I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I signed up on Match.com 13+ years ago. I had really just signed up on a whim and didn’t have much confidence anything would come of it. I never imagined that within one month of joining I would find my one, true love and be married to him four months later. God really does work in mysterious ways!
From the very first email through to our first phone call and then to our first time meeting, Todd and I just knew. We celebrated our lucky 13th anniversary this past December and I’m still amazed at how everything in life just keeps getting better and better simply because I’m sharing it with him.
Because I hadn’t really dated much and hadn’t had any real relationship experience before I met Todd, I had a lot to learn. I hadn’t had very many good examples of love in action growing up. My parents had a messy, ugly, no-love-lost divorce when I was young. My maternal grandparents, though they remained married, barely hid their contempt for each other. My paternal grandfather died in a car accident when I was 14 months old so I never had the chance to see their lovely marriage. Half or more of my parents’ friends were either already divorced or going through one, it was the 1970s after all. I heard people say they loved their spouse, but I didn’t see much of it displayed.
In both big ways and small, Todd started showing me right away that love is more than just words, it is comprised of many small, daily actions. Little things, like always keeping my car filled with gas, dropping whatever he is doing to make an emergency run to the store when I run out of an ingredient mid-baking, taking over all the laundry duties because he knows I don’t particularly enjoy doing that chore, always doing the dishes after I cook…the list could go on and on. He doesn’t keep track of the things I do for him compared to the things he does for me. He just does things for me because he knows it makes me happy, there is no scoreboard. Naturally, this has translated into me loving to do things for him. Daily gestures of love and kindness help keep love soft. (“Love is kind.” I Co 13:4)
Of course, like all couples, we have disagreements and/or we inadvertently hurt each other’s feelings on occasion. I saw a lot of arguing growing up and little care when feelings were hurt. I never once heard “I’m sorry” or “It’s my fault, please forgive me” after the fact. No one reaffirmed love afterward, either. What I did see was a lot of withholding, grudges, and games played against each other. However, Todd always, always, always apologizes and says he loves me after an argument or when he sees my feelings have been hurt. He always kisses me and with sincerity says he loves me. He does this no matter what and usually within a minute or two of the occurrence. Well, such gentleness and humbleness of heart is impossible to ignore. I have learned to do the same with him and believe this is one of the most important components of feeling safe and being able to forgive and move forward in love together. (“Love is not rude…it is not self-seeking…it keeps no record of wrongs.” I Co 13:5)
Traditional wedding vows include that you promise to “have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” Or, in other words, no matter what happens in life. On our first date I told Todd that I had Multiple Sclerosis. And, I’ll grant you, he didn’t know much about the disease other than it’s not something anyone wants to get. But I will never forget what he said to me, “It’s just one more thing I can learn to love about you.” Seriously, that set the tone for each and every day since. He meant it. My MS has slowly progressed over time since we married. The “in sickness and in health” part of our vows has been a truism. I took early retirement 3 years ago due to my MS, I rely on him to push me in my wheelchair 60-70% of the time when we go out, he has to help me get in and out of the bathtub half of the time, he cleans up my messes because I am so clumsy, and has had to take on many other daily chores around the house that I either can’t do at all or need help doing. As you can imagine, losing the ability to take care of your own needs is a difficult process that is upsetting. He has loved me through my tears, helped me keep perspective, and is my number one source of encouragement. Every single time he says the same thing to me, “It is my pleasure.” I told him the other night that he makes me feel safe. He had the sweetest smile when he turned in response and said, “Good, then I’m doing my job. That’s my goal. You are safe.” (“Love always protects…always perseveres.” I Co 13:6)
The apostle Paul said, in I Corinthians 13:8, that “love never fails”. Indeed, it is the “most excellent way” (I Co 12:31)