Thirteen years ago today, Jared married me. I look at this handsome, helpful, capable, strong, wonderful man and marvel that he really did choose me. And then I count my blessings that he continues to stick by me and be the most supportive husband and helper imaginable - even when I'm an emotional wreck, even when I take on way too much and he has to pick up the slack, even when I don't appreciate him nearly as much as I should, even when I'm critical and demanding, even when I'm just plain un-fun.
Jared is everything I'm not. He's even and stable when I'm volatile and emotional. He's smart in ways I'm pretty clueless. He's accepting and non-judgmental and balances my tendency to be a critic all the time. He's tough when I'm wimpy and inspires me to be less of a complainer. He counts blessings when I count problems. He's accommodating and bending when I'm demanding and particular. He's practical to offset my idealism. I dream things up. He makes things happen.
Jared's everything I never knew I needed and is pretty far from what I thought I'd find. I imagined an intellectual, a romantic, a lover of books, a dreamer, an idea-guy. I got a no-nonsense adventure-sports-loving MIT-trained mechanical engineer who says he mostly just likes books if they have good pictures in them - or good information on how to do stuff on the computer or fix the car.
I loved who Jared was when I married him. But I thought maybe he could be even better. I thought he would surely become more romantic and more intellectual as he spent time with me. I wished for a souped up version of this great guy - so much so that I messed things up quite a bit. I could see how he could change and how that could help him stretch and grow in meaningful ways - and refused to admit that what I really wanted was for him to change so that things would be easier for me.
I've learned a lot in thirteen years. I'm a slow learner in a lot of ways - I think most people like me who think they're right all the time can be pretty stubborn, slow learners. I'm still learning every day - and working to change myself rather than change Jared.
I've learned that unconditional love is necessary and that giving 100%, not 50%, is vital. I've learned that I don't know nearly as much as I generally think I know. I've learned to make the things that are important to Jared important to me as well - or at least accept their importance to Jared. I've learned that the golden rule often doesn't work - if I do unto Jared what I would like him to do unto me, I often do things that actually aren't in his love language at all and that he doesn't naturally appreciate. I've learned to let go - let go of expectations, let go of preconceived notions, let go of some things I thought were "needs" but that I realized were really "wants" or romantic ideas of how things should be. And I've learned to count my blessings instead of my worries and challenges. Let go and be grateful. That has become my mantra.
I am so grateful for all the adventures Jared has made possible in my life - from having five kids in five years to traveling all over the place to running crazy 36-hour relay races to building websites. I'm so grateful to have a partner to share the work and play and joy of life with. I'm so grateful Jared keeps sticking with me.
Here's the little video I made last year for our anniversary - it captures the highlights of our life together. We're watching it with the kids in a few minutes before Jared and I head out to dinner. We had a wonderful day together with all the kids being at school. We got our work done and enjoyed a wonderful brunch together and talked about lots of our favorite memories of our wedding day and anniversaries (not Jared's favorite thing - but he's learned that a big way to speak my love language is to indulge me in some trading of memories - and I've learned not to expect him to reminisce without prompting).