I realize that this is not actually an ode – which is more of a poem, but it makes for a very good title.
In light of Sunday being Valentine’s Day, I’ve taken some time to reflect on relationships and marriage – mine in particular. Paul and I met about 15 years ago. I was 24 years old and he was 29. Now we are, well, 15 years older. What I find amazing is how, at that age, I knew that I loved him but I really had no idea what that meant. It’s still amazing to me that after all of the changes we’ve gone through, that I still know that I chose the right person. But what did I see then? How could I have known?
Through my 24 year old eyes, I fell in love with Paul because he was smart, witty, adventurous, handsome, successful, etc. Together, we lived a dating life that made it fairly easy to get along. At first, we lived in our own houses, but even when he moved in, it was still fairly easy. We had a nice house, double income, a (very adorable) dog and a couple of cats. During the week we went to work and spent our nights reading books together or watching a movie here and there. We spent a ton of time going out with friends, traveling and entertaining ourselves. It was easy at that point to come to the conclusion that he was the person I wanted to marry.
We didn’t know that about two weeks after we got married, our footloose and fancy-free life would change forever when I got pregnant. (All of the things that they say about your body needing to recover from years of birth control before you have kids are not exactly true for everyone. Me included.) I won’t go into all of those changes but skip ahead to 12 years later. We have three daughters, a house we mostly built ourselves and somewhat of a Renaissance life that we’ve created.
How could I have known at 24 that my partner would become what he is today? I didn’t know he’d make an amazing father or turn into a skilled wood worker or even that he’d learn the skills he needed to build a house for us. He’s joined a church and become an involved member, taught Religious Education classes, taken swing dance lessons with me, goes to the gym with me on a regular basis, reads cookbooks for fun, cooks amazing meals, takes us on family hiking trips and much, much more. Looking over these last 15 years, I have to say that I’m a bit surprised. And very, very grateful.
I thank my young 24-year-old self for seeing something in Paul that would be essential to our life together. I’m still not quite sure what it was? Looking back, I think his curiosity, interest in things (and people) and a drive to always continue learning have helped us to grow and change together. When we are continually pushing the envelope together, that’s where the true marriage magic happens and what will keep us together through whatever is ahead.