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I was asked tonight, “How have you two grown so much since you were first together, and how has it changed your lives good and bad?”

Scanned neg Image shown at Holden Luntz Gallery, Fla. Spring 2008Gwen and I over the last few days have said to each other that we are happier now than we have ever been. We are comfortable and if, God forbid, we died tomorrow we would be at peace with it. Why and how did we get here?

If you were to ask either of us, I can bet our answer would be the same, “It was not easy but it is worth it all”!

When we first got married, it was the marriage of two individuals and as time has gone on, we have become one. We like the same things, finish each other’s sentences. We have grown together when we had so many events that we could have taken he easy road and grown apart. We chose not to go down that road. Sometimes it was she that stood her ground and sometimes it was I. In the end, it took both of us.

So how have we grown so much? Well we grew together. We made our mistakes, we argued and yelled and we fought but in the end, we always came back to each other. Why? Because we chose to.

We live in a disposable culture. Things generally are not built to last … sometimes we do not even want things to last. Otherwise, we might miss the latest, greatest version. It is easy to transfer this same mentality to our relationships.

However, enduring, loving relationships are one of the best investments we can make. Good relationships do not lose value—they only become richer the longer they last and that is Gwen and I. It is now that we realize that we do get better as our years go by.

As to anything bad, I can say that there is or was anything bad. Yes, we have both done “bad” things, whatever they were but we have to have the bad in our relationships and in life to make good I believe, as does Gwen.

I guess over all we have both had to learn that we cannot control anything in life and that includes each other. Gwen is who she is, I am who I am, and we together over the years have come to complement each other as one. We made peace with that fact.

We are naturally inclined to give our partners the kind of love that comes naturally to us. Perhaps you are a huger and touchy and feely, so you smother your partner with constant physical affection. Nevertheless, your partner may feel more loved by another expression of love—say talking or spending time together or by just not saying anything at all. We have learned to accept and express what we each need and as we grow together this will continue to change as well.

So what lesson can I impart? Well know that we all have baggage and understand that we are all different but what we must always have is faith and a desire that is unequaled. Each of us long for long lasting love but I see so many that have lost confidence in themselves, their partners or even in both. They give up.

Yes, marriage is a leap of faith but is it not really worth all of the work that it entails? It is so worth it!!!

Our relationships do not always end up where we expected but they do not have to end. Begin your relationship with a clear destination in mind and work together with the one that you love toward the vision of the little old couple on a park bench. Then buy yourself a bench, carve your names on it, and enjoy reflecting on lives well lived … together.

I came up with the bench idea while writing this and I think that this weekend I will be doing some name carving.