March 15, 2005 – I stopped at the mall to chat with one of my best friends while she worked at the coffee shop. In walks a tall, hairy, mountain man with crow’s feet and crystal blue eyes. Eight months later I married the red neck.
November 26, 2016 – This Saturday we’ll celebrate our eleventh anniversary.
As a romance writer and reader, I’ve spent hundreds of hours studying romance, so you can imagine my surprise when I got married and nothing about it reflected anything I’ve ever read or written. That’s right – fiction is nothing like real life.
How are things different? I’m glad you asked, because there’s nothing that I enjoy more than sharing stories about my life with my husband.
- Sincerity Trumps Romance: Candle lit dinners, roses, and over-the-top proposals. Those are okay, but they’re probably your man’s best effort to win your heart. It’s not anything he can (or will) keep up over time. So what are you left with? Someone who empties the dishwasher. A person to haul the kayaks for you. Someone who listens to you talk about stuff he doesn’t care about. It may not be movie-worthy romance, but it lasts.
- Irregular Conversations: When we were dating, we talked about our future. We made plans. We dreamed. Now we’re living in that future, and our topics have changed. We talk about work (I never imagined so many conversations about garbage, building materials, or truck route planning) and our health (you wouldn’t believe how much of your health revolves around poop – so many conversations about bodily functions). We still dream and make plans, it’s just that many of those plans now revolve around scheduled bathroom breaks.
- The Laughter: Marriage isn’t really about sex. It’s about laughter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the sex (a lot), but it’s not an everyday sort of activity. Laughter, however, can happen anytime, anywhere. And it does. And after eleven years together we have more than a decade of shared secrets, funny stories, and ammunition.
- The Changes: You can’t stop the natural maturity and changes that happen after eleven years of life. And it’s kind of amazing how some things never change, no matter how much you want them to. If you’re waiting for him to change, your expectations are skewed. Marriage is a partnership. You can’t expect something from him that you aren’t willing to offer yourself. It’s not about one of you changing for the other. It’s about both of you changing to become better people.
- The Commitment: There have been several times in the past eleven years when I wanted to walk out the front door. I’ve packed my bags. I’ve packed his bags. I’ve cried and screamed. We’ve looked at each other and known – we’d made a mistake marrying someone so completely different. But when you’re married you commit yourself. Your differences don’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters is that one similarity – that you promised to stay with each other for good. Leaving isn’t an option.
I won’t lie. I wasn’t expecting any of this, but I wouldn’t change any of it. I love knowing that my honey’s here for me no matter what, and I love being able to support him through everything. Marriage certainly hasn’t been as romantic and me-centered as I thought it would be, but I wouldn’t change that for anything. Learning how to love and care for someone unconditionally has made me a better person. I can’t wait to see who I am after the next decade.
Happy Anniversary, Honey!