I had no idea what I was doing when I married my husband, 33 years ago, at almost this exact time. Oh, I thought I did, in the way 25 year olds think they have everything figured out. I remember how I felt the morning of my wedding. After a restless night, I woke up next to Ellen, my best friend, who would stand up for me later. I had expected to sleep deeply, as I had done so many times before, when Ellen and I talked deep into the night. But I was nervous. And that was silly, I thought. I was in love and marrying a good guy and I knew what I was getting in to. Being anxious about the ceremony — that was silly, too. In our hearts Todd and I were already married.
I could write a book about what I didn’t know. Practical things like: how to sleep with a 6’3″ person in a water bed; where to look for missing things when you live with someone who likes things neat.
None of the practical things mattered. I quickly learned to search the drawer closest to where I last saw a missing item, even if it made no sense to put it there. We got rid of the water bed after a year of rough seas. Those early lessons were mere anecdotes.
It took years, decades, to understand the big themes. How hard a man will work to preserve a marriage. How unconditionally loving he is of his children. How there for family — mine and his. How supportive of friends. How committed to faith through service. How responsible to people he does business with.
When I was 25, I glimpsed these qualities but, without context, without experience, didn’t know what I was seeing. Is he perfect? No, but he’s pretty damned special. I’ve now lived with him longer than I lived without him. Clueless no longer, I know what I’ve got.