14 Years

On June 28, 1998, my wife and I shared personal wedding vows and said, “I do.”

We were in the backyard of Jami’s grandparents’ house in Pueblo, Colorado. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon with a clear blue sky.

We had planned to take Communion for the first time as a married couple after the marriage was finalized and the vows were declared. The pastor we asked to officiate the wedding was not comfortable with us taking Communion outside a church building, so we spoke with a close friend who was also an ordained minister, and he performed that portion of our wedding.

As “luck” would have it, we took Communion as two individuals at the church service that morning. So we had this nice bookend on our wedding day — receiving the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for us as two separate individuals, and then later that same day, receiving the same symbol as one flesh in the sight of God and men.

It was pretty awesome.

For fourteen years, my wife and I have stuck it out, working hard to keep up the commitment to those vows we made.

Reciting words is easy. Living them out, not so much.

We’ve had our moments.

I remember a time about a year after we got married. I had successfully hidden my video game habits from my geographically separated bride-to-be, but my new wife who was living in the same house quickly became aware of just how much time I spent at the computer or the PlayStation.

(Yes, now we’re going back in time to the 1st generation PlayStation.)

Needless to say, there were… tensions. My wife had some crazy expectation that I would spend time with her, but I was too busy playing Jane’s Fighter Anthology and such on my PC.

It took a couple years of straining her patience, but one day I came home from work to find all my games had disappeared. She had hidden them. Not only that… she had placed a ransom note next to the XBox to let me know that I was not going to get the games back until I spent some quality time on a regular basis with her.

I was livid… mostly because I knew she was right.

A few years ago, we got into a fight. For the life of me, I can’t remember why. But we were both on the offensive, throwing verbal jabs back and forth, trying to score a hit with our words, becoming meaner and meaner with each volley of words. 

Then, right after I shot some insult or angry rebuttal at her, she put her hand on my cheek, told me that she loved me, and kissed me passionately. I’m sure everything natural in her wanted to fire back and cut me deeply with some response. But she stopped me cold, completely disarming my hostility. How do you argue with that? 

You don’t. I didn’t.

We were able to stop and realize we’re on the same side. We were able to figure out how to proceed as a team instead of as rivals.

Again, I have no idea why we were fighting, and it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that she demonstrated remarkable love, something I can only hope on my best days to emulate. 

And of course, she’s had her moments of doubt, of fear, of failure, of frustration. She’s had those days where she needs to be reminded that my love for her isn’t based on some evaluation of her performance or how well she measures up to my perfectionist standard. My love for her is based on the fact that it’s her we’re talking about.

She puts up with being marginalized and ignored if it means that I get recognized. I try not to let this happen, because my wife is pretty awesome and undeniably talented in various areas. But she’ll step out of the spotlight if it means I get recognized for something I’ve done. 

She is truly the most unselfish person I know.

My Bordermarches story? She’s heard every version of that and then some.

“What if Lyllithe was a NINJA!”  No, dear.

“Maybe Lyllithe is a robot.” Really? That’s…. nice.

“What if the world was secretly an alternate universe?”  Stop watching Fringe so much, honey.

She puts up with a lot.

I think back to our wedding, and to my proposal long before that.

I had to keep it hidden, because I really wanted to surprise her. We would go for long walks and share our hearts as we spent time together. I waited for one of these walks as my opportunity.

It was April 2nd. I figured I better wait until the 2nd, because proposing on April 1st might send a bad message.

I had her ring on my pinky finger, and I was trying my best to keep it hidden. 

There was a small bridge where we sometimes stopped to talk and watch the stars. I paused there, to “tie my shoe.”

Then I told her, “I love you, and I want you for my wife. Jami Michelle Bennett, will you marry me?”

Oddly enough, I had a dream where I was trying to figure out the exact seventeen words I was supposed to say to propose. I don’t know why it had to be seventeen. It just did.

We’ve had our ups and downs, our twists and turns, our crashes and our wrecks.

But we continue on, because she meant it when she said, “I do.” 

And so did I.

I often say that I have no regrets, nothing I would go back and change, given the opportunity. It seems silly to me to think, “If I could, I would go back and choose X instead of Y.” We can’t possibly know all the ways that minor detail might change our lives. Maybe it would be good. Maybe it would be bad. Either way, it’s not possible, so why waste time thinking of things we’d like to change when we can be working to change our current situation instead?

But I would go back and change one thing.

I’d say “as” instead of “for” in my proposal. It’s grammatically more accurate.

I still love you, Jami Michelle Williamson, and I am glad to have you as my wife. 

On to the next fourteen years!


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