From the beginning, and despite any differences, John Gibson and Raúl Rodriguez moved in harmony.
Mr. Gibson, 57, is a singer and actor who grew up in Kentucky and was living in an old Victorian with a leaky roof in Jersey City. Mr. Rodriguez, 61 and a native of Argentina, ran a graphic-design business and owned a studio on a quiet street in Manhattan’s West Village.
The two belonged to the same gym, but never met there. They both attended an intimate a cappella concert at N.Y.U. They didn’t meet there, either.
In 2005, on a dating website, they met.
But Mr. Gibson was already planning to move. He told Mr. Rodriguez that he was relocating to San Diego. Mr. Rodriguez knew he was in love with Mr. Gibson, but years earlier, he had fallen in love with New York. He had a choice to make: Mr. Gibson or New York?
They both moved to San Diego in 2006, and married two years later.
Their announcement appeared in The New York Times on Oct. 31, 2008. (At the time, Mr. Gibson had used his middle name, Whitley, as a surname.) Four days later, a clerk at City Hall in San Diego formally stamped their marriage license, only a few hours before voters in California passed Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. (In 2010, the proposition was overturned in the federal courts.)
Yet New York was always on their minds. They flew back often. Mr. Rodriguez had kept his apartment, and his business partner lived in Westchester County. The city’s cultural charm called to them.
In 2012, Mr. Rodriguez’s longtime business partner in New York died. As the years went by, and feeling unable to manage a bicoastal business alone, he again had a choice to make: San Diego or New York?
“We loved San Diego,” Mr. Gibson said. “But our guts told us New York was home.”
In 2016, they loaded up a truck and moved back to Mr. Rodriguez’s West Village apartment, to a new city growing within the old. One recent Sunday, they scanned downtown from the furnished roof deck of their building, recalling the meatpacking district when it was still hosing animal blood and guts from the sidewalk and prostitutes walked the streets in large numbers.
“I want to walk up to people eating a salad in the neighborhood now and say, ‘Do you know what used to happen here?’” Mr. Gibson said.
Their life is new in another way: They had never lived together in the West Village apartment. Harmony, particularly in close quarters, takes practice.
Mr. Gibson fails to put objects in the space reserved for them. Mr. Rodriguez took the foible as a challenge.
“I treat it as a brain exercise,” he said. “I say to myself, ‘What might John have been thinking when he put away the can opener?’”
Mr. Rodriguez “is elastic about punctuality,” Mr. Gibson said. “It’s O.K. Why be rigid?”
These are tiny differences. “John and I, we can live together with respect for one another,” Mr. Rodriguez said.
Their marriage has become a working contraption, parts moving side by side to produce one happy result. Mr. Gibson takes Mr. Rodriguez to Broadway shows; Mr. Rodriguez takes Mr. Gibson to the opera. They visit the big and small museums of New York City, Mr. Rodriguez and his art-history education narrating the tours. Mr. Gibson bakes, particularly tins upon tins of decorated sugar cookies at Christmastime. They both cook. They inhabit a nearby Italian restaurant, Rossapomodoro; and they have been cramming dozens of friends into the apartment for classic movie nights complete with printed programs, including, recently, “How to Marry a Millionaire.”
When Mr. Rodriguez first moved into the apartment 15 years ago, he noticed a small tree — simarouba glauca, a.k.a. paradise tree — growing in the back of the building. Known to thrive in South America, it was braving New York’s increasingly frigid winters.
On a recent Sunday morning, Mr. Rodriguez looked out at the now-towering tree. If he opened the window he could touch the tops of its branches, eight floors aboveground. He talked about the seeds the tree drops — “They make a mess,” he says — and he talked about its reputation as a weed.
But Mr. Rodriguez sees the best in just about everything, and here he was, able to watch the Hudson River flow outside his windows through the fernlike leaves of a tree whose South American ancestors shared space with his own.
Married, settled, mostly satisfied except for a few small stumbles — the apartment is cozy or crowded, depending on the perspective — Mr. Rodriguez smiled contentedly at his husband. Mr. Gibson has reordered the studio to feel more like a two-room apartment. He bought a divider at Ikea and spent hours putting it together to create a separate dining and living space.
He has organized their voluminous collection of records, DVDs, CDs, and piano music into bookshelves near the entryway. He has displayed Mr. Rodriguez’s saints and heroes statue collection on a shelf the length of the big window at the back of the apartment He has stored for future use his pile of state plates — Alabama to Wyoming with a few states missing — along with furniture, art, posters, Mr. Rodriguez’s photographs and scores of symphonies, Mr. Gibson’s cookbooks and DVDs, and roomfuls of other objects.
They miss their stuff, but they are happy. The passing of the years together has only heightened their appreciation for their union. Both bearded, bespectacled, and with close-cropped hair, they wear their wedding rings every day. “It really is a privilege to be married,” Mr. Gibson said.
This month, family and friends will celebrate their first decade together, in the city where they met, thousands of miles from where they first said “I do.”
They say location is only so important. Treating one another kindly, that’s their secret. And for both of them, the simple fact they had a wedding — the ceremony, the traditions, the vows — made their marriage stronger.
“The declaration of our love for one another in front of our loved ones was very empowering,” Mr. Gibson said, grinning.
“Marriage,” he said. “ You stick it out.”