30 Years Together

Unlike the movies, making a life with another person is rarely a happily ever after.

There are stormy seasons and safe comforting shores by turn. In our life together, there have been times that my husband Yusuf and I could have given up because those comforting shores were nowhere to be seen.

But, this week marks three decades together as wife and husband.

In making it this far together, I’ve discovered four hard-learned truths in the creative process that is marriage:



Finding Fault: It is easy to find fault with others, but much harder to really look at yourself and acknowledge your imperfections. For a long time I wanted my husband to be more like me. Now, I realize what a mess that would have been. With age, my own flaws have presented themselves more clearly, and that has made me more forgiving of others.

Count Your Blessings: I have always wanted poetry; my husband is not the poetic type. I’ve come to see that all of the years he has worked so hard for his family are the best kind of poetry. It is love manifested– the doing of what needs to be done, day after day, year after year. When I think of that I say a prayer for him, count my blessings, and feel small in comparison.

Patience and Trust: Throughout my life I’ve seen a recurring theme with others and in myself. We want what we want, but we don’t always know what we need. Some of the biggest blessings in my life have been the things that I wanted and prayed for, but did not receive. I’ve learned to be patient and trust – unanswered prayers make room for what I actually need.

Growth and Change: People, like all living things, need room to grow. If you are with someone long enough, you are both going to evolve repeatedly. Sometimes it can be scary because we don’t always grow at the same time or rate, but change is as necessary as air for our survival.

Our development as individuals comes from our relationships with others; it is a never-ending journey. After 30 years, I feel indescribable gratitude to the man who is like a tree, solid and anchored, the opposite of my mercurial self, my perfect complement.

I am grateful for our life together and for the ebbs and flows along the way; it is all part of my life and story, our life and story.

Khadija O’Connell is a designer and teacher based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was born and raised in Alaska where her parents were avid gold prospectors. Khadija opted for the alchemy of beauty – translating everyday goods and surroundings into sumptuous creations of craft and décor. You can see more of her work at : www.khadija-annette.com

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