11 years. That is (almost) how long ago I got married. I was a young 21 years old and for years I’d been excited about someday being married to my ‘soul mate’, the ‘man of my dreams’, the man who would ‘complete me’.
I should start by saying that I had some high expectations that started to develop around the age of 16. My husband had to be taller than me, blonde hair, blue eyes, NO body hair, clean shaven, fit (but not to where I could see a 6 pack – that’s too much pressure), and of course he needed to love the Lord. Personality? At 16, obviously looks meant a whole lot more to me. And if I was honest with myself, the ‘loving the Lord’ part was what I was “supposed” to say at that point in my life – I’m not sure I would have ACTUALLY considered that a deal breaker (I’d never admit that though).
By 18, I had had a few boyfriends and realized maybe ‘looks’ were not the best way to choose a lifelong mate. So, my husband had to be attractive (I mean I had to like looking at him), NO body hair, taller than me, fun to be around (yes – this is when I realized being friends before jumping into a relationship was probably a good idea), love the Lord (at this point I actually meant it), and somebody who made me feel comfortable in ‘us’ (like ‘us’ was a priority). Those were the attributes I’d admit to. Deep down there were all these crazy expectations I didn’t even know I had. I had built the ‘perfect’ man in mind, we’d never fight, he’d always see things my way, he’d take care of my every need (I probably meant ‘want’ and not ‘need’), he’d always give me his undivided attention, our philosophies on parenting and marriage would be exactly the same, and so on. THAT was my dream man.
Then I met Justin. He was not THAT dream man. Sure, he met my superficial qualifications, but he wasn’t the man of my dreams. Then I started to fall for the guy. I didn’t want to fall for the guy. I was just out of a crazy un-healthy relationship (and so was he), he wasn’t what I had been ‘praying for’, he just wasn’t THE guy, the dream guy.
But who am I kidding!? He had that smile (and dimples) that made me feel all giggly. He made me laugh like nobody ever had. He went out of his way to make me feel appreciated. He took on all that early baggage that came with my mess of a life and made me feel safe. I fell in love with this man – and he wasn’t the man of my dreams.
I image that the many times in prayer, asking God for the ‘man of my dreams’, God must have found my prayers rather ridiculous and shallow. I image a smirk on his face like only a parent can give. The ‘you think you know what you want but you are SO wrong’ smirk. A pat on the head and a ‘there there my poor naïve child’. Instead, all those years he was preparing Justin and me for the day we would choose each other.
So, did I marry the man of my dreams? By God’s amazing grace HECK NO! I married the man I didn’t even know I needed. I married the man who pushes me to better, even when I don’t like it. I married the man who questions me when I know I’m right (I’m totally not) and makes me actually think through my decisions and opinions. I married the man who comforts me when I’m falling apart. I married a man who is as determined as me to make this marriage work despite the crap we do to each other along the way. I married the man who is so much better than anything my naïve 18 year old self could ever have imagined. Marriage is NOT easy, it’s a whole lot more work than I ever thought it could be, but I’m grateful that Justin is the one I’m in it with.