When I married Hubby, we didn’t know each other very well. We met one weekend, wrote for nearly a year—continents apart—and then on our first date, he proposed.
After that first date, I re-boarded a plane, and we planned a wedding long distance. Which meant all our dating and getting to know one another took place after we were husband and wife.
Photo credit: Simply Kristina Lee Photography
After we had been married several years, Hubby and I were trained to conduct pre-marital counseling as lay counselors at our church. One of the important points we made to these starry-eyed, young engaged couples was how important it is to really know the person you marry. You need to know their spending habits, how they manage anger, what their expectations are for marriage: “I expect to have a dozen kids,” or “I expect to spend all holidays with my family.” You need to know these things before you get married, we’d say.
Conveniently, I think Hubby and I might have forgotten to mention to these young couples our own story. Do as we say, not as we did.
Through the years, I grew to love Gary more because he was that kind of guy. He was thoughtful and kind, always considering me and the kids first. He was responsible—someone had to be—and fun to do life with.
This is not to say he wasn’t exasperating, or I didn’t ever frustrate him, or we never exchanged cross words. He was. I did. We might have exchanged a few.
Earlier in our marriage, I tried to talk him into buying a barn that we could convert into a home. He didn’t go for it. For years afterward, every time we passed an old tumble-down barn, he’d point it out: “Look, hon. There’s a barn for you.” You see? Exasperating.
I, on the other hand, would only let him fast-forward through three songs if we were watching a musical (think Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in Funny Face) when he would have preferred to fast-forward through all singing and dancing. Frustrating to him.
And then cancer came knocking. And we embarked on what would be the best ten years of our marriage as we took more road trips, created more adventures and made some terrific memories.
During the last nine months of his life—when Hubby was slowing down and needed more care—I fell even deeper into love with him. I can’t explain it other than I saw things more clearly as death approached and my heart expanded with larger love and gratitude for him, and for all the people who loved us, and for God who carried us in peace through the scary stuff.
Even though I didn’t know what I was getting into when I married Hubby as a nineteen-year-old, I got the better end of the deal. And that’s not a falsely-modest comment. It’s truth.
One of author Fredrik Backman’s characters provides an interesting word picture of how loving someone is like moving into a house:
At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you … Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections. … These are the little secrets that make it your home.
That was Hubby and me.
But here’s the bad thing about having such a good thing. It’s hard to imagine I could ever remarry. I would never want to remarry merely for financial security, or because there would actually be someone to accompany me on Friday date nights (vs. doing them alone).
If I should remarry, I would want it to be like moving into a house. I would want to be amazed at this beautiful structure that was mine. And as time passed, I would want to grow more in love with this house with all its imperfections and secrets that would make it uniquely ours.
Do you have a really good thing going? Do you sometimes take that person or family or lifestyle for granted? Or have you lost a really good thing and aren’t sure it can ever be replaced?
We all might want to re-think our views on love and houses and expressing appreciation. And second chances.
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