My chemistry ability is practically zero. It was one of my least favorite subjects in my woefully inadequate attempt at engineering school. Actually, most of those courses were my least favorite which explains my fairly quick exit. However, I am capable of learning things on my own which is how I came to learn about steel the other day.

Steel is a combination of iron and carbon, two naturally occurring elements that are relatively abundant on our little blue marble. Iron being the softer of the two makes up roughly 98% of steel, depending on the type of steel, while carbon being the harder element never appears more than 2% of the time. Knowing that steel is a fairly durable material and that iron is a metal while carbon is…well…not so much, you’d think that those would be reversed, but trust me on this one. If you don’t, feel free to look it up. Carbon, apparently, fills in the gaps of iron when they are combined and this creates steel. But, carbon never appears, if my research is correct, more than 2.1% of the time and is often considerably less.

Why do you care? Why did I bother looking up steel in the first place? What’s the point of this blog post on a website that has honestly been practically dormant for the last 2+ years? I’m glad you asked.

Last Friday was anniversary. My 11th anniversary, to be exact. I spent it in bed Aside: NO! Get your mind out of the gutter. with a fever, and a few other less than pleasant ailments. Didn’t matter much anyway. My wife was on her way home from the beach with the kids. Due to work schedules, we haven’t spent an anniversary together in quite some time. However, since anniversary number one, I’ve attempted to get her a gift with a traditional flair. And…since the 11th anniversary is steel, I got her a new toaster oven (stainless steel!) By and large, this is a gift that would get most men the cold shoulder, “the look,” or an evening on the couch. To that end, I also bought some very nice flowers and a card. Still, I knew it was something she would like because a)our toaster oven doesn’t work properly and b)it’s the thought that counts.

So, you had to look up how to make steel to buy an arguably crappy anniversary present? Well…no, but I’m glad I did. Because here’s what I came to write about.

We’re a great couple. We’re very good parents. I don’t say this to toot our own horn, but what the hey…TOOT! The last 11 years (13 if you count the courtship/engagement period) have made us steel. 98% of the time we are iron: strong, but flexible. Capable of being molded, but also great under pressure. A high boiling point which allows us quite some time before we get too hot to handle. But, we’ve also had our carbon moments: the hard times that fill in the gaps of these great moments. However, they’re completely necessary to create the steel partnership that we have. They keep us honest and carbon is not without its benefits either. Under great pressure, it becomes a diamond, one of the clearest, hardest materials on the planet. It may be 2% or less of the relationship, but the carbon times are required to remind us that the iron times are not self-sufficient. The iron is weak without the carbon; the good must come with the bad.

I’ve written many times about how great my wife is, and I tell her regularly how much I love her and admire her and believe in her. But sometimes it’s good to get a physical reminder of how you work as a couple, even if it’s in the form of a toaster oven. And, even though she’s likely to take it back to replace an even less functional coffee pot, I’ll remember that we’re the “couple of steel” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

See you in the funny papers!

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