When we were in high school, I loved him because he didn’t care what anyone thought. He didn’t care what he should or shouldn’t do. And I loved him for that freedom because when I was with him, I felt free, too.
In college, he began to love me as an adult. Not a perfect adult (are there any perfect adults?), but in that “I will love you for the rest of my life” way. And I loved him for that promise of what was to come.
In the earliest years of our marriage, he worked hard to build a foundation for our life. He worked hard to provide for our future and our family. And I loved him for that devotion and loyalty.
Today, everything he does is for our family. To give our children the very best he can. To make me happy and fulfilled. He loves us so completely and so fiercely that it shines through in everything that he does. And I love him for that passion.
Chris is not that same boy I fell in love with – thank God! He isn’t even the same dreamer I loved in college or the same hardworking man who I married. He is bits and pieces of each of those former selves, and I love that. I love that every now and then, I can see the high school sweetheart who stole my heart, especially when he’s hanging out with Bean, just doing boy things. And I love that I see the college boy who loved me imperfectly, but completely, when we finally have a few minutes to sit down and talk to each other like real adults at the end of the day. I even love those nights and weekends when he works late and the kids and I sneak up to rehearsals to bring him dinner and kisses, just like I used to do when we were first married.
We wear the history of our love like rings on a tree trunk. Our former selves are weaved intricately throughout our lives today to make us stronger and wiser. And isn’t that what good marriages do for us? They make us stronger, wiser versions of who we used to be?
No, I am not married today to the same man who stood at the alter with me almost ten years ago. We are each different people now, but in the growth of who we have become, is the strength of our marriage.
Chris and I have been together for over half our lives, and friends have sometimes asked me if it’s boring to be with the same person for so many years. My answer is always, “Of course it would be boring to be with the same person!” I think that’s been the secret that has kept Chris and I happy for so long. We embrace change in our relationship. Is it always easy? No. By nature, I am not a fan of change. But that slow, steady forward movement in our marriage is key to happiness for us.
Who wants to be married to that jerk they dated in high school for their entire lives? Not me.
Which is why I am so thankful that I’m not. I can’t wait to see who I will be married to in the next ten years.