I don’t publicly talk about my marriage very often. I consider it to largely be a private affair; something special and intimate. It’s not a part of my life that is up for scrutiny or public opinion. But, today I’ll open up just a smidge. You see, it is our 15th wedding anniversary (and 18th year together), and I feel like that deserves a thunderous round of applause. We, committed lovebirds that we are, are a dying breed. And, today I feel like celebrating our journey.
I swore off dating in August 1995, about 2 weeks before I met him. To
take it one step further, I was coming off a tumultuous and painful
relationship with a narcissistic football coach, so I swore off dating
coaches of all kinds forever. I was due for a break. I was sick of the
drama. I seemed to be a magnet for all kinds of pond scum. And I just wanted to be single and focus on my budding career as
an athletic trainer.
Who knew that my future husband was currently the assistant soccer coach where I was a trainer, and would fake an ankle injury to get my attention? (hint: not me)
Bobby kind of snuck into my life and into my heart. Totally unexpected. Totally not my “type” (I was not his “type” either). Totally a coach (which, if you are paying attention to this story, I had sworn off forever). Totally a gentleman. Totally the kind of relationship I needed at the time. He kind of had a thing for me, but was somewhat shy and could be as smooth as sandpaper with the ladies, so the other coaches dared him to ask me on a date (*they never expected me to say yes, and I think they were trying to humiliate him a bit). I shocked the whole athletic department, including myself, by agreeing to go on a date with him. What can I say? He had amazing blue eyes, a gorgeous smile, a great ass, and he made me laugh. The rest, as they say, is history.
For him: pretty much love at first sight – certainly love on first date.
For me: madly in love after a couple of weeks of trying to convince myself not to fall in love in the first place.
His biggest asset, at least initially, was that he was the polar opposite of every man I had ever dated. Most importantly, he was the antithesis of my ol’ man. He was as un-pond scummy as you could get. He was the perfect balance of sentimental with a little swagger (which probably won’t make sense unless you know him personally). He held doors open for me. He looked me in the eye when he talked to me (and he liked to talk). He held my hand willingly in public. He bought me flowers for no reason. He was perfectly happy being monogamous and committed. He wasn’t afraid to talk about the future. He was genuine, sincere, and had this unwavering integrity. The cynics out there will say he was just trying to get in my pants…but to his credit, he remained exactly the same even after the goods were given up, and is still that way today (minus the door holding…I pretty much open my own doors these days).
And, when he proposed, I unhesitatingly said YES.
He has given me so many gifts since we met — the greatest would be considered neither tangible OR material. He has mellowed me out, shown me what unconditional love looks like, and has taught me the power of forgiveness. I had lots of admirable qualities, but when at my worst I could be a nasty blend of combative, suspicious, snarky, and with a sharp tongue. I was a product of my upbringing and words were my weapons of choice. I had little trust in the opposite sex (thanks to my father and the stream of father-esque morons I tried to “fix”). I didn’t feel worthy of the kind of love he was showering me with. And, despite things going really well — I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Early on, when I was feeling particularly unworthy and combative, I’d try to engage Bob with my deadliest weapons of mass destruction: my words. He’d fight back valiantly — with love. Love won.
When I would come to him with scenarios where I felt backed in a corner and felt the desire to lash out as I had been taught to do by expert teachers, he’d encourage me to act with love instead. Love won.
When I had my pretty public cracking-open in 2009, where I left a job and pondered my worth in the world, he held me close and reassured me with love. Love won.
And, in the instances when I temporarily regress and go back to living, loving, and parenting from that deep-seated place of manipulation, scarcity, and fear, he holds me tight and love wins all over again.
I had LOTS of jagged edges when I met him. I was smooth on the surface, but underneath, I was a pincushion of pain. He has softened me and encouraged me to put those verbal weapons of mass destruction away for good. He has helped me raise our daughters in the ways my father did not know how to raise me — with integrity, respect, and patience. He also helped to unearth my long-buried gifts and has gently nudged me to live a more purpose-full life. He knew all along that my mission in life was to build people up, not tear them down — and he helped me to believe it, too. Love was most definitely the catalyst for all of this.
I know I am painting you a really pretty picture here, and it is absolutely wondrous most of the time. But, it is also work. Lots of hard work 365 days a year. During the tough times, it would be so easy to quit, give up and walk away, but our marriage motto has always been “Quitting Is Not An Option.” We made a lifelong commitment to each other, so we show up ready to add kindling to our fire — Every. Single. Day. We’ve grown so much — both as individuals and as a couple — since tying the knot in 1998. But we’ve also worked really hard to make sure that our collective growth didn’t force us apart. We fight, but we fight smarter, hear each other out, and we make up (thanks to him, I now know how to fight fair, and no longer “fight like a Dragani,” a monumental win for me). We sporadically drift, but we quickly throw down the anchors and come back to center. We occasionally get lazy with the little things, but we course-correct and make up for it with, you guessed it: grand gestures of love.
So on this, the 15th anniversary of the day we said “I do,” I would like to make this tribute to him. To honor him, love him, and tell him I would do it all over again. Because, I feel like I am one of the lucky ones who truly did get to marry her very best friend. We are an unstoppable team, Coach, and I am very much looking forward to the next 15 years!
Thank you Bobby for the love, the laughter, and over 15 years of butterflies in my stomach.
keep the fire burning brightly there’s one easy rule: Keep the two
logs together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart –
about a finger’s breadth – for breathing room. Good fire, good
marriage, same rule.” ~Marnie Reed Crowell
a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two
people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its
scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been
enhanced.” ~Robert Sexton
“Do I love you because you’re beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?”
~Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella
“Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.” ~Michael Leunig