In a few days, I will have been married for 16 years! While 16 years isn’t considered a significant milestone like 10, 20 or 30 years, here’s why it’s particularly meaningful to me — I have spent 40% of my life being committed to the same person. What kind of gift can capture such an occasion?
Let me just first say that my husband and I are not really big on gift giving. It is not our preferred “love language“.
What we had done previously on many past anniversaries is to revisit where we, as a couple, first began. We would basically go to our favourite hangouts, revisit the Starbucks (where we met) and reminisce about how it all started. Well, those places were all in the States, so for the last 8 years in Singapore, our celebrations have just involved going out to a nice place for dinner.
I admit, it’s a little boring. But since I felt this year was a little more special than others, I wanted to actually do a gift exchange. We both thought long and hard about what we wanted to give each other and this is what we came up with.
A Gift for You, for Me, and for Us
If you were doing the math in your head earlier, you would have concluded that I am now considered “middle-aged”. People say that “your 20s are for learning and your 30s are for earning.” But where does family fit into this? And what happens after 30?
Although everyone’s path in life is different, statistically speaking, your 40s (and 50s) tend to be some of the most challenging years. First off, your parents’ health and capabilities will start to worsen. Then, if you have children, their needs will simultaneously increase.
Injures, illnesses and other health crises also seem to be common in this dreaded middle-age period.
So with this in mind, my husband and I gave ourselves (and each other) the gift of a comprehensive health screening. The particular screening we chose included the blood tests, a treadmill test (stress ECG), and ultrasound studies.
Ok, so it’s not the most romantic gift. Or is it?
Two years ago in a CareShield Life forum, I met a 42-year old man who proudly declared that he opted out of the insurance because “I am young, healthy, and I didn’t need the insurance”, he said. Several others nodded in agreement with him. That’s when I said, “The insurance is not for you. It’s for your family; it’s for your kids.” He looked stunned.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that it’s not really for the insured. It’s for those who have to take care of the insured or those who are left behind.
So in that sense, my comprehensive health screening is not really just for me. It’s also for my husband. My upkeep and commitment to my health is also, in part, for him (as his is for me). If we had children, it would also be for them.
The Lesson I’ve Learned from 16 Years
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from the last 16 years can be summed up into two words — unified and holistic.
When you’re a couple, it’s easy to compartmentalise things. For example, his career versus my career, his hobbies versus my hobbies, his money versus my money. And now there’s this new phenomenon of his unimoon and my unimoon. (What is a “unimoon”? Hint: it has nothing to do with astronomy. Answer: it is a solo-honeymoon.)
But I feel a much better approach is to view things holistically. For example, to see your career as really being your family’s career (not just yours), your money being your family’s money, your health being your family’s health, etc.
In this way, you view your family as one unified team.
It’s this type of “unified” and “holistic” thinking that I believe has always served as a good compass for making tough decisions and dealing with problems or disputes, all while staying committed to each other and to the relationship. And perhaps this is really the best gift of all.