Twenty two years ago, I met a boy. He made me laugh the first time we met. He was very different from the guys I had dated, because he was so open and didn’t hide from his feelings. In fact, from the very first day we met, I have never wondered where I stood with him, what he was thinking, or how he felt about things. It was honest, refreshing, and a little bit scary. He asked me out and when I turned him down three times in a row (because I already had plans, I promise!), he kept asking. And after a few dates, when I went on a trip with a friend, he met me at the gate when we came home…hugging me so hard I almost lost my breath! I had just come out of a long term relationship and was pretty scarred, so I was a little hesitant at first. But something about him just felt right. His persistence and enthusiasm would have turned me off if it had been anyone else, but I just had a feeling that I’d better not let him get away. Now, 22 years later, we just celebrated our 20th anniversary, and I love him more today than I did the day I married him.
It’s kind of scary when you think how little we knew each other when we got married, two years after we met. We were in our late twenties, and had plenty of experience with other people, so we knew what we DIDN’T want and kind of knew what we DID want. We had the same values and goals, wanted to be with each other all the time, couldn’t imagine spending our lives apart, and what I’ve discovered is key…we laughed together. He has kind of a biting humor, and I “got” him. He was happy when he made me laugh. And now, 22 years later, we still laugh…a lot. I can’t imagine a better father for our daughter, and I can’t imagine a life without him. We have grown up together…and now we know each other better than we know ourselves.
I was in love…I felt safe and secure with him. I’d fallen in love before, several times, actually, but had never felt as safe in his arms as I did with him. The last twenty years have been cram packed full of a lot of things…Buying homes, renovating homes, having a baby, school applications, homework, work, carpools, play dates, vacations…and I’m not gonna lie…some difficult moments. My tendency when things get difficult is to withdraw and sulk…I don’t like to talk about my feelings. J’s tendency is to fight it out to the nth degree…and even when we resolve things, he likes to talk about it. A lot. We’ve learned over the years that somewhere in the middle is the key. I’ve had to work on looking inside myself to try to figure out the “why” and “what”, and then push myself to talk about it, and he’s had to learn not to beat everything into the ground. But we rarely (I really can’t truthfully say never) go to bed angry…maybe sleep deprived after loooooong discussions…but not angry. Everything always looks better in the morning. We have also worked hard at making each other feel special, not an easy thing when you’re mad at them. But we’ve learned that biting your tongue and saying or doing something nice gets you a whole lot farther than biting at each other, or sulking away in a corner.
My pastor, Pete Wilson, spoke last week in church about “How to Stay in Love”…and he blogged a portion of that sermon this week. Once again, he nailed a subject that was on my mind, since J and I just returned from a 20th anniversary trip to the Bahamas. I’d been thinking about our life together and why I think it’s so strong. He said that while we’re all naturally equipped to FALL in love, we’re ill-equipped to STAY in love. And here’s the quote that I love…
“You don’t feel your way into an action. You act your way into a feeling. Act loving, be loving, then you’ll feel love.”
How true is that? Love is not a noun, it’s a verb. You shouldn’t think you have to be LOVED to be LOVING, it’s the other way around. Be loving, you’ll feel loved. Simple. Somehow J and I figured it out. Some people never do. I pray that we both continue to work as hard on making each other feel loved as we do now. My daughter will be entering college in less than two years, so I’m sure there will be many boys in her life. I’m so glad she heard Pete’s sermon… Hopefully she’ll remember that falling in love is the easy part, realize that you have to work to stay in love, and she’ll find the happiness and fulfillment with someone that I feel with her father.
I must be in a sharing mode, because here are some photos from the last 20 years with the love of my life, frizzy hair and all!