The other day, my husband and I marked fifteen years from the day of our first date as adults. Because we dated as teenagers, I tend to connote the two eras of our life with “as kids” and “as adults.” The only anniversaries we celebrate are those from our adult era, but the distinction between our adolescent relationship and adult relationship is important.
While romantic, our adolescent beginning is the smallest part of our relationship. It’s cute and sweet that we met when we were 13, that we were part of each other’s first hour of the first day of high school, that we became each other’s first important relationship. People put a lot of stock into that part of us; the high school sweethearts who reconnected many years later. But while that knowledge of each other provided a basis for us knowing each other later, it isn’t the core of who we are as a couple.
When we came together as adults, the relationship was markedly different, and free from the pettiness and smallness of youth. Tim has always been a serious, mature individual (silly sense of humor notwithstanding), and the way he approached our relationship set the tone for everything that came afterward.
In those days before the Internet was available on every home computer, Tim sought and found me from across the country, made contact through an actual letter (ink! on paper! WITH STAMPS!), and, when the time was right, traveled almost 400 miles one way to take me on our first date. Every single step he took was a statement of purpose, of intention, of his commitment to me and our future together.
And that has been true of everything he has done since that first date, as well. While much of what has transpired has been family specific, and not the height of romance or excitement, there’s something thrilling about a man who is willing to show up when he says he’s going to show up, to not just say “I want to be with you” but to roll his sleeves up and do the work required to actively *be* with me. And it was work. We had to overcome the 400 mile distance, the struggles of unemployment and co-parenting and trifling extended family drama all begging us to quit, trying to convince us that it wasn’t worth it, that we’d never make it.
Maybe it was the fact that we had so much working against us that made us commit ever more ardently to our cause. A defiance, albeit a practical one, that we knew what we were doing, that despite the apparent problems, being together was the best thing for us to do.
So when someone made light of our anniversary, someone who knows so little of who Tim is that they could equate him with the typical knuckle-dragging male, I had to object. And from what I gather from the single women I’ve talked to, there are a lot of fully grown men who talk big, but don’t ever follow through. Over-promise, under-deliver.
But that’s not Tim.
He may never be the kind of man who brings me flowers or writes passionate poetry extolling my beauty, but he has always been and will always be the man who shows up, the one who rolls up his sleeves and does what needs to be done. Maybe he will never be the rock star, the smooth talker, the tortured poet, the charming sophisticate. I don’t care.
Because he is a rock, steadfast, true. Maybe I don’t have much of a sense of humor about this, it’s true. But I can’t make light of what Tim is, because it’s so good, and so very rare. He is the real deal, an honest-to-God good man. Is he perfect? No. Does he work his ass off to do the right thing every time? You bet he does.
So if you make a joke at Tim’s expense, don’t be surprised when I smack you down. He’s the best man I know, flaws and all.
Don’t you ever forget it.