Monday, May 18, 2015

20 years together...19 of them married.

     I was 24 , he was 22 and we really were still just babies. I wasn't looking for him when he found me. I was frustrated with men, actually boys pretending to be men. Up until him I had been through some heartbreak and some amusement when it came to dating.
* There was the guy I started dating while in high school . We were together for 5 years. That is longer than some people stay married. He was my first love and he cheated on me.
* There was the guy who thought he was much better looking than he actually was. He was a terrible kisser and an ego maniac. He had plenty of money but sure didn't share it by tipping the waitress of a very nice restaurant one night .
* There was the guy who was more humble and very likeable. He wasn't a bad kisser but started talking marriage and kids after the 3rd date.
* There was the guy who I crushed on for awhile and then had a brief relationship with until I found out all of it was to make his ex jealous.
* There was the creepy guy who came into my place of work with his mom 3 or more times a week and stalked the department I worked in and left weird notes and gifts on my car. ( Shudder)
* There was the guy who was my age but had more health problems than a 50 year old man.
* There was the clearly troubled psychopath.
* There was the guy who was quiet, sweet, and not bad looking but upon going out with him informed me that I was the first woman he had ever asked out and then I became the first woman he had ever kissed. I just didn't have the patience.
     In walks Eric. I was working in the accounting office at the local Walmart. He worked for Loss Prevention and caught the shoplifters. I had admired his butt in a pair of jeans and he was stupid polite and respectful every time he knocked on my office door to cash in a travel voucher. It was a Saturday and I was working the 8-5 shift. The printer in the back office was down so all daily reports were re-routed to my office. By lunch , 4 hours of continuous printing noise had almost drove me to my breaking point. All I wanted to do was escape the store altogether and have lunch somewhere in town.
     I drove to the ATM and my ATM card wouldn't work ( before you could use those things as debit cards). I had $2 and some change on me so in defeat I drove back to the store and went to the snack bar to see what I could get for less than $3. The snack bar on a Saturday could be standing room only so by the time I stood in line and purchased a drink , there were no seats where I could sit by myself left. Eric was sitting at a small side booth with a 16 oz Mountain Dew and a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts . He invited me to sit down and shared his doughnuts with me. I didn't realize at the time how big of a deal him sharing that box of doughnuts really was.
     When I clocked back in and ventured back to my office, he was sitting outside of it doing some paperwork. I unlocked and opened my door and if memory serves me correctly, let out a string of words that I would never say out loud today. The printer , left unattended for an hour, had strewn a mile long ribbon of reports from the printer to the other side of the office. Eric sat in the floor with me for the next 15 minutes and patiently helped me stack the mess back into order. At some point he says" I know somebody who wants to ask you out but he is intimidated by you and afraid to.' Some may not understand how little bitty ole me could possibly be intimidating but let's just say that I wasn't quite as nice and gentle back then as I am now.  As I pulled myself into a standing position again, I put my hands on my hips and replied " Just go ahead and tell me who it is. I will tell you if I would say yes or not. That way if the answer would be no, you can tell him not to bother.'. He smiled and then said, " If I asked you out someday would you say yes?" My reply was , "Maybe." What he said and did next sealed the deal. He said, " Then maybe someday I will." and he turned and walked out.
     Obviously he got over his illogical fear of me and asked me out and obviously I said yes. The first kiss curled my toes . His kiss still does that to me. He made me laugh even before our first date. He still makes me laugh every day. Even before he said "I love you" for the first time, I knew this was the man that I wanted to spend forever with. He still utters those three words to me about 100 times a day and it never grows old. Oh, and his butt still looks good in a pair of jeans.
     Today marks 19 years that we stood in front of a church filled with family and friends and said " I do." I still do. A lot happens in 19 years. Things like 2 babies, 3 moves, countless job and vehicle changes, the death of both of his parents, a 14 month deployment...the list goes on and on. Neither one of us are the same people who said those vows that day. I like to think we are different but better. A stupid amount of growing up takes place in 19 years and we have both done our share of that.
     Eric is the hardest working man I know. He awakes a little after 5 every morning and begins his work day by 6 am. He is not a desk job kinda man. He prefers physical labor, you know, sweating and getting dirty. There are days that he does not get home til 6pm. Even after a 12 hour work day, he is busy doing something most evenings until almost bedtime. He has always worked as much as necessary to make sure we had what we needed and supported my decision to be a stay at home mom for the last 14 years no matter how much the cost, and at times it was great.
     Eric is kind. He is generous. He is an incredible father. He is crazy talented. He is blow your mind smart. He is all of that and a bag of chips. He is not perfect though. Mistakes have been made and stupidity has taken over several times in the course of our marriage. I am not saying that I am perfect and that I haven't been stupid a couple of times. I'm just saying that if it was a contest he would win that one. Fortunately for him , he has a sense of humor that makes it hard for me to stay mad at him . Also fortunately for him , God has blessed me with an incredible gift of forgiveness. Together, we have weathered some storms that would have ended some relationships, but for us, have brought us closer together and created a stronger, better marriage. We disagree from time to time but we rarely have what I consider fights. I honestly can only remember 3 in our 19 years together and I only consider them fights because I yelled. I often wonder how many couples have that kind of track record.
     Nineteen years. Some days it seems like just yesterday and some days it seems like 100 years ago. I know it sounds corny, but I honestly believe that he was God sent. I fiercely believe that God created him for me and me for him. We certainly haven't had a fairy tale marriage but I do believe in happily ever after. I do believe in marriages that end only when death parts them. I do believe in sickness and in health, in better or worse, and in rich or poor. I believe in our marriage . Our love has weathered nineteen years of marriage. Some days , as I look around me, I realize what an accomplishment that really is. I don't know what God has in store for us but I , for one, am ready for nineteen more.