A few months ago I had to send my wedding ring to the jeweler for some repairs. Paul offered to buy me a new one. I shook my head and with a smile basically said thanks but no thanks. He shook his head and said, “Any other woman would jump at the chance for a new diamond.”

But see, this ring is my ring. There is no other ring like it; it was made by a jeweler friend of ours and there is only one. Paul sold a cow to buy it for me. For 25 years it has been a constant part of me, save for the times I was pregnant and swollen and had to put it in my jewelry box until babies were born and my fingers stopped resembling Vienna sausages. The thought of setting it aside permanently and swapping it out for something new just doesn’t appeal to me.

On New Year’s Day we celebrated 25 years of being married. Sitting in a car dealership the other day, the poor kid doing our financing nearly had an aneurysm when Paul said this weekend was our 25th anniversary. He stopped shuffling his paperwork, his mouth dropped open, and he said, “25 years?? What’s the trick? How did you do it??” Paul and I just looked at each other and busted out laughing. It’s become comical when people ask now and our answer is always the same: stubbornness.

Several friends have suggested we have a vow renewal ceremony to celebrate this year, but we have politely declined all offers and suggestions. See, when we stood on the stage at Northwest Baptist Church all those years ago we took those vows seriously. I was 19, he was 29. We were both young and naïve (read: stupid) but we made those vows with all that was in our hearts and souls on that icy January night. Those vows were spoken aloud to the pastor, our friends and family, each other, but mostly and loudest to God. When it was hard and tough and awful and we just wanted to give it all up and move on, we didn’t. Got close a few times, but we stood resolute that we stick and stay. Has it been easy? No. Has it been fun? Mostly, but not always. Have there been bad times? Far too many to count. But I can say the same for the good and the wonderful.

When I got my ring back from the jeweler I marveled at how shiny it was. It had long since lost some luster and shine. Baking, cleaning, bathing dogs and babies, scrubbing barf and poop out of various pieces of clothing, carpet, and other surfaces, and life in general had worn off the new over time. When I got in the car I took a picture of my hand sporting that shiny ring then looked at it and thought, “Oh how old my hands look!” I used to admire my Nana’s hands and thought her wrinkled, soft hands were so beautiful. I hope someday my granddaughters see strength and beauty in my wrinkled, dry, and papercut hands that could really use some lotion. Last night I got out the picture of our hands taken on our wedding day. His hands were thin and callused, mine were soft and smooth, the nails painted. His are still callused today, but we both have some age spots, wrinkles, and time has definitely begun to show its wear. I haven’t worn polish in ages.

The vows still stand today. There is no need to renew them because they haven’t expired. The cold he has had the last couple of weeks has proven that I can stand through the sickness part and we’ve definitely seen more poorer than richer over the years. We’re heavier, grayer, achier, and more tired than we were then, but we also have more love than we did then, although it’s different now. Less showy and quieter, but it runs so deep. Happy 25th Anniversary, my darling Pauly. I’ve spent half of my life with you and can’t wait to spend the rest of it figuring things out and laughing our way through it. I love you more than I could ever, ever say. Little red beard hairs on the sink and all.

Born a semi-diva and married to a redneck, through the magic of osmosis or just because of a serious lack of sophistication over the years, Kristin Hoover has found a balance of the two that makes her what she is today.