What marriage looks like 11 years on

My wedding anniversary is always slightly confusing for me because we had three different weddings. Our marriage was registered on the 18th of January (‘The Regiversary’ as the Irishman terms it), we had a small wedding for 38 people in Bali on the 26th April (The Baliversary) and a big wedding for 350 people at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore on the 30th April (The Rafflesiversary).

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When we were young and had more time and money than sense, we used to celebrate all three dates. Mark would get me earrings for the first one, a necklace for the second one and maybe a ring for the third one. Now that we’re ancient, have three kids and live in the countryside, I buy myself a new set of knickers on the Bali anniversary and call it a day. Well to be fair, for our 11th anniversary I did something incredibly romantic. I went down to Bunnings and bought a tube of Shellys Instadry Bathroom Filler and grouted up 3 small holes in our bathtub that Finn had made from playing with rocks (don’t ask) ALL BY MYSELF as a surprise for Mark. My eternally hopeful salesperson George from Bulgari who sends me a anniversary card on razor sharp cream card stock every year would be so appalled.

But this is what romance at 11 years looks like.

Exhibit A – Waking up to a lovely homemade Irish breakfast complete with heart shaped toast and tiny wee rosebud from the garden. By the way, you see the silver mirror behind Mark’s head? there’s a large strip of silver duct tape attaching the mirror plate to its frame after it jiggled loose during the 19th house move we’ve made. According to the Irishman, the duct tape was a temporary solution until he could get the mirror fixed. It’s been there for three years now. Guess what I’m doing for our 12th wedding anniversary??

Exhibit B: Look at this little Sean dancing all night at our wedding. He was 5 years old then. Younger than Dylan is now. And he’s turning 17 this year. WHAAA??

The most overused words in the English language. Time flies. But yet it does. This was our Bali wedding, and that little baby in the sailor hat is now a beautiful athletic young lady whom I see on Facebook setting swim records and going to the prom. And my other bridesmaid Adele has just become a mother to a cute little boy. Everyone there is there same same but different.

I like this photo of me and my bridesmaid Kylie, waiting for the ceremony to start. There’s that sense of innocence and a slight hesitancy about it all. The big adventure I was about to embark on. Kylie still looks EXACTLY the same after 3 kids. It’s infuriating.

Exhibit C – Rose petals. Dylan is obsessed with this photo of people throwing rose petals at us during our wedding. Last year, we celebrated our anniversary at Dylan’s best friend’s house in Singapore, and she and her friend collected frangipani flowers all day to pelt us with during the party.

Yesterday evening, Dylan came up to us and announced that she had spent all morning collecting rose petals from the garden to throw on us for our 11th anniversary. She seems to think this is an integral part of matrimonial celebrations. So we were made to sit on the sofa and treated to a shower of slightly squashed flowers while our friend Anne snapped this photo.

Exhibit D: Marriage for me has been the biggest learning experience and privilege of my life, but it can also be brutal, confronting and exhausting. Every couple has a different marriage dynamic. Mark and I aren’t conventional in the sense that while many couples have opposite personalities, we’re very similar. We are both headstrong and opinionated and where it all came together was, after many years, learning what to fight for. The most important fight is the one for your family and for your marriage.

I just love this note that Dylan wrote. Mark found it in the bathroom floor and she couldn’t remember why she wrote it but Mark tucked it into a photo frame and it makes us smile whenever we walk past the console table in the dining room and read it. It could be our family motto. We are strong! We will never give up! We will fite!

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