When I was growing up, whether it was playing “house” with my baby dolls or gossiping with my friends during my teenage years about our boyfriend of the month, I remember specifically daydreaming about how wonderful it would be when I got married one day.
Surely, I would find some dreamy guy who would continually give me butterflies throughout our entire marriage. He would be well educated — a doctor, maybe — and make lots of money so he would be able to provide my every want and need.
On holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and just-because days, he would bring me flowers and chocolates and buy me fancy jewelry. Yep, I would find someone to fulfill all of those things.
Any yet, here I am eight years into my marriage with Paul and I cannot tell you the last time he bought me flowers. And I am pretty sure that the last piece of jewelry he bought me is my wedding ring. Our salaries together do not add up to a fraction of what a doctor makes and most days the butterflies are so tired from a long day at work followed by an evening of parenting that they feel like they left altogether.
Surprisingly though, when I said “I do” and stopped looking for the cliches, I actually found the real building blocks of marriage.
I found smiles, laughter and friendship — true best-friend-friendship, where we can stay up for hours talking and know that we won’t even regret the tiredness the next day.
I found my one that loves the middle pieces of pizza and always leaves me my favorite — the edges, specifically, the corners. I found someone who loves to cook and feed his family which makes doing the dishes feel less like a task and more like my contribution.
I found someone who is good with taking turns sleeping in on the weekends, especially important once baby two came along and fought sleep. Even now, it is a morning break I know I can take without any guilt.
I found someone who believes in me and supports my career dreams, who stepped up to the dad plate when I had a crazy idea to take on 12-hour swing shifts and then 24/7 on-call hours.
I found someone who not only appreciates me and every little thing I do for him and our family but who tells me constantly how much he appreciates me. And I always make sure he gets the appreciation back. I have found that he and I both do way more than expected when we know it matters and we are appreciated.
I found someone who is different enough that he teaches me about new things — foods, shows, adventures — not someone who agrees with my every word but instead challenges me to other perspectives. And yet someone who is similar enough that we both have had to learn and grow through our stubborn ways.
I found someone who will pray with me — someone I can text at work when I am having a hard day — and I know he will throw some prayers up.
I found someone who truly shares the parenting and household tasks — making daily school lunches, running the girls to dance and soccer, attacking the laundry monster and taking out of the trash. Even if I sometimes do have to casually remind him when it gets a little too full. Regardless, he not only helps deal with the messes of two young kids but also joins right in on the making of memories.
I found someone who shares in the bedtime experiences with the girls, from putting on pajamas to brushing teeth. Someone who sits on the floor while stories are read and prayers are said. Someone who doesn’t miss a kiss goodnight.
Most importantly, I found someone who loves me — unconditionally — for no other reason than just being ME.
Maybe he doesn’t bring home boxed chocolates for every occasion, but he knows I prefer Reese’s. Often, I make him wait until payday to go grocery shopping, but our bills are paid, our house is warm, our bellies are full, and we want for very little.
And while most nights we are too tired to wake the butterflies, the comfort and contentment of unfiltered chats and not only falling asleep next to the one I love, but knowing that he will be there for me day after day sure beats that fluttering feeling anyway.
No, in our marriage, I didn’t find all the things I was so looking forward to. But instead, I found so much more.
I am so thankful I found you, Paul. Happy Anniversary. I love you.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.