Happy de facto anniversary, darling

Last updated 10:03 06/06/2011

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Craig Cliff

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The love of my life and I recently celebrated 10 years together. When I say celebrated, I mean we clinked our Monday-night glasses of red and moved on with the evening.

At the time I felt strangely compelled to shake her hand, but thought better of it.

Perhaps if we weren't getting married in November it might have been a bigger occasion.

It does seem a shame to start counting again from zero after the nuptials; to think that in 2021 it'll be only our tin anniversary when I reckon we'd have earned some china (20 years) by then.

Slightly off-topic: I'm not sure how many couples make it to their 80th (oak) or 90th (stone) wedding anniversaries, but it'd be difficult not to consider caskets or tombstones for such occasions.

And what about the de facto couples out there who will, by choice, never marry? Don't they deserve an archaic, arbitrary system to categorise their anniversaries and guide their gift-buying?

Of course they do.

The progression would be different to traditional wedding-anniversary gifts paper, cotton, leather, linen, wood, etc), which ramp up as you get older and wealthier. These days, daters who make it to one year probably aren't thinking too hard about the future and are in a position to splash out.

Year one: it's time for an electrical appliance. Nothing says, "I've had a good 12 months and would like you to stick around a bit longer" better than a sandwich press.

After two years: furniture. Nothing says, "I can't believe you bought me an electric toothbrush last year and you can't be trusted" like buying a couch together and calling it an anniversary present.

After a rocky patch, you've made it to three years: pot plants, perhaps? A symbol of the care and attention a relationship needs to prosper, though a more likely scenario is: she buys him a Venus flytrap because he likes that sort of thing and he won't get the joke vis-a-vis the power balance in their relationship; he buys her a Venus flytrap because THEY'RE AWESOME! She is left to care for two Venus flytraps.

Four years: flowers from the neighbour's garden and that box of Cadbury Favourites you got for Christmas but never got around to opening. This is also known as "The Four Year Test". If you make it to four years and one month, it's time to start planning for . . .

Five years: an overseas trip.

When you start hitting the big numbers - 10, 15, 20 years - it's time to bring friends and family into the mix. The first step is to let other people know when you celebrate your anniversary. Then decide on something you want and start referring to this as your "Landscaping Anniversary" or "New Tyres for the Van Anniversary".

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The good thing about de facto anniversaries is they're not usually pegged to legal documents like wedding certificates, so you can play with the dates a little.

Did I say we'd celebrated 10 years already? I meant it'll be 10 years in June. I think that's the "His and Hers iPads Anniversary". . .

Craig Cliff is a writer and true romantic. He writes a fortnightly column.

- The Dominion Post

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