Last month my husband was part of a stealth operation. One of his friends wanted to propose to his longtime girlfriend and asked Nathan to provide the music. He chose a specific song – “Wanted”, by country singer Hunter Hayes. Nathan smirked the first time he heard it. “Seriously? Barf!” were his exact words.
We hung out the night before the proposal, three married couples and the dating one. All of the married couples split up on the couches, leaving one single beanbag chair for the lovebirds. “You guys sit there,” we joked. “You still like each other!”
The next afternoon Nathan covered himself in bug spray and hid in the bushes next to a walking trail. As the couple approached, he started to sing: “You know I’d fall apart without you. I don’t know how you do what you do. ‘Cause everything that don’t make sense about me makes sense when I’m with you …”
She said yes.
* * *
Nathan and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary last week. The proposal reminded me of us at the beginning of our relationship. We were constantly touching, arms around each other, holding hands. I remember one camping trip where friends bet us we couldn’t complete a mountain hike holding hands – and we won!
Life looks different now. After being pulled this way and that by kids all day, with a clingy toddler in my arms, Nathan’s lucky if he gets any greeting when he gets home from work, never mind a hug or a kiss.
Love looks different now too. We don’t have the time or the energy or the money to go on extravagant (or frequent!) dates, so we collapse on the couch after the kids are in bed and my work is done for the day. We hold hands in the grocery store parking lot instead of on mountain trails. We may not snuggle at friends’ houses, but we have more than eight years’ worth of inside jokes and communicate better with each other than with anyone else. Though we still haven’t managed to successfully escape a Breakout room …
Most days aren’t filled with the freshness and passion that mark a new relationship. We’re more comfortable. We’re established in who we are as a couple. We celebrated our first anniversary with a romantic weekend getaway; we celebrated our eighth anniversary with burgers and an hour and a half of uninterrupted Pokemon hunting.
Sometimes, I will admit, I miss the newness. I miss the romance of it all. My husband is certainly more practical than he is romantic – he’s the man who catches our kids’ puke in his hands on airplanes, not the one who painstakingly crafts 1000 origami paper cranes and gifts me his wish.
But I love him more because of the life we’ve created together. He’s the one who proposed on bended knee on a dock while wearing rollerblades, and he’s the one who stops at the store on his way home from work almost every single day because I’m missing one ingredient for the dinner I’ve already started to make.
Our marriage isn’t glamorous. Romantic getaways are few and far between at this stage of life. Instead we sway together, dancing in the kitchen while the sink fills with bubbles and our children try to sandwich themselves between us.
And I wouldn’t give up these everyday moments for all the romance in the world.