10 years ago today, I pulled into the Olive Garden parking lot and did a flurry of rearview mirror assessments: mascara—check, lip gloss—check, flyaway hairs—check…er…tamed.
Then I did the classic first date half walk/half trot (until you remember you’re not supposed to look too eager and you force yourself to walk again) up the sidewalk and pushed through the door, eyes darting around in anticipation. But my date was already seated because I was late. Like 15 minutes late.
I know. Shame on me.
Of course, if you’ve read our love story (you can catch up with parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, and 5) then you know that, compounding my tardiness was the fact that Shaun had lead me to this location with a riddle. A riddle that I had to unravel or risk showing up at the wrong place, or not at all.
It makes me smile to think that, these days, a simple text would have soothed his shredded is-she-or-isn’t-she-coming nerves. But this was before the days of casual texting, and I only used my dinosaur of a phone for emergencies.
Oh, for simpler times.
When I finally came into view, his face was incandescent. I can still remember the expression in his eyes when he smiled at me. It was one of those everything-else-just-goes-hazy kind of moments. Not that I could fully appreciate it since I was so busy apologizing for being late and the server was busy playfully chiding me for making this handsome young man wait.
And then I saw them. Two long-stemmed red roses crisscrossed over my plate.
I don’t know about y’all, but for me, there is just something ridiculously appealing about a guy who has the confidence to bring a girl he likes long-stemmed crimson roses on their first date. He wanted his intentions known. No confusion. No questions. We’re not here to be friends. We’re here to see just how far we can take this.
16 months before, I’d been engaged to marry a boy I had dated for almost 3 years. And I came out of that relationship a very confused woman/girl (I was only 19 when we broke off our engagement). I had constant questions about how-in-blue-blazes you were supposed to ever know—like know, all the way down to the bottoms of your sneakers—if someone was right for you. After all, the boy I had dated and I were compatible. We shared a ton in common and got along famously. But I knew in my heart (and my sneaker bottoms) that he wasn’t the one God had for me.
But when Shaun came along, I knew. Like knew.
And a huge part of that was that endearing confidence of his. He wasn’t pushy or demanding. He just knew what he wanted. And what he wanted was me. (Insert pulse flutter).
Yesterday, a reader sent me an email asking for advice about marriage, admitting that hers is struggling, and noting that I “oozed admiration and respect” for Shaun. At first, I didn’t know what to do with that word, “ooze.” I wondered if I were being too gooey about my husband here on the blog, but she made it very evident that she thought it was a good thing, so I stopped worrying about semantics and started thinking about the things that make that genuine admiration and respect for the man I’m married flow out of my heart.
And y’all. Let me tell you, the list was long. He’s kind, considerate, helpful, romantic, funny, godly, hardworking, smart, amazing with our kids…I could go on, but I don’t want you to drown in the gooiness.
But, of course, he’s also human. Me too. Which means that we’re both selfish and resentful and entitled and defensive and lazy sometimes.
And yet, I can truly say that the past 10 years are such a whirlwind of wonderful that the times when the ugliness has outweighed the goodness just fade away, and a decade and 5 babies later, I’m left with this deep and abiding thankfulness to my God that he saw fit to give me Shaun.
I asked him the other day if he thought marriage was hard. He did n’t even pause. He just said, “Nope.”
It’s not that it isn’t. It is. But it sure doesn’t feel that way most of the time when you get to do marriage with your favorite person in the whole wide world.
So, happy 10 years, baby. You are my absolute favorite. Really, really.
P.S. I know that not everyone has it as “easy” as we do. I always hesitate to write posts like this lest I compound the sadness or frustration that you might be going through in your own marriage. But, ultimately, I chose to write it anyway in hopes that it will be an encouragement that marriage, while hard, can be and is a very, very good thing.
I’m also very hesitant to write “how to do life” posts. I’ll show you how I made a wreath or my soup recipe in a heartbeat. But I usually feel like “who am I to give advice on raising kids or marriage or godliness?” After all, I’m so very flawed and riddled with failures and hang-ups on any given day. But then, I think that maybe my extreme humanness might be the very thing that could serve as an encouragement in an area where Jesus is helping me overcome. In other words, if I can do this even marginally well, I KNOW you can!
So my question for you is: is marriage—and specifically how Shaun and I keep our marriage more sweet than sour—something that you’d like to hear more about here?