Updated: Jul 3, 2019
This is my current favorite picture of myself. And like almost all my favorite pictures of myself, my husband took it. Here's why. Jeff puts me at ease.
Last week we spent five heavenly days away from home to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. Jeff and I met my freshman year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and he proposed to me three years later on a cliff overlooking Moonstone Beach in Cambria. We went back to where we first fell in love to celebrate, and though we've visited the area many times with our kids in the last fifteen years, being up there together without them was like going back in time.
The wonderful good news after twenty years of marriage is that I still really like my husband, and I like myself when I'm with him. Biking around our old college town, walking the beaches, digging through thrift stores, eating at all our favorite dives last week, I remembered that it's always been this way. From Day One of our courtship I could be myself. It started at a weekend Christian camp, where I invited him to sit under a tree with me and share a package of Twinkies I'd brought from the dorm food hall (He declined the Twinkie. I owed my Freshman Fifteen to Twinkies). On our first date, we played basketball with a group of friends and he bought me a Slurpie at 7-11. It was like hanging out with someone I had known a long time.
There were fireworks and butterflies when we were first dating. But there was never fear or drama. I knew he would call when he said he would. I didn't have to have all my makeup on or my crap together. I could tell him the truth about how I was feeling -- not that he necessarily had any idea what to do with how I was feeling, but he was a great listener and never judged me. And it's still this way.Though we also drive each other crazy occasionally, as any human beings would who share a bathroom, a bed, a checkbook and the responsibility of raising two other human beings, at the core of our relationship there is peace.
So I would like to offer an action step to two potential audiences today.
The first, to the single ladies: Seek peace, not drama. Seek a man who makes you feel at ease with yourself. Don't confuse anxiety with chemistry. The character Alex in the movie He's Just Not That In To You says it best:
Guys invented the "spark" so that they could not call, and treat you kind of bad, and keep you guessing, and they convince you that that anxiety and that fear that they're throwing at you is actually, just a "spark". And you guys all buy it. You eat it up. And you love it. You love it because you feed off that drama.
Relationships last when they are based on authenticity and integrity. A man that makes you feel nervous when you're dating will not necessarily get safer when you're married. Chew on that, with my love.
Second, to the married ladies. If you miss the romance of courtship, which we all do at times, embrace the slow burn of ease and friendship with one another. I love getting dressed up and getting my makeup on for date night. I also love that my husband is still "in to" me when when I'm wearing an apron and frying eggs or slouching in front of Netflix. I love it when he occasionally -- very occasionally -- buys me flowers and makes a romantic speech. I love that we went back to our proposal spot and took pictures and that I still get butterflies (see our schmoopy picture below), but even more I love riding shotgun in his car and feeling safe in the silence.
In our wedding vows, I told Jeff that He showed me what God's love was like, and he continues to do that: it's love that lets me be me, celebrates me, and sometimes pushes me to be better, but only after I have full confidence in its security and favor. I wish that kind of love for you today.