I vaguely remember being a starry-eyed twenty-something with nothing but love and joy in my heart. Of course that was well before children and other life stress came along and I realized some of those stars were just fiery balls from Hell. I am being overly dramatic but there are times when I sit and wonder how I’m going to dodge and survive the figurative flying flames.

I would have never survived anything I have been through in past few years if I didn’t have a partner who was there to support me through it all. On the brink of our 11th wedding anniversary this week I have been reflecting on our journey thus far, and though it hasn’t been easy or beautiful every step of the way, I have come to realize that our partnership has only gained strength and stability forged by flames and sharp objects thrown our way.

We met in the least traditional of methods-on eHarmony.com. I was busy with grad school and finding it difficult to meet other single people who found shy oddball women interesting. My soon to be husband had grown tired of the endless dating game and decided to try a new method. He was one of the first two people I was matched with, and the only person I ever met from the site. I joke that I wasted a 3 month membership fee.

It didn’t take long before we knew. 6 months after we met he was down on one knee with a beautiful diamond ring, I was teary-eyed saying “yes” in the kitchen of what would become our first home together. One year later to the day, we were married. A mix of Christian and Sri Lankan traditions, we tailored the ceremony and reception to exactly what we wanted, and everything ended early which was fine by us.

The wedding and the promises are the easy part. That’s the fun stuff. Then life happens. We were faced with so many trials so shortly after: fertility issues, my long battle with post-partum depression, our son’s minor health issues, my mother in law’s declining health and ultimate passing, my parent’s health issues, uprooting our family and moving across country to care for them. We took our respective turns getting near our breaking points, then actually breaking, but ultimately picking each other up. Each time the strength of our relationship was tested, and each time we were stronger afterward.

I think back on what gives us strength. Are we perfect? Of course not, but neither of us have ever questioned our bond, and I think that is the most important piece of it all. I was talking to a former co-worker and she asked me specifically what she thought our strengths were, and so I decided to list them out.

  • Communication-It is nothing small to say that communication has always been the number one thing that keeps us strong as a couple. There was a time where I felt like some of my needs weren’t being met, and it wasn’t an easy conversation but I was becoming very depressed, and so I talked them out with him. And it wasn’t easy for a few days, but then once we talked it out again, everything improved because we understood each other on a different level. If he seems low, I ask him to tell me about it. Even if it’s just mundane conversation about work or what we read about in the news, we are always talking to each other.
  • Finances-I have always heard that finances can be a huge part of why couples argue, and I think again communication is part of this, but we have always had similar spending habits and always discuss giant purchases. We share our accounts which works for some but not everyone. We both receive equal amount of amazon boxes each week so we have an understanding not to judge each other!
  • Friendship-He is my best friend, sounds cliché but we genuinely like to hang out together, so I think it’s important to find things that both people like to do. For us its pretty simple, we watch the same TV show at night before bed, movies at home on the weekends, occasional date nights, sometimes we play games or video games. Nothing extraordinary especially as we have kids but we have fun.
  • Sharing the load-When I met him he was already doing his laundry and cleaning the house, I didn’t see any reason for me to take over. If I cook, he does dishes. I clean the bathrooms, he vacuums. We both live here, we are both busy, and this way neither of us holds a grudge over the other for doing more. Some day our kids will start doing a lot of this stuff (I am crossing my fingers it doesn’t come with too much attitude) and then it will be sweet bliss.
  • Fighting it out-We don’t hold grudges, well not big ones anyway. It took me a very long time to be able to talk out my problems. The way I was raised and in my past relationships I was so used to having a blow out disagreement, running away, and then ignoring the problem until the cycle began again. But not with my husband, he wanted to hash things out, and it took me a while to be able to sit down and be able to do this. But now, if something is bothering one of us, we have it out as soon as appropriate, and usually are laughing at each other by the end.
    • The last time I was upset with him he looked at me when he could feel my anger and said, “do you think we can skip the fight and go to the part where we apologize to each other and make up?” It was cute, but in the moment I told him no, I needed to have this out of my system, so I held on for a few minutes, and then caved. He’s starting to know me a little too well…

Does he make me crazy when he leaves the toilet seat up and squeeze the toothpaste from the middle? Of course, but that balances him out, otherwise I would just be obnoxiously in love. I’m sure I annoy him at times too but I can’t possibly thing of how (you can’t see the halo over my head but I think it’s still there somewhere). I am more in love with him as time has gone on though, sappy as it sounds, he is the perfect one for me, and I’m excited to see where else life takes us.