It's sharing stuff - from "Here, taste this!" at a new restaurant with a new taste sensation on your plate which you want to share with your partner to working quietly side-by-side on some shared project giving of your time and your strengths to make the thing work.
It's the quiet moments spent doing nothing much at all - and you end up whining that you've done nothing constructive but dammit yes you have spending quiet times with another human beings in the kinds of silences that imply a far deeper communication level than mere speech or while finishing one another's sentences or guessing the rest of a thought from the beginning of a simple phrase which might lead anywhere at all but which the two of you know as a signpost to a particular destination.
It's hearing "I love you" first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. It's hearing it - and feeling it - throughout the rest of the day, in the small things you say and do each to and for the other. It's knowing what your other half likes, and indulging them; it's knowing what your other half likes TOO MUCH, and serving as gatekeeper against overindulgence.
It's the discussion about things that need to be done and how they need to be done. It's figuring out how to make things easier for the other person.
It's finding little ways of making that other human being's life just a little more comfortable, more painless, softer... and at the same time it's all about honesty and respect, and telling the other person the truth about things even when it's harder than you'd like. It's being the bits that fill out the lack in your partner, and finding in your partner the bits that make up the bits that you might be light on - a bit of optimism to apply as a balm to crotchety pessimism, a bit of realistic pessimism to tie down to the feet of flyaway optimism and prevent it from floating away completely into the wild blue yonder of pure possibility without a second thought for the baggage left behind here on earth. It's completing the square. It's standing there staring out at the same horizon, and making shared plans to get there.
It's the little annoyances which drive you batty. It's the bigger annoyances that drive you spare. It's the melding of two disparate, separate lives into one semi-coherent whole that functions as an entity in its own right. It isn't always perfectly smooth sailing - but it's the knowledge that a storm is just weather, and that above the blackest clouds there's always sunshine, and so long as you can hunker down and batten the hatches against a hard blow you'll be able to pick up the pieces afterwards when it is all over and put it all back together the way it was and sometimes even better and you can carry on.
It's the deepening of a friendship, and if a marriage doesn't stand on the bedrock of friendship it doesn't have a good foundation. It is just as important to LIKE your partner as it is to love him or her. Passion is fabulous, but passion is a youngster's game when it is played best, and as you walk the roads of life together you realise that the best part of passion is that you can actually find something to talk to each other about once the power of the pash-up is spent and you are left with a meeting of minds and not just a physical attraction. Many marriages that end up on the rocks do so because the two partners fall head-over-heels, rush into matrimony, spend the passion they have been given freely at the start, and then discover, once they get out of bed, that they have nothing in common and nothing to talk about. And if you have nothing to talk about how are you going to spend the hours and days and months and years you have together?
A good marriage is a meeting of mind and body and spirit, a realisation that there is someone out there who makes you feel more like yourself than you can feel when you are alone - some extra dimension which adds to you, which makes you larger than life, which makes you bigger and better and wiser and more open to the things life is going to lay at your feet - somebody who steps up to your side and makes you feel as though they've always got your back. Somebody who makes you relax against another body and close your eyes and believe with an utter and complete faith that you are no longer alone.
Many people feel some or all of this stuff on their wedding day, when it all begins, when it's all new, when the partner at your side is still shiny in their white gown or their tuxedo. But a good marriage is one where you feel all this and more day after day, year after year.
I know, you see. Because ten years ago today I was that shiny new bride. My marriage chalks up a full decade today.
I'm proud of the two of us who make up this partnership. I'm proud of the lives we have made. I'm proud of my marriage. It's a GOOD one.
Happy tenth, rdeck.