Today does not mark the third anniversary of the beginning of my relationship with Brent. That doesn’t come until the end of this month. But I was thinking about our relationship last night and got excited about the prospect of writing about it, and I’m not very good at waiting on such things. So, I’m posting it now instead of on January 31st.
I’ve been told (by Brent in particular) that once you’re married, there’s no need to mark the occasion of your first date or the first time you realized that you wanted to be ‘more than friends.’ But because we got engaged less than eight months after we started dating, I feel a little cheated out of these intermediary celebrations, so I want to do something anyway.
Brent and I met in December of 2005. We were both dating other people at the time, but we became fast friends. We shopped for holiday presents together, emailed regularly, met for coffee, and saw movies. One night, he had me over to his house for dinner – he made veggie stir fry with peanut sauce and a big salad (my mom once told me that she knew my dad was a keeper when she discovered that he had fresh vegetables in his fridge, but I wasn’t thinking about it at the time). We had planned to head to a movie after that, but I had spent the day at a conference and was exhausted, so I ended up going home early. He told me later that he was pretty sure after that night that I wasn’t interested in being his friend anymore. So he was surprised when I called him a week later to invite him to see Walk the Line.
Independently of each other, we stopped seeing our respective significant others.
Gradually over those six weeks, I began to notice myself thinking about him a little bit more. At the end of January, we went out for a night of dancing. As I watched him during those few hours, I realized that I’d developed more than a crush on my new friend. I had legitimate feelings for him. And I had a hunch that he felt the same (particularly after he told me several times on the drive home that he was no good at initiating things with girls).
So, I decided to do something about it.
Acting on a New Years resolution to be more assertive, I sent Brent an email on the morning of January 31. His students had been trying to set him up with the new crew coach at school – a cute 20-something who wore just as much corduroy as he did – and he had been filling me in on their efforts. Responding to an email he sent about what to tell his students when they asked about her again, I wrote:
“You could tell them that you met this girl over the holidays, that you hit it off and became fast friends, but nothing more because you were dating Kristen and she was enmeshed in a pseudo-relationship with an old friend and trying to sort that out. You could say that you spent the last month learning about each other (perhaps dangerously, mostly over email, though you’d spent some time together as well, making dinner, watching movies, drinking coffee…). And that all of a sudden, in the past couple weeks, you’ve gone from that feeling of “oh, nice, a new email from ___________” to “hmm… I wonder if ____________ has responded yet to that email that I sent half an hour ago.” You could say that you had no intention of falling for this person, but despite your best efforts, you’ve begun to, and you’d like to see where it could lead.
Or you could tell them that you’re not so interested in the new girl – I’m sure that they could take it – but that you could never date the crew coach because you don’t like corduroy on women.”
An hour later, Brent began what amounted to a series of four enthusiastic emails (I won’t post any of those for fear of embarrassing him). We met for tea three nights later at a local bookstore, to see what it would be like to be ‘more than friends.’ The night before I had pulled my first (and only) all-nighter of law school, so I was only marginally conscious. Brent, too, was not at the top of his game, having been sick for several days with what he would later learn were the effects of a moldy house. Needless to say, it was not the most exciting of evenings.
The following night, I went over to said moldy house for “date” #2. We watched a movie – nothing special – and when I left three hours later, the overly-analytical, rational-to-a-fault me sent a text message to a friend that read, “Sar, I’m going to marry this kid.”
That was Saturday. On Wednesday, Brent asked me how long he should wait to propose.
In that same original email I sent him, I made three lists: (1) Why I think you’re great; (2) My reservations; and (3) Why I’m telling you this. (See, I told you I was overly analytical…)
Over the past several months, I’ve often found myself pausing during the day to reflect on how charmed my life has been. Some of this concerns my relationship with Brent, and some relates to other things entirely. But I’m acutely aware of how lucky I am. And I’m grateful for that, grateful both for the people in my life and the experiences that I’ve had, and grateful that I have the time and opportunity to reflect on them.
So, nearly three years after I wrote that original list, I feel compelled to make a second one, of the things about my husband and our relationship for which I am grateful.
1. I’m grateful that we encourage and motivate and support each other, without feeling like we have to compete with each other.
2. I’m grateful for the hours we’ve spent hiking, biking, running, and snow-shoeing through the woods together, sometimes literally tethered to each other at the waist.
3. I’m grateful that we thank each other for the little things, like doing the dishes or putting the laundry in the dryer or taking the trash out to the curb.
4. I’m grateful to have found my best friend, something that I’d hoped for but did not necessarily expect in a partner (having been fortunate enough to have formed an amazing community of friends before and since I met Brent).
5. I’m grateful that he pushes me beyond my comfort zone, that he teaches me without making me feel as though I need to be taught. And I hope I do the same for him.
6. I’m grateful that he spends more time analyzing movies than I do.
7. I’m grateful that he climbs trees to pick apples for me.
8. I’m grateful that he watches romantic comedies with me (and sometimes even likes them!).
9. Even if we’re not formally celebrating this anniversary, I’m grateful to have anniversaries to celebrate together.