I married a kind man and other musings on a 20 year relationship

As I mentioned in my “Love Story” Facebook posts a few months back, Ritchie and I went on our first date Valentines Day 1997 which means that we’ve spent the last 20 years cultivating our relationship.   As I look back and reflect on how those two sweet teenagers made their way from that first spark of giddy infatuation to more steady and enduring love, I am reminded of how small consistent decisions have far-reaching consequences.  Here are a few decisions we make that I am so very grateful for…

-Greet with a hug and a kiss.  I watched my parents do this and so it seemed natural to welcome Ritchie home at the end of the day with this small ritual.  When it was just the two of us I would stop whatever I was doing when he got home and meet him at the door.  Now I am usually outpaced by Jessica and Cassie but almost everyday we all express our gratitude for Daddy’s arrival home.

-Fight fair.  Early when we were married I drove Ritchie nuts as I played both referee and combatant in our verbal tiffs.  With my Family Science degree I was armed with communication recommendations (many of which I am still working at :)) and I would stop us in the middle of an argument to insist that we not use words like “always” or “never” or to patiently request a specific example when I felt I was unjustly accused of something. 20 years later that looks like clear and calm communication most of the time.

-Commit to creating something unique.  The relationship we have is unlike any other we have had or ever will have and it is different from any other marriage we know about.  As long as we both keep choosing to make it a priority it will grow and deepen.  We each bring our own gifts and in this shared space of our relationship we seek ways to let those gifts flourish as we develop as individuals, as a couple and now as a family.  As two different individuals seeking to grow, learn and make it through life we sometimes stumble and we each have a birds eye view of the others shortcomings.  In those moments we have the opportunity to extend patience, understanding and love and to witness the distinct beauty that comes from intimate kindness.

-Smile at each other.  As often as we can.  In the unexpected moments, the ones those two teens never could have dreamed of, from the hours of anxious anticipation in IVF clinics to the breathtaking views from mountain jungles sometimes there aren’t words to convey the emotion or the gratitude we’re feeling.  In those moments, with a simple smile I’m saying thank you for the gift of your loyal and incredible soul at my side along this path of life.  I think Ritchie’s smile is saying the same thing that gangly and goofy 17 year old said “Wow.”

Happy Valentines Day.

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