Was it after one date or three that my husband bought me a bouquet of tulips? The morning my roommate saw them on my humble Ikea kitchen table, she said to me: “Good Morning, Mrs.’MyHusband’sLastName”. You see, I had declared to the significant people in my life that when a man I was dating brought me tulips, I would marry him.
But I knew before those tulips too. The first night I met him was the same night he asked me if I knew who wrote his name on the unit’s white board (his last name (and everyone else’s names) were purposely misspelled by the day obstetrics unit clerk in honour of Halloween). It was that night he began a conversation with me that would last almost twenty years.
I went home that night shift and called my mom to tell her I met a medical student that made me feel like “I had come home”, “always known him”, “was the one”, or you fill-in-the-blank to a cheesy romantic idiom.
How would I direct my child to choose a spouse? You aren’t going to find the perfect person. And you’re not going to be the perfect person either. I might direct traffic by suggesting that in the meantime they work on that part though: learning what makes you tick and learn a few relational tools. So you can learn before you need to use that stuff. Then you’ll be quicker to identify a right person to be with. And you’ll have a few tools under your belt before you learn that no matter what person you’ve chosen to be with, you’ll need those tools, cause there’s a lot of work to be done, two people to understand and a relationship to build.
Loving your husband would be different than loving my husband, of course. But here’s some things I’ve learned about loving my husband:
1. Loving my husband isn’t loving me. Loving who he actually is takes concerted learning. He thinks differently. Reacts to different things. He is super logic-oriented, in his head thinking his deep thoughts, processing how things work, turning emotions off in high stress scenarios (which makes him a useful emerg doc). He’s the kind of guy who wants fancy chess pieces for Christmas. I had no intention even understanding chess. He’s definitely not me. And that’s what attracted me to him.
2. Loving my husband is speaking his love language and learning that I have to sometimes translate my love language…I speak love with words, and he speaks love with actions, generally. We both have to learn each others’ language. So we have to give a voice to the moments where we aren’t understanding each other, which might result in conflict or confusion. But then we speak, we listen, we clarify, and we learn again. We need to learn what speaks connection at the deepest parts of each other.
3. Loving my husband means accepting who he is, not who I think he should be. My natural giftings are not his, and his are not mine. This comes in super handy when raising a family, especially a homeschooling family. In certain areas, this is really hard for me though. And I am certain he’d say the same. But guaranteed, telling each other that we have to be different people than we actually are will serve neither of us. Gotta accept each other.
4. Here’s one that is relatively new to me: Loving my husband might not be about loving my husband at all. Loving my husband might be about me in the world just loving. It might be about me expressing love into the world. When we love someone, we are expressing kindness or warmth toward ourselves. When we are hurting someone, we are often not at peace with ourselves and it’s showing up. But this guy, he’s the one I’m practicing love with.
The tulips weren’t the end of our story.
We have the wistful-romantic story that has threaded through our marriage. And we have the painful, facing ourselves story that is also threaded through our marriage. And we have the best friend story that is definitely one of my favourite parts of our story.
Our marriage has stories a mile long, like most committed couples. And that is certainly one of the most important of our stories, the commitment one. We had a commitment at a huge church with orange velvet pews and 150 people, then the recommitment to each other on the sandy beaches of Mexico, and the thousands of recommitments along the way, after stupid arguments, on a Venetian canal, in front of a fireplace in a Tuscan villa, when I watch him drive to an exhausting night shift, when he’s teaching the kids math or tickling the kids.
And all the effort expended into this most valuable commitment has yielded so much good. So how could I not end this post by saying to my most consistent retweeter: “Thank you for being my love. For walking through this life with me, struggles and joys. I’m gonna love you forever and ever.” Amen.