On October 13, 1996 Earl and I climbed to the top of Rocky Mountain Point in the beautiful Adirondacks. It was a cool, crisp, yet gorgeous day and though the climb was slow, the view at the top was stunning. It was that day, on that mountain, that I got down on my knee and proposed to my then boyfriend.

“Don’t ask it unless you mean it”, was his first response. The second part is history.

On December 26, 1996, overlooking the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, I placed a gold wedding band on Earl’s finger and he reciprocated by doing the same for me. The ceremony was of our own design and with little fanfare. We said the things we wanted to say to symbolize the permanent union that began with that moment.

Since 1996, our relationship has grown exponentially and in ways I never thought possible. We survived owning a business together, purchasing two houses, six cars, countless electronics and doodads and like most couples we have had many, many “ups”. We have laughed, we’ve celebrated, we’ve rejoiced and yes, we’ve had our squabbles and our tears. I can be an ass, he can be a jerk, but more importantly we are each other’s counterpart in our relationship. The one percent of “bad” (for lack of a better word) is nothing compared to the 99 percent of good.

There is one thing that remains constant in our ever-changing life, and that is love. I have gotten in the habit of saying to him in the morning, “it happened again.” He says, “What?” and then I say, “I fell in love with you again this morning.” And then we smile and embrace.

Our love for one another is fueled by never-ending trust. I trust Earl more than any other human being on the planet and this will never change. I am always honest with him and he is always honest with me. There’s no compromise in the wording of that preceding statement; it’s just a fact. Without trust in the foundation of a relationship, the rest of it is going to wobble. No trust, no dice.

It occasionally gives people pause when I mention that I am going away for a weekend without Earl or vice-versa. I might go off for a multi-day road trip where quite frankly, he would be bored to tears as I drove mile after mile of interstate and rural highway exploring towns that are really no different than any other town or looking at construction projects or even hanging out with friends by swinging from the chandeliers in another state. On the other hand, he might go to a bear run or to Vegas or to any other place with my consent where I have little interest in going. Some think this may be a sign of a change in our relationship. It’s not. It’s a symbol. It’s a symbol of the trust we have in one another.

No two relationships are alike. My city grandparents certainly had a different marriage than my country grandparents and my parents certainly didn’t emulate either of those relationships. Earl and I have our relationship. And it is glorious and magnificent and more importantly, unique to us. What we have is what we want, with no secrets or deception but with lots of trust and undying love.

And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.