Twenty years of marriage. No matter who you are or where you live, that’s a big accomplishment. My husband, David, and I reached that milestone this week. How many people in my generation can celebrate a significant achievement like this?
I was a young bride. We graduated from university and decided to get married and explore the world together. David and I weren’t quite ready to be real adults yet, but we knew that whatever we did, we wanted to do it side by side. So, on a scorching hot day in late June of 1998 (I think it was 45 degrees with humidity) we wed and partied, surrounded by family and friends. There was even a massive thunderstorm, with a power failure, just as the festivities were winding down after midnight.
We moved to the Normandy region of northern France that summer so that David could begin his work as an Engineer (thanks to David’s sister and her husband who had just moved there). We enjoyed a unique, very serene first 6 months of marriage, living in the countryside and experiencing the delights of life in France. Then we moved to Jerusalem for the next six months where David worked in the drinking water industry and I had a chance to get a taste of radio.
Our adventure did not end there, as I was accepted to journalism school in New York, and off we went to live in the heart of Manhattan for eighteen months. David worked for an engineering firm while I pursued my studies. We lived in a studio apartment in Greenwich village which was smaller than the size of our current living room! The bathroom was so small that I still can’t understand how a full-size bathtub fit in there. We had a view of the Empire State Building, if you had the courage to stick your head out the window and angle your body in just the right way. And we loved every minute of it.
In 2001 we returned to Toronto after our multi-country adventure. It was the best way to start a marriage, to give us a healthy base from which to move forward in our life together. I know that not everyone is as fortunate as we were, to launch a marriage this way.
To get to twenty years of marriage you don’t just need a solid start. As anyone knows who has achieved this milestone, or hit thirty, forty, fifty years or more, you work at it every day. We have had some vicious fights for sure, but we have also had some incredible adventures, built great memories and shed tears of joy as we brought three children into the world.
Some people would say that marriage is just an institution and there is no need to formalize a relationship with a ceremony and signatures. For me, marriage is less about the formality of the process and more about sharing your life with a partner. When I have exciting news, the first person I want to share it with is David. If I am in pain or having a rough day, no one comforts me better than my husband.
Moving through life with someone by your side, for me, is something important and wonderful. And to be able to do that for the past twenty years has been a privilege I don’t take lightly. When you dig deep, every marriage, whether it lasts twenty years or more or less, stays together or breaks up for a variety of reasons. From what I have read, it is estimated that approximately 40% of marriages break up in Canada, with the numbers being higher or lower in different regions. It is difficult to calculate if those numbers have actually increased over the years as there are many variables and also more common-law couples.
I have enjoyed the look on people’s faces this week as I told them that David and I were celebrating our twentieth anniversary. I think the shock in their eyes was a mix of quick math, trying to calculate exactly how young I was when I got married, as well as admiration for being able to celebrate something so wonderful.
And celebrate we will. Two kids are heading to overnight camp on Sunday and number three will spend some quality time with her grandparents as we take off for a week of road tripping and castle gazing in Scotland next week. This is a trip we have planned for a long time, and the celebration of twenty years of marriage is the time to do it. Follow me next week, on this blog, and also on Instagram (@AliciaRichler) and Facebook, as we drive on the other side of the road, visit lochs, castles and maybe even a couple of distilleries.