It’s no wonder that many new (and old) couples become disillusioned when it comes to romantic love. We are raised on Disneyland images of Cinderella and stories of knights rescuing their fair maidens. It is easy to romanticize marriage and secretly expect a perfect journey of never-ending bliss! How enticing it is to believe that all will be easy and perfect once we say, “I do!” Yet, the illusion of living “Happily Ever After” is just that—an illusion. In fact, no marriage—even the best of the best—is ever completely free of worry, cares, or change. Just like other areas of life, marriage is naturally filled with times of joy, sorrow, stagnation, growth, difficulties, and delight. In accepting this truth, the journey becomes one of increasing awareness and ever-growing wisdom. And so, as I wrap up the adventurous tale of my first year of married life, I invite you to smile, laugh, and find the magic in the quirks, hiccups, and triumphs of your own marriage.
This morning I found myself staring, once again, into the sweetest set of brown eyes I’ve ever known. As he sipped his black coffee, I noticed that the hooded orb of his right eye seemed slightly smaller than the left. Although others probably wouldn’t notice it, this little droop tells me my sweetheart is extra weary; he didn’t sleep well. Such little oddities are endearing and important to me, for they help me know and understand my husband more deeply.
In learning to read his face, I have discovered a wealth of information. When my hubby is disconcerted, his eyes turn a paler, driftwood shade of brown. When he’s striving to be patient, his twitching right jaw muscle is a giveaway. One of my favorites, his “jumping eyebrows,” signals supreme excitement. Those same eyebrows, when mildly furrowed, indicate concentration and thoughtfulness. Transformed into a deeper, straight set, that very brow portends a dose of anger. All of these little bits and pieces—and so much more—have become part of my natural awareness. What a gift it is to learn one’s partner from the outside in and the inside out.
As we lingered over dinner on the evening of our first anniversary, I asked my sweetheart to share three things he’s learned about me in the 12 months of our marriage. Sitting in the sushi restaurant where we had our first official date, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration. Then, as he began to recount the details of his internal foray, those eyebrows began their beloved dance. I listened intently—not just to the words, but to his tone and inflections. I listened with my ears, my brain, and my heart. I have learned so much about him and so much about myself by seeing me through his eyes. Indeed, through my husband, I have learned so very much about the essence of life and love. In turn, I began to recount the bits and pieces I’ve learned about him in during the course of our newlywed year.
My three thoughts turned into four, five, and then 20. Offering an array of delightful discoveries that included observations of quirky habits and learning experiences, I chattered away. Laughing in wonderment, my sweetheart begged me to stop. I did, for a moment, and then began again.
It’s difficult for me not to share the depth of my love and learning of my beloved, for the exploration and discovery are fascinating and eternal. Just when I think I understand or know one aspect of him, another shift occurs somewhere. I learn more. I see more. I find more to love. And that, in essence, is why I am lovingly devoted to my husband more now than ever. He is precious. He is fascinating. He is quirky. He is changeable. He is a work of art. We are best friends. We are teachers. We are partners. We are much the same, and we are quite a bit different. We learn from each other. We challenge each other. We want each other to grow.