I have to admit, when I first read this question, I found myself fumbling for the right words to say. Our love story is fantastic because it is our own, but it doesn't necessarily come with the fireworks and whimsical fairies and woodland singing rabbits that one might expect from a love story.
Each chapter has its own sweetness, but I do think that the sweetness gets, well, sweeter as the story continues to be written.
As far as the meeting and dating and marrying, we met in college. He was a sophomore, I was a freshman. We started dating my sophomore year, when he was a junior. What first attracted me to my husband was his calm confidence. I'm a bit ... high strung? at times, so his exceeding patience and steadiness was something that I found very comforting. And we both laughed really, really hard around each other. I knew he was the one for me. I don't know how, but I just knew.
And he was hot. That helps.
He proposed to me on New Year's Eve 2003 in a Cessna airplane, buzzing above his parents' house, with the words, "Katie, I Love You" written in Christmas lights on the ground.
I'm not sure what I said, but I know we both cried profusely and were married the following year in 2005, after I graduated from college.
And this is really where the love story begins.
We were not your typical newlywed couple. Or, maybe we were, who knows. Either way, it was difficult for us to blend our two lives together. Our first year of marriage was actually one of our hardest. We knew we loved each other, but we both lacked good communication skills (for as much as I love to talk, I can be really, really terrible at effectively communicating how I feel about things) and it was hard. My husband was quiet and I interpreted that to mean he was un-romantic. We've never been exceedingly lovey-dovey, so our first year was really about working out the kinks and pushing away what we thought an "ideal" marriage should look like and focusing instead on what our marriage was supposed to look like.
When we found out we were pregnant with Cub, we signed up for counseling with our pastor. We had miscarried a few months previously, and it brought us to our lowest point--the sadness was strong. We just had a really hard time talking about it. When we found out we were pregnant again, we knew we needed a tune-up. Again, we knew we loved each other. We've never doubted that.
We just had to learn how to love each other.
Kids can either make or break a marriage. Cub's birth was a beautiful blessing for us. It brought us together, the way that kids can, but it also made us love each other and appreciate each other in new ways. I knew my husband would be a good father, but seeing him in that role in real life is a really remarkable and beautiful thing. We enjoyed being a family together and got used to our fun routine!
And then we had another baby.
And then we had another baby.
And y'all, life got crazy.
When you hear people say that empty-nesters can sometimes have a hard time relating to each other because all they've done for most of their marriage is raise kids, I have to say I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND how they could do that. I'm sure before I had kids I swore I would never let kids be the central focus of our lives. But good grief, three kids three and under? IT'S GOING TO BE THE CENTRAL FOCUS. It has to be. They need you to survive. That's kind of a big deal, since you brought them into the world and all.
But, what happened in the midst of that, was my husband and I started falling in love all over again. I mean, not just the "I know I love you" kind of love, but the sassy spark kind of love. In the midst of the chaos, we realized that it took a lot of hard work to be able to spend time together. We had to communicate. If we messed this up, we took three innocent bystanders down with us. I wrote a post about this a year ago. Read it. We started praying together more frequently. And y'all, we are not the couple who sweetly smiles at each other, bows, and begins beautiful prayers together. It mostly started with awkward hand-holding (do we have to hold hands when we pray? uh, you can put your hand on my head, maybe? my shoulder?) and a little fumbling. If we're praying alone, we're fine. But for all of the transparency that marriage has afforded us, praying together is still something that requires work and, bless our hearts, grace.
We get better at it every time. Like other things.
(I went there! I did!)
Most of all, we realized that we weren't willing to let this go. I love him too much. He loves me too much. And so we worked through it. We worked through Lydia's first year, even if we did feel like we were ships passing through the night. And you know what? Being on the other side of it now, we are joyfully, wonderfully reaping the benefits of that hard work. It's like a second honeymoon. The chaos of a newborn plus two toddlers has calmed immensely, and he and I look at each other and say, "We survived!" and we're so glad we survived not only the kids, but each other, too. He held on when my exhaustion brought me to tears. I held on when his old job kept him working late and oh, it made me angry. We forced conversations we didn't want to have. We brought things to light and allowed our honestly and vulnerability to bring us closer. We made time alone a priority, even if we didn't have a reason to celebrate. We're going to go out to dinner and not talk about the kids. We are going to find our common ground. I am going to flirt with you. I am going to hold back words that I know will only pull us apart and I'm going to find words that will bring us together.
And we are going to laugh together. I will call you if only to tell you a hilarious story I heard on the radio about someone who was selling ferrets as poodles. Because I know you will laugh as hard as I did.
It is, perhaps, ironic that it was the chaos of children that has helped us to see what it is we love about each other, without the children. We know there are more struggles that will come our way. And we know we can be stronger because of them.
So. The falling in love before we got married was wonderful. But the falling in love the longer we've been married is the part I never expected ... and the part I love the most.
And my strong, quiet, "un-romantic" husband? He surprised me with a cruise for my thirtieth birthday.
I'm so glad I didn't let my insecurities at the beginning of our marriage to determine the outcome of it.
We work hard for the things we want. And we realized that what we really, really want, most of all, is each other.
Have a lovely day.