Friday, April 16, 2010


I got a haircut this morning, and the ladies in the beauty shop were talking about their husbands. I didn't say anything, just listened and smiled. I thought about Garrison Keillor's riffs about the hairdressers being the high priestesses of a town, full of knowledge about life and men and romance, and yet, knowing all they know, still getting brides ready for their weddings.

I lucked out in the husband department. And when I say luck, I don't mean that I believe in randomness. I just mean that I got an excellent husband, and I can't take much credit.

I was eighteen when I met my husband, and while many eighteen-year-olds may be full of wisdom, I wasn't. I was naive and immature, and I was a very long way from home.

What did I know about choosing a life partner? All I knew was that I couldn't get enough of being with him. I liked that he was smart and could talk about books with me, that he took long bicycle trips, that he was an MK, like I was. I found him mysterious, in a way that made him a challenge. I thought he had beautiful blue eyes. He could talk about anything to anyone. He had done all kinds of fascinating jobs and seemed full of experiences in a way the other boys weren't. He took me on gourmet picnics (there was one memorable one where he set some grass on fire with his camping stove), and introduced me to sushi, and he kept a pet snake. He took me on a two hundred mile motorcycle trip, much to my parents' horror. I knew he was open to traveling and living overseas.

I thought my life with him would be an adventure (and I was right). I thought we would always have things to talk about (and we do). He made my heart pound (and he still can). I remember hearing someone say that you should look at the man you wanted to marry and imagine looking at him across the dinner table for the rest of your life. From that perspective, I thought he would do.

But what did I know? I didn't know he would forgive me immediately when I lost his precious leather jacket he had bought in Tokyo. I didn't know how he would buoy me up through the stress of graduate school. I didn't know he would be able to deal with his first case of malaria by saying, proudly, "Just like Graham Greene." I didn't know he would be the most amazing labor coach, supporting me so beautifully as I worked to bring our babies into the world. I didn't know how he would carry those babies in his arms and show them around, or anything at all about what a great dad he would be. I didn't know that I needed someone who could bargain for fruit at roadside stands in Haiti and make all the merchants laugh, or drive in Port-au-Prince and pronounce it "fun," or remain calm through all manner of crises. I didn't know I needed someone who could cope with a catastrophic earthquake.

Like any couple, we have had our share of difficulties. We argue, and hurt each other's feelings, and he leaves his socks on the floor (and I may do a few things he doesn't like, as well). I'm also well aware that now that we have been apart for three months (minus a few days in early February), my missing him is making me focus on the positive.

But all in all, I have to thank God for bringing my husband into my life. God was very kind to me; He knew what I needed even though I didn't.

Now I am staying in the college town where we met, and almost every day I walk past the church where we married. I look back at that very young woman that walked down the aisle and I think about Sara Groves' song, "Different Kinds of Happy."

Better than our promises
is the day we got to keep them
I wish those two could see us now
they never would believe how
there are different kinds of happy

The kind of happy we are in now is something I wouldn't have wished for as I posed for pictures in my wedding dress, clutching flowers. It's a kind of happy that looks like grief, some days. And yet we still have each other. And I call myself very, very lucky.


Laura Jones said...

A gorgeous tribute to your man and to the life and love you share. God bless you both!

Janet said...

I like the detail about the leather jacket best.

camilla said...

You inspire me to think about all the things I love about my dear husband. Thank you.

Tricia said...


Eva said...

Ruth, I love this! I'm so thankful for the blessing of my amazing husband too. I hope you're having/had a good time with him after so much time apart. Blessings on your family!