This morning, I find myself in a rather sentimental mood, for today my husband and I celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. As I look back over the past years, I can only conclude God has had a mighty hand in our marriage. While I realize it sounds a bit cliché, I am truly blessed to be married to my best friend. When I look back on our wedding day, I remember the love I felt as I repeated my wedding vows with my handsome husband-to-be. In the words of one of my favorite songs, I am reminded of how “I thought I loved (him) then.” As a young bride, I had no idea of what was still yet to come. All these years later, I realize that my love for my husband has greatly multiplied as we continue to walk through life’s experiences together.
Our love story began at a very young age. We met in a high school math class during our senior year of high school, started dating, and attended our senior prom together. We were the high school sweethearts people like to talk about that really did end up getting married. After high school graduation, he had plans to go off to Texas A&M University and be in the Corps of Cadets. Following just one visit to the beautiful campus, I decided to join him. We learned to navigate the campus and college life together. By the end of our sophomore year, I was pretty certain he was the boy I was supposed to marry.
However, during our junior year, it became clearly apparent that he was indeed God’s chosen partner for me. I realized that my care-free, fun-loving boyfriend was turning into quite a man…a man that was concerned about providing a future for me, a man that understood the importance of a Christian home, a man that made promises and kept them, a man that fiercely believed in doing the right thing regardless of the cost, a man that I could love for a lifetime. We were engaged after our junior year of college. After dating for five years, we were eager to get married and start our life together. We married almost immediately after graduating from college on July 22, 1989.
A few years later, when I became pregnant with our first child, I saw a new side to my young husband. He shopped for baby furniture with me, painted the baby’s room, discussed baby names, and slowly but surely embraced his new role as a father-to-be. When my delivery did not go quite as planned, and I was forced to have an unscheduled C-section, I remember him standing by my side and joking with the doctors, both Aggies, about the upcoming football season. The moment our child was born, he effortlessly slipped into his new role as father. While I felt like I had been hit by a truck after the 30+ hours of labor, he absolutely bounded into fatherhood. He immediately learned to change diapers, held and comforted that newborn baby, sterilized bottles, and washed loads and loads of tiny baby clothes while I was still trying to recover from a difficult delivery. Even though I know he was absolutely exhausted, his bright blue eyes beamed with pride as visitors came to see our daughter. I distinctly remember him coming home from work one afternoon and telling the story of reaching into his pocket for something during his work day and laughing sheepishly as he pulled out a diaper (an unused one—thankfully). This is how much he embraced his role as a new daddy! How do you not love a man like that?
Several weeks later, when I resumed teaching night classes at the local community college, I can remember coming home to see daddy and daughter in the living room watching Monday Night Football. Such a precious sight to see! This became a regular occurrence which later included our second child as well. I can remember the evening that he and his father worked until after midnight to put together the swing set for our daughter’s second birthday. I can also remember countless Christmas Eves with many hours of tab A to tab B assembling various toys for both of our children, yet he never once complained.
Over the years, my husband has attended many impromptu tea parties with my daughter, read countless princess books, and played the role of Prince Charming in many of our daughter’s adventures. He built a dance room for my daughter, the aspiring ballerina, and attended literally zillions of dance recitals, performances, and competitions. As our daughter got older and busier with high school, my sweet husband got up early on many a Sunday morning to cook breakfast with her so that he could make sure she received his undivided attention.
He built an impressive rendition of Texas A&M’s Kyle Field with Legos with our son, attended and coached countless sporting events, and has actively embraced whatever interest my son is currently pursuing. I can still remember my toddler-aged son following his daddy around the house with his Fisher Price tool belt slung around his waist. He was Daddy’s shadow from a very young age. My husband spent hours with my son building and launching model rockets and later, building and flying model airplanes. He learned the game of tennis and has traveled all over the area to my son’s tennis tournaments. Lately, he has acquired an interest in shooting sports as my son is quite the competitive shooter. I feel certain that one day my son will truly understand the depth of his father’s support and realize that Dad has always been his greatest fan.
Today, I know my husband is the reason my daughter has high aspirations for her own Prince Charming. Her daddy has taught her what a true gentleman looks like. She will settle for nothing less. For this, I am especially thankful. My husband is the reason my son is already becoming a young man of character, courage, and conviction. For this, I am also exceedingly thankful. For me, my husband has been a steady rock to lean upon during life’s tribulations, a constant Godly example of integrity and strength, and a committed and loving partner in every part of our life together. I am exceedingly blessed. I continue to love him and this life even more as I realize the depth of his unconditional devotion to our family.
As I conclude this reflection, I look down at my phone and notice this email from my sweet husband: “We have reservations for dinner at 5:45 p.m. Look nice!” One day, I suspect I will look at this time in our life together and think again, “And I thought I loved you then.” I am eager to see what type of grandfather my husband will become, and there is absolutely no one I would rather share the front porch and our rocking chairs with in our ripe old age…and, yes, I know in my heart that I will love him even more THEN.
*The song I am referencing is Brad Paisley's "Then."