If you can get past my pencil-thin eyebrows in this picture,
don't worry, I'll give you a moment
-- (moment) --
then you might see LOVE.
That's what I see when I look at it.
a whole lot of like,
and a pretty damning amount of infatuation.
That's my now husband of almost eleven years and me back around the time we got engaged.
I was twenty-two at the time, and fully intent on marrying this man eight years my senior.
"What are you doing?"
"You're too young for him."
"What is he doing with someone your age?"
"What do you see in him?"
"You're too young to get married."
"Why does he want you?"
"Do you think he's sure?"
"It will never work."
That's all that was, and me, I had on my love-coated goggles and nonsensical, chatter-canceling headphones which drowned out any of the negative glances and commentary aimed at me and mine and our relationship.
My husband, Josh, and I tied the knot (real tight) in July of 2008.
I was fresh out of college and on the cusp of my first semester at Saint Thomas University Law School.
One piece of advice: If you want to ensure you don't complete your juris doctorate studies, get married right before the semester begins.
Newlyweds do not want to spend their time with their nose in boring books, and their nose is most definitely not the body part getting the most action in that first year.
But, to those many who wondered "why?" when they looked at us, and to those that were so utterly sure that us coming together would end in failure, I've got some words for you.
You once asked, "what are they doing?" and I am going to answer that for you now.
We were in love and by "in love," I mean in extreme like.
We were somewhat obsessed with each other, and beyond that, we were exhilarated by one another.
We also drove each other flippin' crazy, but that only made the relationship more thrilling and dynamic.
We were both intrigued by a connection that seemingly afforded each of us what maybe we never knew was missing and were unknowingly longing for.
I had the pleasure of spending my time with someone who had a bit more life experience under his belt, someone who was sure of himself and knew what he wanted to get out of life.
To a self-conscious, anxiety-ridden, attention-seeking twenty-something-year-old, this was what I never knew I needed, or wanted -- someone to teach me about loving me for me and taking life as it comes while throwing my hands up and laughing for the ride.
You may wonder, though, what it was about me that piqued his interest.
I can sure tell you that it wasn't my brain.
My handmade-from-a-pair-of-jeans extremely short skirt was not giving him a peek at my mind and not that he would be able to find that beautiful brain of mine under my long blonde hair extensions anyway.
No, what drew my now husband to me back in 2006 was my kind heart and my slightly innocent and optimistic view of people and the world.
At least that's what he tells me.
To someone who has experienced more of life and life's less than pleasurable moments, spending time with another who sees life through a different, more favorable lens can be motivating and inspiring.
So what were together doing back in 2006 until the time we got married two years later?
We were connecting.
We were using one another to meet the needs and wants we never knew were lacking.
We were teaching each other and impressing one another.
WE WERE MAKING MISTAKES, BUT WE WERE LEARNING.
And guess what?
WE STILL ARE.
I've shared that my husband and I, personality-wise, are very different.
And, although we both embrace and pretty much enjoy that fact, after ten LONG years and three children, it can make for relationship maintenance a challenge.
I am the type-A of the house — impatient, aggressive, controlling, competitive, and a rule follower.
He is relaxed, creative, reflective, has the uncanny ability to feel practically no stress ever, and often enjoys breaking the rules; basically, way to "chill" for my comfort level.
As you can imagine, this leads to many menial (and some more significant) scuffles, but it also leads to a whole heck of a lot of fun and us pushing each other to be better people -- as individuals, spouses, and parents.
My husband's actual life experience and my young, experience-seeking personality have afforded us the understanding that everything worth anything is most definitely worth the tiresome effort you must put in, both early on and in the later years which follow.
So, what are we doing now?
We are having fun.
We are building a family and working to sustain a relationship that benefits us both.
But, I'm too young for him, right?
Maybe, but at least I never have to worry about him leaving me for a spring chicken.
What is he doing with me?
He's having adventures.
What do I see in him?
So very much. I see a man who is handsome, selfless, caring, hardworking, loving, giving, funny, and "my rock."
But you were too young to get married.
I probably was, but look how well that has turned out for me.
He said "just because" and that is more than enough for him, so it is for me, as well.
Are you sure?
We are both sure that this is a love we want for all eternity -- that is, until he gets old and super gray which will happen way before me and at that point, I may question things.
Or, perhaps I won't.
It will never work.
Oh, but it has.