Earl and I are celebrating the 7th anniversary of our legal marriage. Of course, we’ve been together over 22 years, but the government didn’t recognize our marriage until 2011. In fact, 22 years ago today I got down on one knee on top of a mountain in the Adirondacks and proposed to Earl. He said yes. Our first wedding was in December 1996. The government didn’t come on board until seven years ago today. We were legally married at a casino. We figured getting married is a gamble.

I’ve heard of heterosexual couples going to church to learn how to be married. It’s my understanding that when a couple wants to get married in a particular church, they might have to go to that church to learn how to live in wedded bliss. I don’t know what goes on in these classes, as I’ve never really felt the need to watch instructional videos on how these things work, but the concept of needing to learn how to be married strikes me as kind of odd.

One of the beautiful things that I’ve experienced for the past 22 years is that Earl and I just naturally knew how to be a couple. Our union is unique. We do marriage our way. I don’t know that we would know this much happiness if we were instructed on how to be a couple or striving to follow some sort of cookbook that someone else wrote. Who really decides what a happy marriage looks like? It’s no one’s business other than our own as to how our marriage works, just like it’s none of my business as to how my parents’ or my grandparents’ marriages worked.

Earl and I have a couple of ground rules. We are always honest with one another, our commitment is fully invested until death do us part, and outside of death, exiting the relationship is not an option. And even at death, I’m sure the dead one will haunt the live one. It’s just the way we roll.

I’ve seen so many marriages end because of jealousy. Jealousy of looking at other people, or one more successful in their career, or another jealous of hobbies and passions that may not be shared. No one can make you jealous. Jealousy is an emotion that comes from within and 99% of the time it is fueled by insecurity. Know who you are, know why you’re in love, and be honest; that’s our secret. I’d never presume to tell you how to conduct your marriage, because as I mentioned before, it’s none of my business, but if people set aside their jealousy, I’m sure there’d be more successful marriages in the world.