One of my favorite quotations (I don’t remember where I first read or heard it) is a riddle about marriage: “What are the two toughest years of marriage?”

The answer: “The first year, and whatever year you’re in now.”

Early on, Joanna and I probably had every reason to fail. She had three kids. I was an alcoholic newspaper reporter, working long hours for low pay. She was a big-city girl from California, I grew up in a somewhat isolated small Idaho logging town, and we were living in the desert. I wasn’t great at expressing my emotions; she was … well, great at expressing her emotions. We had an age difference that many folks considered significant, and each of us was used to having our own way.

We had some things to work through, both as individuals and as a couple. We’ve told people that the main reason our marriage survived that first year is that we were never both ready to give up at the same time. Hence this Jason Mraz song. It’s not as catchy as his wonderful hit, “I’m Yours,” but I like how this one reminds me of that first amazing, often-terrifying year.

And by the way, about the riddle: I’ve repeated it often to young people, while adding, “Those should also be the two best years.” I also apply the sentiment to all sorts of other situations — jobs, friendships, my golf game, etc. And thankfully, “whatever year we’re in now” hasn’t been particularly difficult for Joanna and me for quite a while.

“I Won’t Give Up” lyrics here, with video below: