Maureen and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We've actually been together 14 years, but last June we made it official.

We were hardly blushing brides, both being on the downhill side of 50 (and then some), but we were as full of joy as any twenty-something couple on our big day. The ceremony was meaningful but not too long, the guests were all people we love, the food was great, the weather was … well, weather. All in all, the occasion was about as close to perfect as you could expect.

After the excitement and exhaustion of the day had passed, there was time to wonder about the meaning of what we had done. And I have continued to ask myself about that as weeks and months have rolled themselves into a year.

It wasn't much of an advantage at tax time – in fact, I think we may have ended up paying more together than we would have filing as single. And while it is certainly convenient that things we own jointly will simply become the property of the survivor when one of us dies, we don't own much together – not even our house. It is good to know that, for medical decisions, we are now each other's next of kin, though we have been advised that we should each have a living will anyway. And I plan to get mine done really soon. Really. Soon.

So, was it just a nice ceremony and a good party? A nod to a convention from which we were formerly excluded? A boost to our local economy? No, we now have legal obligations to one another. But that's not the important thing, either.

The difference is subtle, but it's there. I feel a more profound sense of commitment, a stronger loyalty to Maureen than before, and I think she is more committed to me, too.

The commitment is almost invisible, because it's everywhere: in a deeper tolerance toward each other, in doing each other's laundry, in welcoming each other's friends and family to our home, in sharing the events of our days. It's my emptying the dishwasher before I go to work and her making dinner early because I have to cover a meeting in the evening. It's remembering to say “thank you,” and “I'm sorry.”

It's splitting and stacking wood together for the stove, Maureen plowing the driveway after the nth time it snowed, while I shoveled the steps. It's riding our ATV together along a beautiful stretch of the Kennebec River. It's dinner on the deck, washing the dogs, ice cream at Dorman's, paying the bills.

In short, it is living out the conviction that we are more together than separately, that each of us helps the other be more who she is than she could be alone. Sometimes we drive each other crazy, we press each other's buttons. Once in a while, it is really not pretty. It is hard to forgive someone for seeing you at your worst, much less for pointing it out.

But we are still each other's refuge, the shelter like no other. And we make each other laugh more than we make each other crazy.

I can't imagine the last 14 years without Maureen, and while no one knows what the future holds, I hope I'll be holding her for at least the next 14 years.