Author: Mary Katherine
My freshman year of college had been one helluva party, but it was a disaster in many ways: academically, personally, spiritually. I spent the first semester discovering alcohol and losing little bits of myself. My closest friends expressed concern, but that just pissed me off. So I drifted. And I drifted.
I drifted until my grades came out and my parents snatched my butt home.
1 year later, I had just returned to Birmingham (after living in Thailand and Texas, but that’s another story). Time had changed me, for the better, and I was trying to find a balance between my newly-hatched faith and sorority life. I couldn’t quite figure out how those two things fit together, and UAB wasn’t feeling like the home it once did.
That February night, I was cheering on the UAB Blazers in Bartow Arena; our basketball team was killer. In a green t-shirt and jeans, I ran upstairs to grab a coke.
I stopped short of my destination with a confused look on my face. Standing in front of me was a blue-eyed boy with a big smile. He most certainly knew who I was. Ian reached his arms out for a hug—and being my awkward self, I replied, “Hey! I don’t know who you are, but I’ll hug you anyways!”
Hello, Future Husband. Good to see you.
We didn’t chat long. You know, I wanted to get that coke. I honestly don’t remember much other than both of us being a little embarrassed. Me, because I was unintentionally rude and him because I had no idea who he was.
When I returned to my seat Ian turned to his roommate and said, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry.”
We eventually had a first date, and I invited my sister. She was amazingly awkward as a third wheel, and we all sat together watching The Phantom of the Opera (movie). Ian knew all of the music. He actually knew the WORDS. That’s when I realized that maybe—just maybe—
We went to church together. I decided to appear very serious about Jesus (because that’s attractive, right?) and sat one seat over from him. When he looked at me, understandably baffled, I confidently stated, “I need my worship space.”
So, yah. I was really bad at that whole “dating thing.”
Shortly thereafter, I got a phone call from Ian. It was either the most insane or most courageous thing a man has ever done. He told me simply that he had wished to date me—and only me. He thought that I could be his wife, and he wanted to make sure I understood what his thoughts and intentions were from the beginning.
I will never forget that I was sitting in traffic at 5 points Birmingham. I accidently sat through the next green light, staring blankly ahead with my blinker ticking away. As strangers blared their horns behind me, I was frozen in the moment and wondering, “Is this guy REAL?”
He stole my heart, and it didn’t even take him two weeks.
It was the kind of romance that makes you forget your appetite. Coming from a girl like me, that’s saying a lot. Every emotion, every life experience was amplified by 10,000 when he was there. The most mundane errands felt like adventures when I was in the passenger seat of his beat up green Civic (he called “Flash”). Ian would sing along to the radio, horribly. He wore quirky shoes. He had this weird dance he called “The Shovel” that would occasionally make public appearances. I would be equal parts humiliated and enchanted.
He was also a very good student, which I was—am–not. He invited me to “study with him” sometimes, and I would pack a few books, head over to his apartment, and spend hours watching him intensely reading with a highlighter in hand. Like I said, the mundane things. But in my memories, they are larger than life.
Ian taught me soccer and we broke into golf courses to take long walks in our pajamas. We laid in the grass and stared at the stars and talked about things that people only talk about when they want you to know their soul. Those days were both dangerous and thrilling.
And when he wasn’t around, the days felt empty. I floated through the hours, spending time with friends and feeling a hollow pit in my stomach. I was mostly distracted, and probably very whiny and annoying. I’m not proud of that.
It’s the fun part, people say, when you are falling in love. But I have to disagree.
The thing about falling in love, is there is this passion that is closely linked to uncertainty. The intensity of everything blooms from the underlying possibility that it could all just end without warning. And that just fuels the insanity. It’s hot and cold, unstable and magic. Very romantic, I suppose.
But not to a 7 month-pregnant MK, looking like a whale and waddling like a duck. Not to New Mother MK whose post partem body has betrayed her in ways she didn’t know were possible. Not with overdue bills and student loans and bags of groceries to buy. Hot, cold, and unstable are what brought Ian and I together—but it is our boring, everyday love that sustains us.
This boring love is more beautiful to me than the whirlwind that swept us together. Less like a violent storm and more like a carefully-built house. It’s lived in and comfortable and secure. At the end of an exhausting work week, our love is the place I can come home to in sweatpants and a ponytail. When he grabs my hand, I don’t necessarily get butterflies. But I do get assurance. I don’t get flowers, but he does switch the laundry to the dryer. He leaves me a little milk for my cereal rather than using the last bit. We’ve moved every single year for 7 years straight, house to house, town to town. But it’s wherever my husband is that I feel at home.
You see, we’ve moved past the passion of involuntary love and into the daily decision of voluntary love. Ian has chosen to be at my side, not because he is drawn to me with an electric attraction, but because he has vowed to be there. I’ve gained weight, grown out of fashion, chipped some teeth and gotten gray hairs. That’s reality, and Ian is there.
Don’t get me wrong, we have our moments.
Spontaneous kisses on a storm-struck beach. Slow dances in the kitchen. Random love letters left on the kitchen table. Oh yah, honey. Those all happened this year.
But so did the vomiting and–um, other stuff–from food poisoning, when Ian carefully pulled my hair into a pony tail, rubbing my back while I begged for God to strike me dead. (I get dramatic when I’m sick).
Which of those things do you think makes me feel most secure in our love?
Today I celebrate 8 years of being married to a man who has continuously amazed me.
When I watch him snore after his 10th straight 12 hour shift, with sleep crusting his eyes and breath smelling like a dragon, I feel my heart swell with pride. He has incredibly rare work ethic. That is something that takes time to see in someone.
When he comes home and changes out of his scrubs, hops on his skateboard and rolls off with our golden retrievers in tow, my heart fills with laughter. Someone who is so smart, so professional, and so mature still has the spirit of a kid. It took years to appreciate the resiliency of his child-like soul.
When I watch him paddle out to sea on a surfboard, bobbing in the waves for hours upon hours, I fall in love with the quiet of his heart all over again.
When he loses a patient at work and drives home with the weight of devastation on his heart, I am blown away that can enter our home with a smile and lovingly scoop his son into a snuggle.
When we fell in love, it was dizzy-making. But it’s the rock-solid ground of our boring life that makes me wake up every morning a grateful wife.
My marriage is my home and my home is sacred.