My wife and I will have been married thirteen years this August, and we dated five years prior to that.
Eighteen years is a long time to be with someone. Time enough, even, to go beyond togetherness to an almost oneness. I’m thirty-six, and I’ve lived almost a third of my life with this lady by my side. I couldn’t face a day without her. No doubt about it.
But I didn’t really start loving her until last Thursday. Seven-thirteen in the p.m., to be exact. In the third aisle of the grocery store, next to the cans of green beans, while reading the newest issue of Men’s Health.
Sounds strange, doesn’t it? That I could say such a thing about my angel, my soul mate and the mother of my children seems a little heartless. But it’s true, and I’ll tell you why:
Going to the grocery store is not a man’s idea of a great night out. Ask any of us. They’re intimidating. You walk in and there’s all this stuff. Food and drink and cleaning supplies are all arranged in some sort of satanic version of the Dewey Decimal system that can only be deciphered with a healthy dose of estrogen. Women instinctually know where everything is in a grocery store are. Aside from the beer and magazines, men do not. Grocery stores scare us in a Twilight Zonish sort of way.
And it’s even scarier with my wife.
Because a trip to the store exposes the differences between us. My wife is methodical and deliberate. I am distracted and hurried. She compares prices and clips coupons and has even been known to barter to get the cheapest price possible. I will pay three hundred dollars for a softball bat, use it for a dozen games, and then buy another. Because that’s how I roll.
Her philosophy of shopping closely parallels her philosophy of life: if you take your time and plan accordingly, you can get a lot of what you need, some of what you want, and a little extra of both. I generally take the Navy SEAL approach, whether it be in life or in shopping: hit first, hit hard, and go home.
In other words, my wife and I are opposites. Not in values, maybe. But definitely in personality. And I’ve spent much of the past eighteen years trying to rectify that by convincing her that her way of doing things wasn’t right, so she should be more like me. The logic seemed inescapable. What better way to improve a marriage?
But then we went to the grocery store together and wheeled our shopping cart into the third aisle, where the cans of green beans were stocked. Where we sat for what seemed like an eternity as she looked through her coupons and studied every brand, every size, to find exactly what her family needed.
Normally, I would coax her along. I would start to slowly ease the cart away from her and toward the next item on the list (wherever that was). I would sigh and pace and sigh again, and then I would tell her that we could plant green beans, watch them grow, and pick and snap and cook them in less time than it took for her to make up her mind.
But I didn’t do that. Not that time. I simply reached into the cart for a magazine I was hoping to save for that night, opened it up, and started reading.
I wasn’t going to change my wife. I knew that then. And I also knew that didn’t matter. Because I didn’t marry her for who I wanted her to be, I married her for who she was. And I had the sneaky feeling she had done the same.
I looked at her as she studied her options, flipping a lock of blond hair from her eyes, and I realized, finally, that I loved this woman. Loved her truly. Loved her with a passion and depth that defied words. And it occurred to me that we could stand there in that aisle and look for green beans forever, and it wouldn’t matter.
Just as long as we were together.
For those of you out there who haven’t had the opportunity to hear or see this song, I invite you to do so. It says what all men think about the ladies in their lives but sometimes just can’t find the words to say. I dedicate it now to the woman in my life, and the women in yours…
Happy Easter, everyone. He is risen. Rejoice!