April 25, 2012 - Twenty years ago on April 18, my husband John and I pledged our love to one another in front of more than 150 family members and friends.
I can remember certain details of that day vividly—how shy I felt walking down the church aisle, how heavy my bouquet felt, how the flowers shook in my nervous hands—and how all of that faded when I reached the altar and looked up into John's eyes. He took my hands and mouthed the words I needed, that I was beautiful and that he loved me.
Our minister talked about a ladder of love or some such thing and I honestly don't remember much of her sermon. I do recall the vows we took— to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better and worse. And I remember being so incredibly excited to be starting my life with the man I had chosen and the one who had chosen me.
Our wedding wasn't as big or as lavish a production as many weddings are, but it was a special day and it was ours. What is more special to me, especially two decades into this venture we call marriage, is everything that has followed.
We spoke the vows, but what makes our life together is living those vows, through hours, and days, and years.
Romance novels always seem to focus on two people meeting and how they fall in love. It's all about the early days, the passion, the newness of it all. I dislike romance novels. It's not that I don't remember or relate to the excitement of new love and how I felt in the two years of dating we had before our marriage, but a real love story to me is one that lasts for years. Twenty years of marriage has taught me what real love is.
Love is your husband holding your your hand even as you crush it in the midst of a contraction, leaving the room to cry, returning for the next contraction, smiling with pride as he holds your newborn daughter.
Love is raising your child together, being there for all the moments, fun and not so fun-- from playing games and riding roller coasters and going on field trips to changing the diapers and disciplining and helping with homework.
Love is working together to support the family— financially to have a roof over your heads and food on the table, but also doing the chores to keep the house clean, the pets cared for, cooking the meals.
Love is the arms that hold you close when you're having a terrible day, the hands that wipe away your tears or shares those tears in times of great sorrow.
Love is celebrating each other's triumphs and supporting each other in times of hardship.
Love is being able to say "I'm sorry" and truly forgiving each other after a fight.
Love is having someone who understands you and listens to you and knows you better than anyone else. Love is the person you can't wait to share a story with and talk about your day with, the person you can't wait to come home to.
Love is cuddling on the couch as you watch a movie together, dancing in the kitchen, texting each other lyrics to love songs.
Love is making each other a priority and being confident in that love. Love is respectful and loyal and faithful, every minute of every hour of every day, for years. True love endures.
Twenty years of marriage and we are living a true love story. It's not flashy, it's not perfect, but it is most definitely real and it's lasting.
I can't wait to turn the page and see what our next chapter holds.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville