A long time ago, what seems like an eternity ago now, I wrote a post about something that a friend of mine once told me that she'd been told by someone else even longer before then.
The basis of the post was a statement made about marriage, something to the effect that the 9th and 17th years of marriage are, for whatever reason, the hard ones.
If you can survive those two years, this person reasoned, then you could survive anything.
At the time, I laughed it off as a random anecdote, some numbers given false attribution, false significance that might hold water for an occasional couple, but that probably had no basis in reality beyond that.
Oh, how little I knew. I just didn't know that at the time, of course.
As it turns out, I didn't know much about anything back then.
The 9th year in our marriage ended up being one holding a few potentially catastrophic events. It was almost the undoing. It could easily have been.
We did survive it, sure...but the aftermath of the things that happened that year would go on to affect us for many, many years to come.
There were times I didn't think we'd make it this far. Times I was sure we wouldn't.
This year, we'll celebrate our 17th anniversary. In just a few days time, actually, that date on the calendar will roll around again, and the people we are now in this year bear almost no resemblance to the ones who I thought I was writing about at year 9, or the ones that were married 17 years ago.
I mean, sure we sort of look like those people. There's a degree of physical familiarity, but make no mistake about it. We're just different now, individually and together.
I want to say that we're better now, that we're more evolved. I don't know if we're better. I think we are. We're certainly more real. We're survivors of this thing called marriage with the scars to prove all that we've been through. We've learned more about each other and ourselves in the way that only experience can teach.
I'm not flippant anymore about the things people who've endured marriage longer than we have say about it. I don't dismiss the nuggets of wisdom passed down by well meaning people. I don't. I have a healthy respect for so much these days.
I lived long enough to learn that I didn't have any idea what I thought I knew.
It's humbling. Grounding.
In this process, though, there is growth. Tremendous growth. The kind that takes every ounce of effort you can give and hurts every single step of the way.
He's not the man I married anymore and I'm not the woman he married.
There's no way we could be after all that we've been through, but we wouldn't want to be the people we once were anymore anyhow.
Those people were deeply flawed. They no longer exist because they weren't meant for this world.
It took us a long time to get here. Those years between 9 and 17 weren't pretty ones. They were ugly and hate filled and worse, but without having gone through all that we did, we wouldn't be these people now.
And these people? The ones here today?
They are pretty damn amazing.
They're even better together.
Happy Anniversary, Mr. Hive.
I think we finally figured this marriage thing out.
I love you.
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