Christy and I have known Jon and Cindy for more than a decade. Cindy was at the airport when we brought Mihret home. She took some pretty amazing pictures. They have a similar heart for orphans and adoption. Oh – and they happen to have just started another amazing adoption journey. You really should check out 2000 Tutus, which is their fundraising effort. Who knows? Maybe you’ll buy a tutu
See what I did there? 😉
Cindy wrote a great post about romance. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You might laugh some more. Enjoy. I know I did. Thank you, Jon and Cindy for sharing your story.
My husband and I started dating just before Valentine’s Day. Twenty-eight years ago. Wow. That sure sounds like a long time ago, eh? Before you categorize us as those old folks who are about to impart marital wisdom, though, don’t. First of all, we aren’t that old. Just so you know, we ancient ones have a one-year-old daughter waiting for us on the other side of the world. Secondly, while we’ve learned a thing or two about marriage and relationships, either of us will be the first to tell you that we’ve probably got a thing or two left to figure out.
So back to that first Valentine’s Day. It was our first “official” date. It was wildly romantic. It included flowers and candy, my favorite Mexican food and the company of a handsome young man who seemed pretty taken with me, as well. It was perfectly perfect. It was the beginning of the two of us spending every opportunity together. Within weeks we were talking about our future. Within months we were shopping for rings. And on the following New Year’s Day, he asked me to marry him. On a beautiful fall afternoon in 1988, we sealed the deal. Husband and wife. Till death do us part. No take backs. We were so ridiculously giddy.
What is the most romantic gift I’ve ever received? I could never answer that in a sentence. I could never qualify one thing as the most romantic. How could I pick? That’s akin to choosing the most significant moment in my life. ONE?? No way. For the same reason, I resist personality tests. I prefer questions that have only one answer. The ones where it’s based on interpretation?
Kill me now.
I can tell you we’ve lived a lot of life in the past 28 years. Army life, wartime deployment, infertility, cross-country moves, childbirth, unemployment, loss of parents, international adoption. These are just the biggies. Each of these is a chapter of its own. And, as in any good story, the chapters are interwoven, with one pivotal moment evolving into the next. In between are the everyday moments that fill you with such emotion that a chapter wouldn’t contain your thoughts. And then you find yourselves nearly three decades down the road. There was definitely romance at the start. So where’s the romance now? Wait. Refresh my memory. What is romance? I’ll admit it. I looked it up. On a side note, back in the day, that would have meant touching an actual book. We are that old. Blessedly, the internet is at my fingertips because I probably couldn’t even find that book in a reasonable amount of time. Anyway, if we’re talking the textbook definition of mystery and excitement associated with love, then, as the cliché goes, how do you keep the romance alive over the course of a lifetime? In that regard, I can say that romance has managed to maintain its presence in our relationship in the company of one or all of these things: commitment, forgiveness, a healthy sense of humor and a willingness to take a leap of faith here and there. And anything that falls into any of those categories qualifies as the most romantic gift ever.
Let me explain. That mystery and excitement? It definitely ebbs and flows. It’s easy to earmark the big ones. Flowers on holidays. Dinners out. Breakfast in bed. Sweet gifts. It’s definitely flowing on those days. But those other things take work and a daily effort to keep on keeping on. And those other things help you to claim that romance on the days when it’s ebbing a bit. Like that first week of married life where we thought it sounded romantic and adventurous to drive through the night to Fort Lauderdale. Round about 2 am, we discovered we were not drive-through-the-nighters. Reality washed over romance in an ebbing sort of way. Or the first Valentine’s Day after we were married. Remember, the bar had been set high, so I had pretty hefty expectations. My sweet budget-conscious young husband came home with a little bundle of grocery store flowers accompanied by a frozen pizza with a coupon on the box for free tickets to the latest John Candy movie, “Who’s Harry Crumb?” Um, we’re ebbing here. Or the year he brought me a new blow dryer because I’d mentioned I needed one. Thoughtful, but ebbs-ville, dude. Or the year we were too sick to even consider a romantic dinner out, let alone breathe through our noses, and curled up on the sofa with our fellow runny-nosed little ones. Blew right past ebbing on that one.
But I can just as easily name the times the romance flowed that weren’t accompanied by a gift or romantic gesture. The day we were baptized together, incidentally on Valentine’s Day of the year we were married. The time he stuffed a tiny black puppy under his coat with an air of permanence and headed to the register to pay for her. The card he wrote to me on our tenth anniversary, listing a significant life event for every year. The willingness to go with me to a concert he knew nothing about just to make me happy. The way he didn’t run the other way when I told him I heard God speak to me.
Out loud, people.
The obedience to pray about my crazy idea. The tears in my husband’s eyes the night I knew he was in it with me. The night of our 25th anniversary in a hotel room in Florida…on the one “only us” vacation we’ve taken since becoming parents…he made sure we took the time to complete and submit our adoption application for our second adoption and our fifth child. Mystery and excitement associated with love? You bet.
I think the frozen pizza story may be my favorite marital anecdote. I was so annoyed at his seeming lack of romance at the time. Now it just seems silly. There have been plenty of days since I would have knocked someone over for a frozen pizza and free tickets to any movie, let alone flowers on top of it. More than his sense of romance, it showed a lack of my own. Being married is hard work. As much as we love each other, some days, I dare to say it’s hard to like each other. But it’s still for keeps. No take backs. This is where the commitment, the forgiveness, the humor and the faith come in. Those things filter out our imperfect human ways and leave the one gift that’s always perfect, love. Now that’s romantic.
p.s. If you’re wondering how we’re celebrating this year? We’re grabbing Qdoba take-out, lighting the fireplace and curling up in our pajamas with a couple of our kids to watch a movie. And we’re using a coupon.