Today Mrs. Fish and I celebrate 18 years. I honestly couldn't imagine doing this crazy trip with anyone else. We are raising an amazing daughter, continuing to grow and learn together, and we are still friends after all these years. I am a blessed man, to be certain.
What I've learned:
1) Be friends - We've had ups and they're AWESOME. When things get tough, we needed something to fall back on. I fall back on the fact that we were friends first, and that friendship was based on mutual respect.
2) Be lovers - Kids, jobs, family, bills, all have a way of draining the love from a marriage. If we don't fill that bucket, things go south. It doesn't have to be big extravagant over-the-top declarations or acts of love, but if we don't set aside that time, look out. And, when we do, even when we think we're too tired, too distracted, too ___________, our marriage gets better.
3) Talk about money - even when we didn't have any, we still talked about it. I think there is very little that will rip a marriage apart as quickly as being on different pages about money. I'm still learning how to do it, but some of the best conversations and best moments of closeness I have had with Mrs. Fish have been over conversations around money.
4) Grow. I have grown with my wife and without her. I want to keep on learning new things, and I think that has made me a better husband. I am learning about my health, writing and art. She learns about music (something I know hopelessly little about), books (she reads a TON of books), and fashion.
5) Know your purpose. I have a strong faith and it's been deepened over the years. It hasn't always been easy, and God has called me to some challenging places. Mrs. Fish wasn't always as faith-focused as I, but she has supported me through that walk, even when she didn't understand or necessarily agree with it. God continues to work on us, and also through us, because I have trusted that He has a purpose for me. Mrs. Fish's faith has deepened and expanded because I have stayed true to that focus over the years, and God is rewarding it with new challenges and opportunities. That grounding, that sense of purpose, has been my rudder through marriage, raising a now 13 year-old daughter in today's society, cancer, conflict, friendships and the challenges we have faced together.
I'm not saying we have it figured out, just my observations of what has worked for us over the past 18 years.