I knew on our first date that I would marry him.
I liked the hair on his arms and how his khaki pants fit and the way his smiling blue eyes made me feel calm. Sitting across from him on a cool December night was (to coin Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle) “like coming home… only to no home I’d ever known.” And yet, it was as if I had known him forever.
Surely, this sounds melodramatic — mushy — and oh, that’s fine. We too often go about our days with young children and busy calendars and dirty clothes piled high without thinking that this thing here is nothing less than an answered prayer.
He is my greatest reminder of God’s love.
And not just because he snuck out of bed early this morning on our 8th wedding anniversary to pick some wildflowers from our yard, resting them in the lukewarm water of a mason jar to wait for me.
But because of the less obvious things: tenaciously taking the night shift with crying toddlers, listening to my same complaints as though it were the first time I’d muttered them from tired lips, forgiving when I — once again — open a new jar of peanut butter when there was already one open.
I don’t suppose to claim that either of us is perfect — but is that disclaimer really needed? None of us are. But the act of loving is, in itself, perfecting. We don’t love because we are perfect, but we become more perfect by loving.
And isn’t that the goal of marriage? Two imperfect people, who, by God’s grace, hopefully grow better because of each other — for each other? Who, in sacrificing and serving and looking for the best in the other, somehow come to find it in themselves?
A friend recently called me “ceremonial.” Maybe it’s true; I love anniversaries.
They are a time to pause, reflect, and remember the months when all I could think about was the hair on his arms and his smiling eyes. Eight years later, we have much more to think about, but many more opportunities to truly love.
For it’s easy to feel in love in the early days of first dates and love letters. But 1 Corinthians says “love is patient,” and I have far more opportunities to show patience now than I ever have — with four children and a busy family life. It says “love is kind,” but until two people are together day in and out, they don’t have the chance to truly choose kindness when their instinct is to be grumpy or short. It says “love keeps no record of wrongs,” but when we first met, there was no record to keep. It says “love always perseveres,” but only time and trial can prove perseverance.
It seems funny to me that the portrayal of marriage is so often an extreme depending on where one looks — either a totally serendipitous Fairy Tale or a laborious commitment to be endured.
I think there is a place far more practical and poetic. Where nothing short of a miracle brings two souls together to become something better than they could ever be alone. And where happily ever after is found in the hard, beautiful work of true love, every day, for “as long as we both shall live.”