Yesterday, Patrick said to me, “I cleaned out your sink drain so it wouldn’t drain slowly.” I have really long hair (for now anyway), and if you’ve ever had or lived with someone with long hair, you know that drains, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, get clogged. I’ll add, it’s gross. It makes me gag.
But here’s the thought that I had when he told me that. That’s what love looks like. We’ve been married over 19 years. Tomorrow will mark 24 years since we started dating. We were 17 (if you care to do the math) and young and stupid (no need to tell me not to say that . . . we were) and naive when we first met and started dating shortly thereafter. We weren’t close friends or besties first. We got to know one another while dating, but we dated for a long time before getting engaged. We were still young and somewhat stupid and maybe slightly less naive when we married at 22. We’ve grown and grown up together. We are very much different people, yet somehow still the same, as we were over 20 years ago.
Patrick still has a ridiculous sense of humor and is extroverted as all get out. Sometimes he makes me laugh hysterically. Sometimes he annoys the living daylights out of me, but he regularly pushes me out of my comfort zone. For that I’m grateful. He still procrastinates but then manages to get it all done and works harder than anyone I know. I’m pretty sure there’s not a day of the week he’s not working. He runs a business, works on our investment properties, teaches and is on the worship team at church, and provides for and leads us beyond well. He also, knows how to have fun and enjoy life.
I’m still over here struggling with OCD tendencies. Not to mention, I’m incredibly introverted. I still fight fear and obsessively worrying about things, but I’ve also learned to fight that on the front end. I’ve learned to pause, take a breath, and admit when something is making me anxious. I’ve learned, or am learning, excellence and doing things well are not the same as being perfect, and lowering my standards to be somewhat reasonable does not equal compromise. And maybe most importantly, I can sometimes let go and just have fun.
I think we’ve both learned that love for one another can look so many different ways. It can mean romance and flowers and dates. It can mean weekends away and fun trips to far off places. Romance, doing thoughtful and caring things for one another, should not be something we totally neglect. Those things do matter, and we make an effort to spend time together, away from the kids, away from the crazy, and to prioritize one another and our relationship because it is that important. But also, love is cleaning out the dumb, gross sink drain. It’s letting the other one sleep in while you get up and let the geriatric dog out long before the sun rises. It’s working together to figure out schedules when your fifteen-year-old is insanely busy and your nine-year-old is running a sky-high fever.
It’s all of those things and more. It’s not a Romcom or a romance novel. It’s way more than a feeling. Because there are times when you feel it, and times when you don’t. There are times when you’re dead tired and just doing good to get through the day. And there are times when you have all the good feels and you remember, yep, this is my person. Love is first an action, a verb, a commitment, and the feelings often follow.
We’re far from perfect. We have good days and days when we both need an attitude check. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we’re both hardheaded, stubborn, and strong willed, and God has really had to work some things out in both of us. I’ve had to learn, I’m still learning, to let Patrick lead our family . . . to not try to take control and take over. But thankfully, by the grace of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we get better with each passing year. I wouldn’t want to live this wonderful, crazy life with anyone else.