|This is actually seconds after we met. |
A friend caught the moment on camera.
We discovered this pictures years later.
I turned around and there he was. A guy. In a tux. A sweet smile. Obviously a groomsman filled with liquid courage hours after the reception ended.
“You are so beautiful. What’s your name?” He said.
And there it began….
Hours later I was still up talking to him. We were holding hands. Touching. The Sun was up. It was a new day. My head was spinning. I was giddy and excited yet confused and overwhelmed by the connection I was making with this man, so quickly. So intensely. I looked at him.
“What are you trying to do to me?” I asked.
“I’m trying to get you to fall in love with me”, he replied.
And he did. The next 3 years are a blur of pure joy. Me moving to
where he lived only a month later, leaving everything behind for him. The next year- an engagement, the next- a
wedding. The following- a
pregnancy. The next-a baby. The year after that- another pregnancy. The following- our second baby. On and on.
A whirlwind of love and life changing moments.
The man, Brian- is my Happily Ever After!
Eleven years after our meeting, he’s still My Happily Ever After. Our “love at first sight” meeting is an incredible story- one worthy of a novel. Filled with love and desire and romance and drama and heartbreak. We recall it often and LOVE to tell the story to others together…both telling our parts. Both re-energized by the incredible journey and the beautiful outcome.
During those first few years of our courtship and marriage, many of our friends were not married, many not even with significant others. Some would say, “I want a Brian and Katie moment!” or “I want what you have.” While Brian and I were both so humbled that others wanted a love as deep and devoted as ours, it also was a burden at times.
Many days our relationship is perfect. In the sense that it’s just what most hope for. Lots of love and attention, tons of communication, honestly, loyalty, romance, fun, etc. But having our “perfect” relationship under a microscope was hard. Trying to communicate to a friend that Brian and I had a fight and the response being, “NO! Not you and Brian.” Was difficult.
It’s hard to live up to every one else’s expectations all the time. The only expectations for our relationship should be by us and when those are working; all is right with the world.
Our expectations of each other are basically 4 things:
- Commitment to each other. Giving up or giving in is not an option. EVER. Both of us agreeing to that up front makes a big difference.
- Communication with each other. Be honest and say what is bothering you. Find a way to get your point across and be heard.
- Compassion for each other. LOVE each other. That’s the most important thing. There are hard things to hear when your partner is upset with you. Love them first. Love them anyway. Know that the words are coming from a place of love and a great desire to be understood.
- Compromise. We both can’t always have our way. When we both disagree on something. Find a way to get to common ground.
These four C’s were so important to us and are still the foundations of our marriage, we had them tattooed on us when we were engaged (we added the children’s names as they arrives)
Sometimes however, those expectations don’t work out….
We aren’t perfect! And neither is our relationship. We bicker. We fight. We hold frustration and emotions in and then explode when they become too much.
My husband has issues with being self-righteous and often times thinks he’s right.
I fight dirty and like to bring up old issues or point out his faults, even if they have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I am runner. When things get tough, I have a great desire to flee, just to run away from my problems and not fight for them. Put our two issues together and sometimes it’s a recipe for disaster.
Two falls ago I was diagnosed with skin cancer that has spread to the tissue in my chest ( read about it here). Over 2 months, our world became new vocabulary like clean margins and surgery and Hope. It was the hardest time of my life. Probably Brian’s too. I pulled everyone around me closer, except Brian. This man, my “Happily Ever After”, was doing everything for me and trying so hard to connect but all I did was push away. It was kind of like I knew he would love me no matter what so I didn’t need to put any effort there. And I didn’t. I worked on me. I worked on my relationship with friends and outsiders, my kids. But not my relationship with my best friend.
We suffered. It was a dark time filled with more fights. More tears. More running. More More More. There were days I didn’t know how we would survive. Days I wondered if we’d ever be the same.
Marriage is Hard! Really hard! Even if you have the blessing of having a knight in shining armor sweep you off your feet as I did, it can’t and won’t always be sunshine and rainbows. No matter how deep of a love you have with your life partner, LIFE gets in the way. LIFE affects you!
Our family has had medical issues. My parents need more support than ever before because of their deteriorating health, Brian mom has advanced stage diabetes. His grandparents are nearing the end of life and need so much extra support. Those outside stressors affect your relationships. In our little family of 4, we have struggled with intestinal issues, reconstructive surgeries, an auto immune condition, a liver disease that took months to diagnose, cancer, chronic foot conditions, surgeries, and more. If you or your family has ever been faced with health issues, you know it affects you differently. This is your life. This is your livelihood and your quality of life. It can be all consuming. At times, the “it” has consumed us.
But in those darkest days when you truly wonder how your family can face one more challenge, your marriage one more crisis- you see the light. You feel the Hope. For Brian and me, we remember “US”! “US” Is worth fighting for.
When my brother finally met Brian, months after I moved to NC to be with him, he pulled me aside and asked why I loved him. Why he was different. What had changed?
“He loves me for who I am, not who he wants me to be.” I said.
The same for him. I love HIM. All of him. Even when he smells and is self-righteous and crabby and I’d rather slap him than sleep with him. He’s mine. And instead of fighting for my cause to be right or to prove something to someone, I fight for US!
I can look in the mirror at my tattoo, now adorned with my beautiful children’s names and see everything, right there. My love. My family. Me….
My Commitment to never leave this relationship. The reminder to not shut down and run away but to Communicate with the man I love. To love him- all of him, all the time with Compassion. To give. To take. To find a place in the middle and Compromise in order to make everything right again in the world.
Brian and I are US again. No worries about that. Here’s the thing….The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Its greener where you fertilize it! When we both, mostly me, began looking past the noses on our faces to see the bigger picture and started making our love and our relationship the priority again- things got better. I began pulling Brian in instead of pushing him away. When we work on us, WE get to feel the benefits again and in turn, our family gets a much happier US/
My marriage isn’t perfect. But it’s perfectly designed for me. For Brian and me. I thank God each day for bringing Brian into my life- I know he played a part too….the timing was all too perfect for him not to be.
I have tried to imagine what would have happened if Brian hadn’t had the courage to talk to me that night. Or if I hadn’t have turned around and smiled and told him my name. For those who know the story well, my life would have turned out so differently. The day after this wedding, he told his aunt and uncle, “I just met the woman I’m going to marry!”
How did he know? Who knows? Who cares? Was it fate? Was it magic? God working through us? Perhaps.
All I do know is I am blessed. I have the honor and privilege of spending the rest of my life with Brian. He loves me on my worst days (and there are many of these) and on my best. He’s my best friend. I will love him with all that I am and all that I have- unconditionally in our perfectly imperfect world!