I remember having a conversation with a few friends when I was about 20 or so. One had recently broken up with her high school boyfriend, and opined that men just weren’t interested in smart girls – they preferred dumb girls they could control. I looked at her with a naïve look of astonishment at the time. It seemed inconceivable that anyone would actually want to marry an unequal. After all, when Mr. Bennett opined that, “He may prefer a stupid wife, as others had done before,” his own marriage served as the best possible argument against such a preference. In any event, I said then, and still believe that a man should seek to marry up: good conversation is more likely to get you through 60 or more years of marriage than makeup and plastic surgery.
I’d like to say I stuck with my high ideals despite every temptation, but that would be false. My short stature and nerdy looks insured that I would have little need to fight off legions of beautiful, subservient females.
I met Amanda when I was in law school. I met her father, an attorney himself, through mutual friends, and was able to get some freelance work. I was smitten from the first, but didn’t ask her out until over a year later when I was near the end of my last year of school.
We both knew we were getting married, maybe even before we officially started dating. Neither of us believed in love at first sight. I really can’t explain it even today.
Ten years ago today, Amanda and I stood up in front of our families and friends and promised to love, honor and cherish. We had a simple wedding which came together due more to the incredible efforts of both our parents and a few other hard working individuals than to anything we did. Amanda and I didn’t really care much for the wedding planning thing, and probably would have eloped had anyone offered us a few bucks. In the end, though, we both enjoyed being with those we loved and who loved us and sharing that day. I really wouldn’t change a thing.
Ten years. It really does seem both so long ago and like it just happened. Ten years has meant five children, a move to a larger house, more sensible vehicles, a few extra pounds and some gray hairs for me. What else has filled these years? How many nights have we stayed up late talking just for fun? How many times have I put my hands around her waist as she attempted to get some task done? How many times have we dodged each other in kitchen trying to cook multiple dishes at once? How many times have we given each other a meaningful look after a child has melted into impossibility?
I have never needed anyone like this. I am eager to come home and take her in my arms. When she is there, I feel the stress of the day melt away. Do we argue? With two strong personalities such as we are, would it be possible to avoid all conflict? Would it even be desirable? But more than ever, we are partners. More than anyone who knew us expected, we found that we worked well together. I cannot think of anyone I would rather have on my team. This is something I think has been lost by many of my generation. Marriage is not a competition – for power, control, attention, love, or whatever. As the sports analogy goes, statistics don’t win championships. I always know she has my back.
Obviously, intelligence isn’t everything. Someone who knows everything and knows they know it is a bit of a drag to have at one’s party. A wife who is smart, but kind and devoted is rare. A wife who is willing to share the kitchen without feeling the need to compete, who looks for ways to make her husband’s life easier, who appreciates that actions speak loudest, is almost unknown. I love that Amanda won’t humor me when she knows I’m wrong, but she doesn’t need to embarrass me to make her point. She can watch me fuss and fume on occasion without taking it personally. She knows I will never make her a rich man’s wife, but she is satisfied with my hard work and presence at home. She’s not trying to form me into her ideal man, but she encourages me to be my best. She knows me for who I am, and loves me for that.
For some reason, she remains firmly attached to the man she loved enough to marry on that day ten years ago. I don’t know what the next ten or fifty years will bring, but should life last, I know who I want to have by my side.
Picture by Carol Bracy
Additional links: My thoughts on my last anniversary. My post last Valentine’s Day.