Just over two years ago, I said “Yes” to my husband Mike as he was down on one knee at the Red Rocks amphitheater in Golden, Colorado. At that time, Mike was finishing his fourth year fellowship in Minneapolis, I lived just outside Denver in my own condo, and worked as a research coordinator at Children’s Hospital. Here we are now living near New Haven, Connecticut, Mike is done with all of his medical training, and is a “real doctor.” I’m no longer working, and am about to become a mother any day now. Although my circumstances have changed drastically, my mindset has been a bit slower to accommodate. The hardest thing for me since I said, “Yes,” has been relinquishing my unrestricted and undisputed independence.
From the time we combined our belongings into a tiny two-bedroom apartment, it was apparent that there were two very stubborn individuals entering this marriage. I thought his Lazy Boy chair was gross and he thought my couch was uncomfortable. My taste in decor was too modern for him and his was too conventional/boyish dorm for me. He had way too many coffee mugs than any one person would ever need in a lifetime and he couldn’t believe I still had an entire box of CDs. We each had a full set of kitchen pots and pans, and of course I thought we should get rid of his set since I’m the resident chef. It was surprising how passionate we both were about not getting rid of our own stuff and how sensitive we were about it. It felt like a personal attack if a negative comment was made about a painting or utensil or coffee table we ourselves owned. I was honestly taken aback, and then annoyed that he wanted a say in how our new place was going to be furnished and decorated. That was the first test of “two becoming one” in our marriage. There have been many more since, but we’ve learned to deal with each test with humor, respect, and love. The longer we are married, the familiarity between us grows and we now don’t take things quite as personally.
I think the transition for him going from single bachelor to husband and soon-to-be father has, at least outwardly, been easier for him than the transition has been for me. This fiercely independent streak in me has been difficult to tame. I have slowly realized though, that what I want isn’t always best for both of us. It is a pride-swallowing endeavor and some days I feel like a total jerk. Mike seems inherently able to make decisions that benefit us both, even though it may take hindsight for me to admit. It seems that marriage doesn’t work when we each fend for ourselves.
Back in February, Mike and I went to Hawaii. One day, we took a snorkeling tour and the boat took us to two different snorkeling spots. It was beautiful to see colorful fish and coral reefs, however, the water in mid-February wasn’t all that warm. By the time I got back on the boat and wrapped the towel around me, I couldn’t stop shaking, even after eating lunch. When we got to the second snorkeling spot, I was hesitant about getting back in. Ultimately, I decided to jump in since how often does one get the chance to snorkel in Hawaii? Mike offered me the pool noodle, to which I scoffed. I don’t need a kiddie toy to float! I can swim just fine, thank you! The plan was for me to get in the water first, wait for him to get in, and explore the reef together. However, when I got back in, the water struck me as so cold that I took off like a cannon into the water with my flippers. Unfortunately, at five months pregnant, I was carrying the baby up fairly high and she was taking up precious lung capacity. I fully realized this fact after swimming at full speed directly away from the boat. I abruptly stopped and looked behind me scanning frantically over the water for Mike as I gasped for air, utterly exhausted. He was halfway between the boat and me. I panicked that I was not able to catch my breath. It was too far to make it back to the boat, and the shore was so rocky and too full of coral. I was helpless, only able to very slowly kick my legs to stay afloat. He popped up out of the water and asked if I was okay. “I should have taken the noodle,” I gasped. Sensing my panic, he was torn between going back to the boat to grab that stupid noodle, and continuing to me. He blessedly swam over to me, propped me up by my butt with one hand, and treaded water for what seemed like forever while he calmed me down and my breathing returned to normal. He quite literally saved my life. Once we were back on the boat, he softly chuckled with his bear arms wrapped around me, “Oh, my independent Meekah.”
Each step and phase of our lives prepares us for what is next. We are stretched, sanded down, humbled, encouraged, and strengthened by both circumstances and by the people we invite into our lives. I’m so thankful to be married to this man. He is so patient with and protective of me, I know he will be an incredible father. Because of him, I’m learning to think outside myself and think what is best for our little family. I can, without fear, trust him to take care of us because we’ve both entrusted God with our lives. The two of us are celebrating our birthdays this weekend, and our baby girl may even decide to join the festivities as well. As selfish as this is to admit, I’m a little sad that the time I have him all to myself is coming to an end. I have no doubt that soon I will learn the truth for myself that love does not divide when shared, it only multiplies. We will be learning how to be parents together and I wouldn’t want to be partnered in this life with anyone else.