One of my favourite photos from my relationship is one of just Dana (my husband) at our wedding, thirteen years ago, standing at the front of the church. I’m not in the photo, but looking at his face, there is no doubt he’s looking at me. I’d know that look anywhere: that look of adoration.
I’m currently in the process of sifting through many years of old digital photos. I couldn’t help but notice that the photos of Dana looking at me that way – the way he did on our wedding day – dated back to before we had children. “He doesn’t look at me like that anymore,” I thought to myself. I paused, and reconsidered.
For starters, he does still look at me like that – the looks are just less frequent now, because we are distracted by our young children. He is not always giving me those looks of adoration, because he is busy giving part of his tenderness to our beautiful children. He gives me other looks now: glances that say, “How lucky are we?” when our children are playing together, or “Is it bedtime yet?” when they’re driving us crazy.
Secondly, he can’t quite look at me the way he did in that photo nearly 13 years ago. That man still believes that his wife is perfect, and she’s not. The man in that wedding photo has not had to wait for me hundreds of times as I hurriedly finish getting ready for something. He hasn’t seen me walk into the bathroom to pee halfway through his shower, and he hasn’t been strong-armed into a series of family photo sessions. He hasn’t had to forgive me for sins I will not mention here. But the thing is, he did forgive me. He forgives me for all of it. He no longer looks at me as though I am perfect: he knows I’m not. And yet, he loves me.
The look in that wedding photo is very romantic, but the truth is, I’m not much of a romantic. For example, as much as I love surprises, I seek consistency when it comes to my marriage. Can I count on Dana to help me at bedtime with the kids? Will he call if he’s late coming home? Will he support my decisions? Yes, yes, and yes. All of this makes for a good marriage but a terribly boring romantic movie, which is why you haven’t seen a blockbuster about my predictable life. It’s easy to let the media sway me into thinking I should want something else, but I refuse to let them trick me. Many of my old flames could tell you that their romantic gestures were wasted on me. On the other hand, when Dana clears the snow off my car in the morning, I’m swooning all day.
So, he doesn’t always look at me like that wedding photo anymore, but now, he looks to me. I am his trusted partner in life. He respects and values my opinion, and he seeks my opinion not only in parenting matters in all matters of both his personal and professional life. StI wouldn’t trade places with that younger version of me behind his lens of adoration. She doesn’t know the fullness of marriage the way I do.