At the end of the month, we celebrate a milestone – our 10th wedding anniversary.
Even more of an accomplishment is that we still like each other. You read that correctly. I LIKE my husband.
Don’t get me wrong, we do love each other. Love evolves and changes with each new experience and adventure life throws your way. Sharing a life together is much easier, and more fun, when you marry one of your best friends.
I’m not a Relationship expert, I just play one on TV
Based on my romantic track record prior to Matt, I wouldn’t consider myself worthy of offering any type of romantic advice. I kissed quite a few frogs and I am pretty sure there were times I was the frog.
In my 20s I was convinced relationships were supposed to be fiery and full of passion, not quiet and easy. That could be why previous romances crashed and burned and left me swearing off dramatic relationships forever.
Those previous experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – helped guide me in maintaining a successful marriage with my soul mate who had been right in front of me for years.
Ours was not love at first sight.
Matt will be the first to say he didn’t want anything to do with me when we met on the bus at age 11. He claims my sister and I were both loud and mean, but what girl in junior high isn’t? Over the next few years we both got over my adolescent moodiness and became friends.
We went on a single date in high school because I preferred not to ruin our friendship by actually dating. He did ask me to prom our junior year of high school, as friends, and we remained so for nearly 15 years.
We needed those years to grow up and gain experiences. No matter where I moved in the States or he overseas, we always remained in contact and tried to see each other when we could.
During a visit for his brother’s wedding, Matt looked me straight in the eye and said he was tired of me dating people who treated me poorly. He boldly stated we should risk our friendship and finally date. Talk about fiery exit from the friend zone.
We’ve got issues
When couples first get together, they put out the best versions of themselves. Most of us like to wait a few months before we reveal our inner crazy or quirks.
Because of our years as friends, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We didn’t hide our crazy quirks, we gave them a high five.
All those previous relationship mistakes proved to be good for our marriage. We had talked about them as they happened and knew the effects they had on us personally. They serve as lessons learned so we don’t make those errors again.
We still have flaws, but we don’t use them against each other or point them out. We help each other do better and be better.
Marriage takes mutual effort, but it shouldn’t be hard work. The other half of your dynamic duo should never bring intentional tears, cause self-doubt or insults. Your partner should soothe your worries and not add to them.
Finding the right life partner comes with time and experience. Since we didn’t get married until we were age 30, we had a chance to really develop a sense of self and selflessness that has proved essential in marriage.
Two weeks after we married, we moved to the East Coast. Matt then traveled more than half of that first year. He deployed when our oldest was six months and traveled consistently when both girls were toddlers.
None of us were excited about that schedule, however, we worked together to keep our relationship and our kids at the top of our priority list.
About a year ago, we started talking about relocating again due to Matt’s job. While we didn’t have a choice about our move to Maryland, we had numerous conversations about what kind of move would be best for our family this time.
While we’re here in Germany, he will be traveling less and we can enjoy our time here together. In addition, he’s supporting my efforts to be more entrepreneurial and work from home as a freelance writer.
No matter where we go or the type of work either of us do, I know he’s always in my corner and I’m in his.
Matt has always been funny. His humor is a bit of slapstick and a whole lot of sarcastic. He was the same when we were kids, just shorter with longer hair.
He can pull out movie quotes or song lyrics at just the right time when I am about to lose my cool so that I end up laughing instead of a foul-mouthed tirade.
Adding kids to a marriage pretty much forces a sense of humor. The crazy antics of our mini-me’s keep us on our toes and smiling. Sharing this parenthood journey with Matt is one of my favorites parts in our story. Chaos, toys, dog hair and laughter fills our house.
I’m in awe how our girls take on so much of our personalities yet remain unique. Watching Matt play, teach and encourage the girls has me fall in love with him each day all over again.
Keeping it alive
We don’t look like we did when we first met or even when we got married.
We don’t go bar hopping, belt out karaoke or attend late-night concerts anymore.
Date nights aren’t what they used to be, but we make an effort to spend time alone together. It’s often with beers and Netflix after kids are asleep, or walking the track while kids are playing soccer.
While it’s not glamorous or wild, these are opportunities for quality time to talk to each other about things other than work or parenting. That time to be ourselves and connect as a couple is so important.
However, when he playfully winks at me over the dinner table or tells me I look good (even if I’m in my pj’s) I am taken back to when he first said he loved me and it’s as if no time has passed.
Everyone knew but me
Apparently, I was the only one surprised at Matt’s dating declaration all those years ago.
Friends and family came out of the woodwork with comments like, ‘finally’ and ‘I knew it’. Even my dad said, “Well, it’s about time” when Matt asked for my hand in marriage.
I was pretty clueless there were any romantic feelings harbored over the years. During all our conversations, Matt never offered any clues that he thought of me as anything more than a friend. He’s joked that he knew his patience would prove successful in the long run.
As we moved into our house in Maryland, I found a letter Matt had written to me when I was in college and he was active duty, stationed in Georgia. It was a casual letter just catching up and talking about making time to meet for a drink next time we were both in our hometown.
I don’t know why I had kept that letter all these years, but it made me think that there was a larger plan long before I was remotely aware of it.
I’m glad we didn’t date in high school. It wouldn’t be the same. This marriage, the life we built together, was worth the wait.