Ten years, five moves, five surf boards, three surgeries, two kids, two deployments, two dogs, innumerable TDYs, and here we are. Married for ten years.
And only eleven years ago, before an overseas remote tour prompted our sprint down the aisle, Mike and I were just good friends. We’d been high school sweethearts, but we went our separate ways in college and reconnected when we were twenty-two. Occasionally, in the few years that followed, the recesses of my mind would gently push me toward him again, but I’d quickly shove them back; I wanted no part of a military relationship, and certainly not a military marriage. But Mike was… well, irresistible. And patiently persistent. Then one day, when we were about twenty-six, Fate snapped its fingers.
The rest is history.
I don’t know what I was thinking, getting engaged after only a couple of months, getting married seven months after that, moving to Turkey, and embedding myself in the military life. But sometimes the decisions made without turning thoughts over and over again are actually the best ones made.
On our first anniversary, I surprised Mike with a stack of papers that listed 365 reasons why I loved him. I’d spent several hours on a few different occasions, thinking about the qualities I admire in him and the memories we’d shared that made me happy. The process of writing it was fulfilling, deepening my love for him even more. I insisted he read them aloud while we sat together, and that experience itself was even more special, as we laughed, reminisced, teased, and sighed. Mike was genuinely appreciative, and I knew I needed to do this every single year.
And so I did.
For every anniversary since then, I’ve spent time beforehand reflecting on the past year together, writing up a new edition of “365 Reasons Why I Love My Husband.” I recall special moments, contemplate how we’ve pulled through harder times, laugh at silly memories, appreciate unique and good qualities in him and in us, and smile at the romantic times we’ve shared… and overall, I am grateful.
I’m grateful because not only do I become more consciously aware of the extraordinary man I married, but also, in the time I take out to deliberately reflect on him and on us, I come back to center, refocus, and am more convinced than ever that turning on that dime and marrying him as fast as my feet could dash down the aisle was the best decision I have ever made.
The past ten years with Mike and with the Air Force have taken me to countries I’d never have imagined visiting, strengthened my mental and emotional muscles, motivated me to let go of fears and take risks, inspired courage where I didn’t think I had any, established treasured friendships and connections, and enabled me to take on change and transition with optimism and flexibility.
For our tenth anniversary, I wrote “365 Reasons Why I Love My Husband: Part X,” but I also compiled it with the previous nine editions and printed them in a bound book. The book contains 3,650 qualities, experiences, memories, moments, jokes, and reflections that remind us why we are together. Simply seeing them all bound together was an experience filled with love and mutual appreciation. Reading through them – well, at least Part X – filled us even deeper.
I love you, Mike. I love you because you are a part of a sweet, innocent time in my life. I love you because you let me go, and we grew up. I love you because you became one of my best friends. I love you because you stuck with me, even when I said no. I love you because you waited patiently until I discovered what you already knew: there’s no one else for me but you, and there’s no one else for you but me. Thank you for the ten most beautiful years of my life, for giving me two precious children, and for loving me with all your heart.