"I didn't marry you because you were perfect. I didn't even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn't a house that protected them; and it wasn't our love that protected them - it was that promise."
Thornton Wilder, The Skin of Our Teeth
C and I married when we were very young (19 & 18 years old). By that point, we'd known each other nearly six years and had spent a lot of time getting to know one another over that time as good friends and when we dated off-and-on, so it seemed like a good idea. While I wouldn't trade a day of the life I've had with this man, I often advise other young people not to get married quite so young. Those early years were particularly wrought with challenge as we learned to be married at the same time we learned to be adults. It didn't always make for the most pleasant exchanges. It wasn't until we allowed Christ to be our mediator and guide that we were able to grow up and understand the goodness of marriage -- ours!
Today, is our anniversary. On a very, very windy day -- in an outdoor wedding -- twenty years ago, today, we made a promise to one another for the first time. Every day since that day, we have lived that promise, meaning it more and more as we grow to understand more fully the words we repeated to one another during the ceremony.
Here is a list of twenty reasons I continue to keep my promise (in no particular order)...
1. He's still here -- keeping his promise to me.
2. C is a natural Christ-like leader. He is gifted in his understanding of what it means to lead this family (as well as in other environments like at work and in ministries at church) -- and knows well that most of it is about serving, very little of it is about bossing.
3. When the Chinese place where my favorite Wor Wonton soup is made is closed (and it's the only thing I want to eat when I feel really sick), he takes the time to get the ingredients and makes some from scratch. And that becomes my new favorite Wor Wonton soup. (It was so good!) Plus all the other awesome things he cooks for our family and friends.
4. He calls me his "Lady," which no matter how tough and tomboy I can be sometimes, reminds me of my inner girly-ness and just how much I love being taken care of by my big, strong man.
5. He will allow me to talk through every nagging thought about our kids, their issues and my hopes for their future -- repeatedly. AND, he provides thoughtful feedback, which tells me he's actually listening.
6. He is a fierce protector of our marriage and family and he is always alert to things lurking in the shadows that might threaten these things -- be it other people, life stresses, where our money is spent or just temporarily misplaced focus on the unimportant.
7. C knows when enough is enough and he'd better bring me some flowers, an email love-note of encouragement or a night out without the children before I lose it completely. And he makes it happen.
8. He's great at thinking up mini-dates because our life is not conducive to very many elaborate ones -- so he'll figure out spur of the moment opportunities for us to run to Lowe's together or to go fill up the gas tank (and then we'll grab an ice cream cone or something while we're out).
9. He supports things I'm interested in -- like taking pictures and writing. He buys me camera equipment in lieu of jewelry because he knows my preferences. He makes sure that our family photos are well-protected on our server and makes sure our computer is in good working order so I can come out here and type blog posts, etc. He does all this even though I'm pretty terrible at supporting all his interests in return (but I'm working on it!).
10. We like some of the same television shows and enjoy watching them together when we can stay awake long enough.
11. He knows my favorite things to order at various restaurants AND how to order them correctly (certain things on the side or take off this or that). This comes in handy when I am tired or can't think clear enough and I just tell him to "surprise me." Instead he just amazes me.
12. Even though he desperately longs for a clean house to come home to, he tolerates quite a bit of mess around here because he understands that some days -- many days -- keeping up with the house ends up on the low-priority list, compared with school and errands and fun moments with the kids.
13. He not only tolerates my imperfections, he seems to find a strange satisfaction in loving me because of them.
14. He sends/brings me flowers occasionally, which I love, but he also brings me little gifts like new pens or other office supplies because he knows I delight in them and use them every single day.
15. When I cannot teach a particular concept, he always finds a way to explain it to the kids. It's so reassuring knowing that I have a partner in their education. He's always been a big supporter of our decision to home school and when I have moments of doubt, he's right there to encourage me that we're doing the right thing and that my lessons are sound and the students are learning and doing well.
16. He always takes the time to answer my emails or phone calls -- even if he's working -- to deal with a problem that's too big for me to deal with alone. He stays involved in what's happening here and seems glad to be a part of it (even the less enjoyable parts).
17. He forces me to stretch myself to dream bigger.
18. He tells me I'm beautiful to him and how much he loves me, even if my face is all puffy and red because I've been crying over something really stupid.
19. C is super hard working. He refuses to allow our family to fall into financial hardship by putting in every effort at work and home to keep us above water and able to help others with any extra.
20. He is my best friend. No one knows me better than he does and I'm good with that. We have a lot of fun together and enjoy just hanging out. I can think of no one with whom I'd rather spend time.
Happy Anniversary, Husband. Twenty years and counting. I love you!