Eleven Years


Eleven years ago today, I ran laughing through birdseed rain, opened the passenger side of a heavily vandalized Plymouth Sundance, gathered the train of my wedding gown in after me, and reached out to slam the car door…on my brand new husband’s hand.

Unseen by me, Paul had been reaching around to unlock the back door of the sedan so he could slide in a basket of food that had been thoughtfully prepared for the long drive ahead of us. He saw me grab the door handle, and he moved quickly—but not quickly enough. When he pulled his arm back, there was a long, deep gash across the last three fingers of his right hand.

Everyone thinks these glistening eyes are welled up with tears of emotion:

They aren’t. That’s pain, pure and simple.

Had I been thinking beyond the tin cans tied to our bumper or our honeymoon plans in Eureka Springs, I might have recognized the metaphor when it happened. Because the eleven years since that moment have been mostly one long, amazing wedding day for us—but with a few smashed fingers along the way.

I’ve already told you some of the things I love about Paul; what else can I say?

At eleven years, we’ve outlasted most celebrity marriages, but we’re still “the kids” to my parents, who have been married for 35 years, and to my grandparents, who have spent over half a century perfecting the art of living, laughing, and sharing the blankets with each other. They still can’t navigate their way around a street map without getting into an argument, but even when they are calling each other’s visual-spatial intelligence into question, the love is clearly there.

At eleven years, we’ve slogged through swamps of misunderstanding, and danced through easy meadow days, when everything around us seemed gilded with sunlight and I expected at any moment to hear a Disney princess burst into song in the background. We’ve been happy; we’ve been terrified; we’ve been hopeful; we’ve been giddy. I’ve hurt Paul and he’s hurt me, but underneath and forever, we recognize that we are on the same team, and the Coach of that team keeps us pulling together in the same direction.

At eleven years, we finish each other’s sentences, and laugh at the same jokes, and a single phrase can evoke a richly detailed memory of some shared experience (like this one: “must be an old fart.”) At least once a day I open my mouth to say something and find the words already hanging in the air, uttered a split second earlier by the guy sitting next to me. It’s a little disconcerting to have someone around who is so intimately acquainted with your brain’s little vagaries, but it’s comforting, too. Who doesn’t yearn to be truly known, and loved for the good and the bad and the weird together?

At eleven years, I am still madly in love with the man I married—with his goofy jokes and his morning breath and his thoughtful gifts and his changing moods. I love his generous spirit. I love hearing him pray. I love the moment when he comes home from work. I love watching him play with our kids. I love his concern for others. I love that he spends time every day on the care and feeding of my heart, and it makes me want to take care of his.

I wrote this sometime during the first year of our marriage:

Crossed over once more
into his strange country
hacking through the underbrush
of my own point of view
fighting the strangling weeds
of fear and self-concern
to stand at last on his mountain
seeing clearly again
free from the vines
that choke
the path between two hearts

At eleven years, constant trips back and forth have trampled down the underbrush and strangling weeds, but the path between two hearts requires constant maintenance. Fortunately, we’re becoming better gardeners every day.

Thank you for eleven wonderful years, Paul!

I love you.


19 responses »

  1. Very sweet and congratulations on eleven years. Now just a few questions: Nathan wants to know who those people in the car were (he had no idea), and then he wants to know how you got married in a car. I want to know what happened to all of Paul’s hair and how you managed to keep that dress up.

  2. Shoot. Here I am quietly weeping over my keyboard once again. What a beautiful and encouraging post, Katrina. Thanks, again, for sharing.

  3. This is so beautiful. It makes me sad too, though, because my husband and I were just the same…

    I am glad that you two have a bright and beautiful future together. This post was so touching.

    *wipes tears

  4. Congratulations!

    “Who doesn’t yearn to be truly known, and loved for the good and the bad and the weird together?”

    Wow. I know that is SO the longing of my heart. One day… ( I hope!) *sigh*

    Thanks for sharing this post. It’s really good to read about good, loving, marriages among a lot of muck! You definitely have something to be proud of!

    And? Great pictures! 😀

  5. After seeing the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” my husband Paul and I pondered the question if there was a right one out there for everyone. Our answer was, we’re not sure for others, but it is true in our case. I think one of the most important decisions you make in life is who you will marry, and, if you make the right choice, and keep God as the center of your marriage, then it is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding adventures there is in life. Congratulations, and may the Lord continue to bless your marriage. He has blessed ours for 20 wonderful years!!!

  6. Wow! Eleven years? Michael & I are there and sneaking up on 12 in May. I’m so happy for you – every year is a treasured gift!!!!

    Now, to comment on the pictures…first, loved the dress! Second, you look pretty much the same; Paul looks like a baby (maybe it’s the hair, or lack thereof in more recent pics). Third, isn’t it fun to find things that were written at the beginning of your journey????

    Great post, as usual!

  7. Beautiful writing. I’ll never hear this kind of thing from my wife, because she has always had a problem communicating her feelings. Her dad did a real number on her.

    But I can imagine that this is how she feels. Maybe I’ll never know. We’re going on 17 years, and the last 5 or 6 have been almost all about the kids. Circumstances have forced us into not focusing on each other. I know, as does she, that we have a lot of damage to undo once the kids are grown. In a way, I’m kind of looking forward to it… Getting to know each other again, going on dates like we’re kids, falling in love again.

    Congrats on the anniversary and the good times. Those pictures brought back memories of my own wedding… Time to get out the ridiculously expensive wedding album and look at the old photos.

  8. Wow! I can’t believe it has been 11 years since you walked barefoot down the aisle.

    I didn’t know how young we all were at the time. But wow you guys are just babies in the pictures.

    I had forgotten you slammed his hand in the door!


  9. If you had only shown the picture of the two of you in the car, it would have spoken volumes enough. What amazing joy you both have on your face (okay, and a little pain) but then you add your lyrics to the photos and share your inner thoughts in your talented way and we get even more beauty.

    It is no surprise to me at all, that someone with such an incredible spirit married someone equally as wonderful and has built such a loving relationship. You have a good role model to follow, and you’ve chosen to make Him the focus.

    I will not deny, I am so envious.

    I thought, once, that I had this, too.

  10. Those pictures are so great! This post is wonderful. I’m such a wuss — I’m totally all teared up at work. If I were at home, I’d have let my eyes spill over reading this.

    So happy for you, and I hope someday I can write a post on my 11th anniversary — and 20th, and 30th, and beyond — feeling the same way.


  11. What Hillary said and a little bit of what Amy said.

    Choke, gasp–you were such a beautiful bride.

    That poem is so beautiful. Right now my mom and both of my Sally’s are going through dry times and not really sure why I want a hubby, but you put it so well.

    I’m at work and almost tearing up too.

    Mazel tov and all that. Happy Anniversary!!!

  12. So are SUCH a beautiful bride… on so many levels, inside and out. 🙂 This was a beautiful tribute. I hope to be a blessed as you are some day.

  13. Congrats on 11 years…my wife and I hit ten years in May…I can relate…the years have had their ups and downs, but in todays world 10+ years is an accomplishment.

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