13 years ago today, my now-husband proposed to me.
It wasn’t a surprise. We had been talking about it for some time. And when I look back, I often wonder if he knew then what he knows now, would he have still asked me for this lifelong committment?
Marriage, in short, is hard. Especially when a bachelor of almost 30 marries a headstrong, stubborn woman with a headstrong, stubborn 2 year-old daughter.
So much of these 13 years has been a healing process for me. I’ve had to learn, really learn, how to trust someone.
I’ve had to learn how to love myself. Which is something that, until recently, I never knew how to do.
One of our biggest fights as a married couple was over my returning to college.
I felt, deep in my gut, that it was something I had to do. My logical-minded spouse had other thoughts. Practical thoughts. Thoughts that, so many times, I wished I had heard without feeling like he wasn’t hearing me.
Those years I was in school were some of the hardest of our marriage to date. And the years following were just as trying.
My husband has flaws, don’t get me wrong. He’s imperfect. But when I look back, I only think about how difficult I must have been to live with in those years that I was healing, and searching for that healing.
I put him in some impossible situations where he had to simply stand by, love me, and silently support ideas that he knew were going to make life especially hard for him. For me. For all of us.
But he did.
He has had to stand by while I learned how to let him co-parent a child that isn’t biologically his, but that he is responsible for in every way, as if she was his own.
And he’s never once complained about supporting her or being the present father in her life.
When I think back to where we were, just a year ago, I am amazed at how far we’ve come. The grace we’ve extended to one another. The healing that has eased into not only me, but how he and I relate to one another.
We spent some time in marriage counseling, and when it started getting real, and difficult, we stopped going. But, amazingly, I believe the few things we learned in those sessions have had a lasting, positive impact on how we communicate, and how we perceive what is important to each other.
I don’t write about our marriage very often, mainly out of respect for my husband’s privacy. He isn’t the open book of feelings that I tend to be.
One of the things I love about him is his thoughtfulness. Yes, he’s thoughtful in terms of putting others before himself, but I mean a different kind of thoughtfulness, too.
My husband thinks before he speaks. He measures his words. He has incredible self-control when it comes to conversation. And I’ve come to view this as a plus, when, in the past, I have nagged and pushed him to speak when he wasn’t ready. I’ve come to appreciate that ability to consider, to contemplate, and to not just say something, but something real. True. Honest.
People say building a house is one of the most stressful things a couple can do together. That it can break people. I find that the opposite is happening. I find that we are leaning more on each other and into our marriage than ever before. I find that we are still a great team. And I find that we both view this opportunity not as a stressful event, but as an experience that can afford us a new beginning. A chance to incorporate all the things we’ve learned about ourselves and each other these last 13 years.
For us, I believe it is the start of something new. Something powerful. Something strong.
They say 13 is a lucky number. I only know that I’m the lucky one. And that, if I knew all those years ago what I know now, when he was on one knee with a ring, I’d still say yes. And I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he would still be asking.