Friday, March 1, 2013

Looking Back at 10 Years Together

Reading about other people's relationships is about as exciting as looking at their vacation photos, but I'm writing down my feelings and opinions to mark this milestone of mine and Andrew's relationship so I can reflect on them one day (or maybe my kids can even read this one day).

Andrew took me out on our first date on this day, ten years ago. We went and saw the re-released Lion King on IMAX. The very next day, I took him out for a hot chocolate, and he showed me his recent vacation photos from his family's trip to Australia. About two weeks and half a dozen dates later, I got snowed in at his house for four days, after the second largest blizzard in the last century to hit Denver dumped nearly three feet of snow on the city.

Here we are together at a bowling alley in 2003:

Andrew is a very patient and slow-to-anger person. I am fiery, passionate, and spunky. There were moments early in the relationship when I would get ready to argue or fight, but Andrew would just have none of it. He doesn't believe in yelling or arguing, only in talking things through. In a period of weeks, I could feel myself growing as a person. I learned how to articulate what I was feeling and to ask for what I want or needed out of the relationship. We've been together for 10 years, and my husband has never once yelled at me or shown any signs of anger or hostility at me. There have been moments in which I've gotten mad, but I don't direct it at him. I take a few minutes, and then I come back and discuss things with him. What I'm trying to say is this: we've had problems we've needed to work through, but we've never fought.

From very early on in our relationship, I knew we'd get married. We just got along so well. We complimented each other. Also, we were able to maintain healthy relationships with our friends and family.

When two people first start dating, it's so easy to forget everyone else. Early relationships are passionate and bursting with love and lust and discovery. It's natural to want to spend every waking minute with the other person. At some point, however, that will change. Each person will want to start seeing their friends again, and it's easy to mistake that for not wanting to spend time with your significant other. When we first started dating, Andrew wanted me to go with him when he was hanging out with friends. He used to ask me to go watch when he played Dungeons & Dragons with his buddies, or just hang out while they played video games. I insisted he spend time with his friends without me, and I insisted I do the same. We set up some good boundaries to establish a healthy relationship.

When my family celebrated my grandma's 80th birthday with a huge event at Mahoney State Park in Nebraska, I let Andrew know that I love him and want him to meet my extended family, but I didn't feel like a family reunion was a place to bring a boyfriend. Maybe that idea was a bit extreme, but I felt  (feel?) like those family events are for family: spouses, kids, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters. Not boyfriends. When his family celebrated his grandmother's 80th birthday, I neglected to go, too. If we were going to be together for the rest of our lives, then we'd be welcome and expected at all of those family events as spouses. As boyfriend and girlfriend, I thought we needed to keep a certain degree of separateness. Besides, on the off-chance we didn't stay together, it would be pretty crappy if all of his family reunion photos had his ex-girlfriend in them, and vice versa.

Andrew and I certainly spent a good amount of time together, even while making sure to spend time with other loved ones. We enjoyed camping and hiking together. We played a lot of video games together. Many evenings during the week, you could find him playing World of Warcraft with me reading a book on his bed behind him.

Here were are in 2004 and 2005:

When we'd been together for about a year or so, we'd occasionally discuss marriage. Andrew knew I didn't want to live together until we were married. He also knew I wanted to get married before 26. It sounds a little silly, but I've always wanted to be able to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary. I felt that getting married before 26 would make that more likely than marrying later in life. On August 9, 2006, I was at work at the old Starbucks that used to be at Tamarac Square. I was working a morning shift from 4:30am to 1pm. In the late morning, I got a call from Andrew. He asked me if I'd like to go on a picnic for lunch at Wash Park after I got off work. I said sure and hung up the phone, my heart beating rapidly. We hadn't talked about marriage recently, but I knew he was going to propose that day. I told my coworker about it and struggled to get through the rest of my shift. Andrew picked me up when I got off of work, and, for the first time in our relationship, neither of us could find something to say to the other. The drive to Wash Park was almost silent. We were both so nervous! Andrew picked a spot out under a tree by the lake. He spread out some delicious food from Whole Foods, and we ate in silence. I couldn't think of a thing to say, as all I could think about was, "This is it!" My ears were echoing, and I felt flushed. My memory is actually very patchy here, but, at some point, Andrew said to me, "Becky, I have something to ask you." My heart beat hard in my chest as he got down on one knee and started talking about our life together. I started sobbing (and sobbing). He asked me to marry him, and I just cried and hiccoughed and then kissed him. "Does that mean yes?" he asked me. "Yes," I said.

Exactly one year later, on August 9, 2007, Andrew and I got married at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I really struggled with the wedding, as I don't like being the center of attention. I trembled throughout the ceremony, but Andrew held my hands and held my gaze. I got through it with him and for him and we entered a new stage of our lives as husband and wife.

I love my husband so much. He's my partner in life, my witness to my existence. He's wise, patient, respectful, and, most importantly, nice. We've been together for 10 years, and he's still just so good to me because he's a nice person. I love the compliments he gives me, from my cooking to the vacations I plan for us. Here is one of us in 2008, on our road trip up the California coast to celebrate our first wedding anniversary:

And here we are in Florida in 2009:

At the end of 2009, our relationship evolved further when we became parents. Instead of playing World of Warcraft together almost every night, we'd trade off baby shifts so the other could get some adult time. We had to trust that the other would be waiting for us when we made it through the first year of sleepless nights and almost no time together as a couple. We faced new challenges, and we both changed as people. As we changed, we our relationship had to adapt, but we stuck by each other through everything, never fighting and always talking things through.

Here we are in 2010:

We don't have nearly as much free time as we used to. We have to remember the other and make sure we remember to help each other. I do my best to always make sure he has time to play games with his friends online, like League of Legends, and he does his best to get up at night when the kids are crying and to get up with them in the morning because I really value my sleep.

As our kids get older and are no longer entirely dependent on us, we try to make sure we get time together. Once every week or two, we have a date night in at home so we can have uninterrupted adult conversation. Once a month or so, grandparents watch the kids over night, and we get a real date. In some ways, it's like dating again, but with a lot more trust involved. Sometimes, we might not get time together at all for a couple weeks. We have to trust that we still love each other and will be waiting patiently for the other when we get through that rough patch of no couple time. In fact, when we went to the hospital to have Joanna, I told Andrew, "I'll see you next year," as I kissed him goodbye when he went to park the car at the ER.

Here we are in 2012:

Ten years ago, a tall, young man whose entire face crumpled into a brilliant smile when he grinned caught my eye in writing class. I loved his Jack-Nicholson smile, his white patch of hair above his right ear, and his slight dimple. He was just 19, and I was 20. He describes meeting me with my cute overalls and fiery red hair that matched my face when I blushed. I knew we'd spend our lives together, but I couldn't imagine the journey we would take, together, over the next 10 years. I love Andrew, my partner, more deeply than I can write here. We've faced our share of difficulties, but those are for reflecting on at another time. Today, I'm celebrating the fact that we've made it, together.

I love you, Andrew.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Happy date-a-versary!!!!