He proposed to me on a snowy Wednesday evening in December of 1994. I was 19, he was 21. Heavy snow and ice had caused the power to go out across our college campus, right in the middle of studying for midterms. With no lights and no electricity, students poured from the dorms, elated at this unexpected study break. On the college courtyard, scores of students engaged in an epic snowball fight. He and I laughed at the sight, but walked in the opposite direction, away from the free-for-all.
By the light of the moon, we walked hand in hand through a dazzling wonderland of ice-encrusted trees.
Being his spontaneous self, he hadn’t planned to propose that night. Later, he told me he knew he was going to ask me, but he didn’t know when. That snowy night “just felt right.” Since the proposal was off-the-cuff, he had no velvet-lined jewelry box hidden in his pocket. (I got my ring a few weeks later.)
What does a 19 year-old girl know about making a decision meant to last a lifetime? Or a 21 year-old boy?
My answer—yes—flew out of my mouth without hesitation. I had found my person. We were married a year later. My Dad, a minister, officiated at our wedding. I requested that he leave the word “obey” out of our vows, which he did.
We’re just about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. In some ways, our wedding day feels like it was yesterday; at the same time, that day was a lifetime ago: when we took our vows, there were no children, mortgages, car loans, or job interviews. We didn’t know much about retirement funds or grocery budgets or how to entice a stubborn toddler to keep his shoes on.
But for twenty-five years, we’ve just continued saying “I do.” We take on challenges one by one, as they present themselves: dirty dishes, family vacations, gray hairs, and bank statements—the big things and the small things all swirl together into the colorful collage that’s become the roadmap of our life together.
The statistic that nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce is a sobering reality. I wonder: do 50% of married couples have a lurking, uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach from the very beginning? Or do most of us start out with blissful optimism and just hope everything works out?
All I know is that my person becomes more precious to me as the years go on. I love him for his deep commitment to what is right, and the way he never takes the easy way out to do anything. I love him for his honesty: the light he holds up to others is just as bright as the one he holds to himself. I love the way he used to start wrestling matches with the kids, getting them all riled up just before bedtime. I love the way his eyes crinkle up when he laughs, which is often. He still makes and brings me coffee each and every morning—even though he wouldn’t have to. I think I love that most of all.
Marriage isn’t easy. There is no autopilot button for when things get tough. It takes work: some days require the hard work, roll-up-your-sleeves variety, and other days only need preventative maintenance. But luck plays a big part, too. For some reason, I found my person and we grew up alongside each other. We held on and just kept saying ‘I Do’ over and over. My story could’ve just as easily gone a different way.
My husband describes us like two trees who have grown side by side; over the years, our roots have become hopelessly entangled just beneath the soil. Our roots keep growing stronger, nourished by love and joy.
I like that. I do.
Originally published Jan. 26, 2021 on MyHuntleyNews.