Nonetheless, 'ten year anniversary' has a nice ring to it. There's still so much more ahead of us and there's still so much more to learn and things to experience, to live and cry and laugh about, through which we can grow together - especially as our son gets older - but there's a certain feeling of accomplishment with ten years. We don't know it all but there are times when we've been the ones people who come to us for advice. It's like we've earned some street cred in the ways of the married.
It reminds me of what one of my Taekwondo masters and examiners said when I got my fourth dan (degree black belt) in 2001. (I started Taekwondo training in 1985.) He said that he respects everyone who trains and takes the bumps and bruises but it isn't until the person has been doing it for, at least, ten years that he regards him as a 'martial artist.' He went on to remark that many people start martial arts - and, remember, for us masters, martial arts is more than kicking and punching, self-defense and trophies - but after a month, six months, one year, three years later they've stopped training and never come back. Ten years, for this master, was a milestone, not just because of the time, but because in ten years of training the practitioner begins to understand and accept things about himself. In ten years, with regular practise, a student can get to his third dan, a degree before 'master.' And, whether in martial arts or marriage, understanding and acceptance are key ingredients to getting through and being successful.
Life, particularly through marriage, is much the same way. These ten years haven't always been roses and rainbows. There have been struggles mixed in with the smooth sailing, tears, both sad and happy, and yet we've come through them each time with better knowledge of our individual selves and our partnership. Certain words and their meanings take on greater significance with marriage, too. I'm talking about words like patience, compromise, time, me and I; things we, as humans, take for granted when we're single but change drastically when your life is now responsible to and for a wife and, in our case, a son. With approximately 50% of American marriages ending in divorce, it's nice to know that my wife and I aren't a statistic. In fact, the numbers are greater for subsequent marriages. First time marriages have a 41% chance of ending in divorce. Second time marriages is at 60% and third time is 73%. I'm not saying that divorce is always a bad thing. I have friends who've gotten divorced and they're better off for it. Sometimes things just don't work out and it's better to get out of a bad situation rather than staying in it and making things worse. When getting married, though, you like to hope and believe the marriage will work, otherwise, why do it? In my friends' cases, divorce wasn't something they pursued whimsically at the first time of trouble. That's not any good either.
As we get to our ten year and look ahead to the next ten, I want to thank my wife. She's given me the courage to do lots of things I probably wouldn't have done without her - pursue, earnestly, my writing dreams; compete at the US Taekwondo National Championships; try out for a spot on the US Taekwondo Poomsae (Forms) team, become a more active member of our community (I'm pretty reclusive), take a weekly dance class, to name a few. She's also a source and reminder of positive energy. She's a listener and helps me everyday to be the best version of me I can be and, to that end, she's the best partner I can have to be the best father I can be to our son.
So, to end, I'd just like to thank her for everything she's given me over the last ten years and tell her, in front of the whole world (well, my blog following world anyway), that I love her. Happy Anniversary, darling.