While waiting for my ride home after a late lunch, a guy sitting just outside the pub where I ate with my colleagues caught my attention by asking with a sheepish smile, "Excuse me, can you please tell me if the wedding ring is usually on the left or the right hand?"
I automatically lifted my left hand, with an emphasis on my ring finger where both my engagement and wedding rings were, and replied with a smile in return, "Left."
"Ah, thanks for letting me know," he said, still smiling.
I nodded and looked away. And I tried hard not to blush nor to listen to the conversation that he continued to have with a couple of friends he was sitting with. Though I think I sort of got the gist that they had a brief conversation about my response.
As a car passed by with a quick couple of hoots, indicating that my ride has arrived, the same guy who asked about wedding rings enquired again with a playful grin, "So, is that him?"
I nodded yes and quietly walked to the car. And, as I did, I added the reply in my head: "Yes, that is him. My husband. Of 12 years today, in fact."
Yes, though I was flattered by the attention of this stranger, I couldn't help but feel pleased that regardless of cute flirtatious guys, I am celebrating my twelfth wedding anniversary with a guy I married twice in two countries (after a very brief courtship and a whirlwind engagement at that!).
Our marriage is not perfect by any means. We have our ups and downs. Some worse and better than others. But, I'd like to think that we make good partners.
And, even though my husband has been married to me this long, he still doesn't claim to fully understand me. And he's probably right about it too. Yet, I KNOW he gets me. He knows he does too. One of the very few people that I can say who truly, really does in many ways.
He gets me, but he doesn't necessarily always like what he gets. And, I don't expect him to. I don't think he expects me to like everything I get too. Our relationship hasn't lasted this long without the little grizzles and the awkward times.
But, it's all good. In the great scheme of things, we know that what we have right now is what works for us. And, we find that when we look at the good parts of what we do have as a couple, we still see ourselves growing together.
And that's the best part: Our shared histories that still enable us to see a shared future, in our shared present. Regardless of the bumps and bruises. Regardless of the slight imperfections of "US".Indeed, regardless of all that, we know that the commitment we made 12 years ago still makes perfect sense to us now.
In fact, one of the most interesting parts of our conversation during our anniversary dinner was a retrospective of some of the best ways we celebrated our past anniversaries. And, just talking about some of the our fond memories as a couple.
Like, the best wedding anniversary dinner we ever had: It was at a manor in Singapore. We believe it must have been our 3rd year anniversary.
The best hotel stay as a couple (our first anniversary celebration stay at the Beaufort in Sentosa, Singapore; also special mention was our resort trips to Bintan, Indonesia).
The most romantic trip: Not including our honeymoon in the UK, our trip to Paris and Belgium (with side trip to England) was the clear winner. Especially nice that we ended up celebrating our wedding anniversary in Paris. And because he hasn't bought me any presents before the day (saying "I'll have yours later," after giving him a present in the morning), he apparently sneaked out of our hotel room while I was getting ready and he ran around the streets of Paris early in the morning to look for something to get me. I ended up with a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses, which was handed to me over breakfast of French bread and cheese.
Most special road trip: Our family road trip in the UK, with a holiday stay with family in South Africa. The first time the kids visited the husband's home country! It so happened to be our very hectic 10th year wedding anniversary celebration too.
Our most favourite theatre experiences: Les Miserable in London (during honeymoon) and Wicked in Adelaide (just a few months ago :-)).
My favourite wedding anniversary presents: Specially delivered flowers (hasn't happened in years, mind you ;-)). And gadgets, of course. No gadgets or flowers this year, though. Haha.
Most adventurous thing we've done together: The only thing that came to mind was this one day trip in to the jungle in Brunei, where we ended up with a fellow traveller fighting off leeches, our travel group running through the river to get away from water serpents, walking on tree top bridges, and a boat ride.
Funniest trip ever: A safari trip in South Africa, with my mom and late dad. It was also around the time of our wedding anniversary. In 2002, perhaps.
A few other special milestones together as a couple: Moving to Australia (2003). Growing our family (2004, and again, 2007). Building our first house (2003). Selling that house (2006). Buying and moving to a new house (2006).
Best thing in our life: our two wonderful kids, hands down.
So yes, the last 12 years had been quite a journey for us --- evolving from virtual strangers to life partners. And yes, we look forward to finding out what the next few years would bring...
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.