Amber and Daniel are deep in the throes of wedding planning. They’re making reservations, designing table centerpieces, and trying to figure out the best way to mix Shona wedding traditions with those of the American south. Daniel is happily spreading the news to friends across the world and the glow around Amber has, if anything, intensified. It’s wonderful to see.
And who can witness the anticipation and joy of the soon-to-be-married without thinking back over their own wedding memories? I can close my eyes and remember the fun and frenzy of our days as Paul and I prepared to tie the knot, almost twelve years ago. We were engaged for six months, but sometimes it felt like forever. There was stress, a lot of it. Money worries, dueling schedules, and classes and tests that fell by the wayside in our dash to the altar all jockeyed for our attention. But beneath all that, I felt a constant rippling undercurrent of delight, a thrum of joy at the thought that, soon, I would be sharing a home, a path, a life with my best friend. I couldn’t believe I was actually getting the Happily Ever After.
Of course, Happily Ever After is more a descriptor of a general trend than a moment-by-moment guarantee. Anyone who has been married for a while knows that even the most durable “Happy” can occasionally give way to “Irritated”, “Misunderstood”, and “Violently In Need of Chocolate and a Back Rub”. You learn to roll with the punches (and keep the chocolate close at hand.)
Today, I give thanks for my husband, Paul. I really hit the jackpot the day he cut college classes with me so we could sit in the branches of a magnolia tree talking about school, and family, and the hazy, crazy, far off future. It was the first of many talks, back when I had an opinion about everything, and the world looked like a big, wide open oyster with a shiny pearl in the middle. He was funny, and kind, and we were friends before we were anything. I remember the first time he held my hand, reaching out to take it suddenly as I was about to slip it into my pocket. My small hand was instantly at home in his big one, and when we hugged, my ear lay close against his chest, just over his heart, and it felt like I had always been there in the circle of his arms.
Twelve years. I blinked, and twelve years whooshed by. And what years! Changing jobs, crossing states, adding tiny indispensable people to our family. Crying. Celebrating. Aching, hoping, growing, fighting, stumbling, learning. Choosing each other again, on purpose, every day.
Here are just a few of the reasons Paul is the greatest:
He instinctively knows when I need chocolate and a back rub, and delivers.
He listens, I mean really listens.
He understands the value of retail therapy.
He encourages my passions.
He holds my hair back when I throw up.
He makes sure I get time to myself.
He gives me remedial computer lessons.
He appreciates my strengths and accepts my failings.
He helps me make the beds in the morning, even though that’s my hangup and not his.
He knows what I’m going to say before I do.
He’s a loving, involved father.
He doesn’t expect me to cook, and is wildly appreciative when I do.
He loves God.
He still makes me laugh.
And have you seen the unibrow?
Truly I am blessed among women.