You can say, "Treat each other kindly and all will be well," but there are people who seem to need to be treated badly, and they aren't attracted to partners who treat them well. Some have a neurotic need to rescue, and others need rescuing, and together they can be happy, as long as neither of them grows out of their particular neurosis.
Thankfully whatever growing we had to do we did together, or at least in close enough rhythm that we never lost our bond. At 44 years we are still bonded in a way I never dreamed was possible. I think we are totally comfortable together. We don't have to maintain a facade, say what we don't feel, or worry about saying what we do feel.
Our relationship is solid, cast in stone. And while a stone can be a millstone, which hangs around your neck and impedes your every breath, it can also be carved into a thing of solid grace. And while we rarely buy anniversary gifts, or even exchange cards, this year we decided to buy something to commemorate our years together.
Hence the new stone Nitobe Kasuga-style "Marriage" lantern in the garden. The Marriage lantern symbolizes the enduring quality of a good marriage. The round top is called a houshu and represents a sacred gem. It is believed to have the power to expel evil, cleanse corruption, and fulfill wishes. The Kasa (umbrella) acts as an umbrella over the fire box. Also carved into the stone are the zodiacal signs of rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The rat is aligned to the north, taking precedence as the first sign: as such it indicates the month of December and the first (midnight) double-hour of the day. As one goes around the base of the Nitobe lantern, the passage of time is marked.
So far we are lucky just to gotten our lantern into the garden, as it is VERY heavy. It took both of us to carry it the ten feet from the truck to the garden, and we were very glad it wasn't any further! But it is now there, though still in need of a bit of alignment. Tonight we will light a tea light in the firebox and look forward to year 45.