Time changes us, our lives, and our relationships, sometimes for the better.
You are not the man I married. I can’t love you like I did.
We were young, standing at the front of a church before God and our families when we exchanged our vows. We slipped on our rings and traded our hearts for each others’ to have and to hold. But that was then. This is now.
Then, we were googly eyed and star struck. We had the world at our feet and we had on running shoes. We were ready to take on anything. You with your big brown puppy dog eyes that made my heart melt like butter on hot cornbread. Me in my white dress with sparkles all over and nails made of plastic covering the ones I like to chew when I get nervous. Plastic nails trump chewed nails in pictures every single time.
We took each other by the hand and prayed, because it was what was expected in a wedding. Neither of us prayed on a daily basis, but we followed custom and bowed our heads. We lit a candle in the center to signify the coming together of two lives and I nearly cried when it started to go out. You lifted the lighter towards the candle and suddenly the flame shot up, renewed. We both tried to keep from laughing. What a way to start our lives together!
We kissed and the preacher presented us for the first time as Mr. & Mrs. Our smiles were contagious as we walked down the aisle toward the back. All in attendance clapped their approval and thus our married life began. I had no idea that day how you’d change. How we’d change.
When I look at you now, before my eyes is not the man I married. I see a better man.
You are still the kid at heart that I absolutely adore. You still stand in awe at the night sky and amazement at the sunset. You still have those same puppy dog eyes that make my heart melt. But your hair is gray in places and your beard is much, much longer. You wear a white coat over your polo and you drink coffee more than you used to. Your eyes have cried more tears, and your lips have smiled more smiles, and so your face has lines where it didn’t before.
Still, it is the face I look for every morning and every night. It is the face I look to for reassurance and comfort. It is the face that is ever in my memory when I think about love. You are still as handsome as ever, more so. Time has been good to you.
You are not mine only now, either. I have to share you. You are not solely devoted to making me happy as you were when we were dating and in the early years of our marriage. Your attention is pulled and divided between work and school and home. You rush out in the morning, most days without a goodbye kiss, some days while I am still dreaming. You go here and go there. My time with you is not as plentiful as when we started this marriage.
It is, however, just as precious, and you treat it as such. I don’t mind having to share you, for I share you with a blue eyed little boy who adores his Dada. You are still wholly mine and wholly his, just the way it should be. And while my happiness may not be your sole concern now, providing for your family is. Still, you make my happiness a top priority and somehow you make time to love me even when you don’t have the time to give. You still make me feel like I am the only woman you have ever laid eyes on. You are the epitome of husband and father.
You are not only my best friend and my companion in this life the way you were when we wed. You are my brother in Christ now. You don’t pray because it’s expected anymore. You do so because you love the Lord like I do. You bow your head over our meals and pray aloud as you hold my hands because you are truly thankful for what you’ve been given. You have allowed the Lord to mold you and shape you. The result is the man I am in love with today.
The love I thought was perfect that day in May nearly eight years ago was just a seed planted. Surely, the rains came and watered it, the storms of life beat it down a few times, but roots took hold. And when, finally, the Son shone upon it, it blossomed.
You are a new man, a better man, a Godly man, and I can’t love you the way I did when we said I do, because you and I have grown together. We became new under God’s thumb, and I don’t love like that anymore. I love you deeper, because God’s love is deep. I love you truer, because God’s love is true. I love you stronger, because God’s love is the strongest of all.
And you love me, too.
Thank you for not being the man I married that I can’t love like I did.
Photos: Author’s own