Like most single women, I loved chick flicks. I loved the idea of love. Falling in love. Romance. Being swept off my feet.
I often imagined what that moment of “falling in love” would be like. It typically involved the crowds parting, our eyes meeting…or maybe it would include long-distance romance, with troves of love letters mailed back and forth, filled with poetry and deep romantic feelings…
Being the youth group girl I was, I figured our God-ordained encounter would likely take place at a youth camp or on a missions trip. He would probably have shaggy brown hair and play the guitar.
I had no idea that the man I would marry had been my friend since I was 12 years old. I remember the first time I saw him – and it was far from romantic. He was a 12 year old boy, remember?
We built a friendship over the years. For a while, we barely knew each other. Then we hung out more often. Then we started to like each other a little bit. He even asked me out after our senior year.
But this wasn’t “the story” I had been dreaming about for so many years. So I turned him down. But we stayed friends.
And I fell for guy after guy…dating more than a few shaggy haired boys who played guitar. Always writing what I thought would be the first chapter of our ‘love story’ in my journal. But before too long, that love story would get tossed out the window. Just another illusion. The elusive “one” must still be out there.
But all along, my future husband was still my friend.
We would date – and then break up. Usually because I would meet some other guy in a fairytale way and think – “This, THIS must be my love story!
But it wasn’t.
In reality, my love story started back at 12 years old when a friendship with my husband began. It didn’t happen with roses, starry nights, long walks on the beach. It didn’t happen with our eyes meeting in a crowded room, and the rest of the world fading into the background. It started with long conversations. Dumb conversations. Trivial experiences. Profound experiences.
Getting to know each other, little by little. Finding out what we liked about each other, little by little. Finding out what we didn’t like about each other, little by little.
Growing fond of each other. Caring about each other. And eventually, yes, eventually, truly loving each other.
When I think about my favorite “chick flicks”, two immediately rise to the top – and they always have. They are Pretty in Pink and My Best Friend’s Wedding.
Why? Because I married my Duckie. I married my Michael.
My favorite line in Pretty in Pink is when Duckie, Andie’s best friend, realizes she has fallen for someone else and Duckie says,
“Well, that’s very nice. I’m glad. Well here’s… here’s the point, Andie. I’m not particularly concerned with whether or not you like me, because I live to like you and… and I cant like you anymore. So… so when you’re feeling real low and… and dirty,and your heart is splattered all over hell, don’t look to me to pump you back up cause… cause… cause maybe for the first time in your life I WONT BE THERE!”
But of course…he was.
And my favorite line in My Best Friend’s Wedding is when Julia Robert’s character finds out that her best friend is engaged to someone else and she says:
“He adored ME for 9 goddamn years. Me! She has known him for what like 5 seconds, plus she’s got billions of dollars plus she’s apparently perfect. So don’t go feeling all sorry for miss pre-teen allure…I have to get him back, George. I cant lose him.”
Why did those lines resonate with me?
Because it took me a while to realize it, but that’s exactly who my husband was to me long before I realized just how much I loved him. He was my Duckie. He was my Michael. He was the one who was always there – loving me, no matter what. Was he terribly “romantic” as Hollywood likes to portray it? Not particularly. But he was always there. Caring for me. Loving me. Being there for me. Even when I deserved it the least.
After almost four years of marriage, 18 years of friendship…I love him more today than ever. Have I ever come home to candlelight and a trail of roses in the house? No. Have I ever had a massive bouquet of flowers delivered to my office or a surprise jewelry box waiting on my pillow? No.
But does he support my dreams? Does he encourage my heart?
Does he rock our children to sleep?
Does he change their messy diapers?
Does he help my parents with projects around their house? Does he look after my little sister?
Does he drop everything when I need him? Does he overlook my shortcomings and forgive my mistakes?
Does he look for ways to serve me? To serve others around him?
The answer is yes. Always yes.
And that is true romance. That is true love.
Because love isn’t always about being swept off your feet. It’s about keeping your feet firmly on the ground, next to each other, no matter how the winds of life may blow. It’s about weathering difficult storms together, sunny days together, and even some incredibly mundane and routine days together.
And loving each other through it all.