I can be a little OCD about washing dishes,” my husband commented, as he rinsed a cup under the hot water.
I glanced sideways at the man I had seen every single day for  years straight. If he would have looked at my face at that moment, he would have seen my smirking smile of surprise.
“Like this cup, for instance,” he continued. “I can’t stand that!”
He tilted a wet cup up onto the dish drain, where previously it had sat flat on the counter.
“See,” he said with a satisfied tone. “Now it will get air inside.”
Astounding. Who was this man? We stood side by side, washing dishes together to make the task easier before heading to the pool. He never ceased to amaze me. The guy who used to leave cereal bowls with sugary milk abandoned on the counter like clockwork suddenly had an opinion about the dish drain.
Just the day before he had said something else that caught me off guard. The thing was, while my husband and I had a lot in common, we also had some major differences. A huge one that had always been difficult for me, and sometimes a point of frustration, was his ability to remain cool, calm, and collected under stress. I’m sure you’re thinking that sounds like a wonderful attribute, and yes, it does. I wish I was that way. And that’s where the problem lay. In situations where I wanted to lose my mind, he was chill. I mean, a lot of times his lax attitude offered me an anchor of stability on tumultuous seas, but other times I had wondered if he had a pulse. Like, didn’t anything bother him?! I wanted stuff to bother him sometimes so I didn’t feel so crazy and out of control. But nope, he typically remained steady and worry-free. It kinda made me jealous. Kinda made me want to strangle him.
Well, anyway, yesterday our pastor had [spoken] on fear, and the things we feared losing in this world. [Afterward] my husband had opened up to me about how much he could relate to the sermon.
“I’m like that,” he had said. “It’s like I have to push it all away and not think about it. Otherwise, I’d be scared to death.”
Oh my gosh. He was faking it until he could make it. All the times over the years when I had been worried and ready to break, he had seemed so nonchalant and unmoved. His stability and faith had inspired me to let go of fear and anxiety. Yet here he was admitting that he was just as frightened as me about the hard stuff in life. He just didn’t talk about it like I did.
Ten years! Ten years we had been married, and I never knew. I loved him even more in that moment. My rock was breakable, but his weakness was alluring. It meant he knew where to gain strength. It meant he walked in strength for us both. It meant I still had a lot to learn about my spouse!
Monogamy Can Be New and Surprising Every Day
I hear people talk about how hard marriage is, and how hard it is to be committed to just one person for your whole life. Folks get bored, drift apart. The passion falls to the wayside, the spark dims, the fire fades, the excitement dwindles. In many instances, the relationship had become monotonous, dull, lackluster. The marriage no longer felt new but comfortable, and they equated comfortable routine with dreadfully the same. They saw monogamy as mundane, with nothing left of interest to learn about their partner.
Well, I disagree. I suppose the idea is that a new romance is exciting. The thrill is in the unknown, so to speak. It’s invigorating to learn someone new. But from my experience in dating, all you learn is surface, superficial details. In a new relationship, it’s the best face that’s put forward. So what you see is what is wanted to be seen. That’s why marriage is hard. You just start to get to know someone when you get [past] the first couple of bumpy years. Even a decade down the road you don’t know them completely.
Seasons change, people change. Jobs change, your health changes. You mature, you learn new things in life. Your desires change, your reactions mature. When you have someone beside you to weather the changes of life, it’s like peeling back an onion. You get to the layers underneath.
Three years ago I assumed my husband was the least “handy” of men. He never tinkered, built stuff, or fixed things. At the time he owned his own business. This past year, as our life circumstances have changed, I discovered all kinds of things about my husband. He was the handiest of handymen! Very resourceful. He had never had the time in the first 8-9 years of our marriage to allow this talent to emerge. He could do all kinds of things I didn’t know he could do. In the past year, I realized he was a great teacher to our daughters, a better cook than me, and wonderful at laundry. Lol!
As we grew closer to God, closer to one another, more comfortable with ourselves, and more comfortable with one another, we were learning things about each other that we never knew. Wonderful, beautiful things. Weaknesses, strengths, passions, and dreams. With the time of comfortable routine and the trust a long, unconditional-love relationship could bring, we were releasing the parts of ourselves to one another that people normally kept hidden. Dating wasn’t the exciting part. That was the inconsequential stuff. It’s the stuff you could experience with the checker of your local supermarket. But marriage. A committed, loving marriage, it was the real deal. Dating was the appetizer. Marriage was the meal you had been waiting for. But it was also the dessert! It was the midnight snack you had been craving. It was the hot cup of your favorite coffee in the morning. And it was the delicious dish you always were too afraid to try, yet once you sank your teeth into it, it became your most favorite food.
Ten years, and I still had so much to discover about that wonderful man scrubbing dirty dishes beside me. Now that was exciting. This was just the beginning. The last decade had been wonderful, but I discovered each day was better than the one before. With each changing season, we changed together. With each discovery of life, we discovered more about one another. As each layer was peeled back deeper, so too did our love grow. Deeper, stronger, more passionate, more wonderful. Why would I want to start again? I was in the best journey of life. The journey to know someone inside and out, to love someone more than myself, to never stop learning how I could love him like he deserved. There really was nothing more exciting.