I first met Ethan when I was 7 years old. Yup…you read that right: 7. We both attended our church’s summer camp and that’s where this all started. Now let Ethan tell you, he knew right away that he was going to marry me someday (he even told my mom this when he was 9!), but me?? Not so much. I needed some convincing. Ethan pursued me fiercely when we were younger and I never wanted to admit how much I liked him. I didn’t matter that he gave me my first kiss (in the church mind you…haha) or that my pre-adolescent stomach filled with butterflies every single time I saw him around church…I just wasn’t ready to admit how much I liked him. Guess you could say I was pretty stubborn.
Clearly, a lot has changed since then. Now it seems like I can’t stop talking about how much I love him. But more than that, we have changed as people. When we finally decided to try our hand at dating, we learned a lot about each other, but now that we’re married, we’ve learned one VERY important thing:
” …just because you knew me, doesn’t mean you know me.”
How many of us have known each other for what seems like forever and as a result we assume that we know them inside and out and don’t give them room to be who they are?
In so many different ways, we’re not the little boy and little girl we once were. We’ve experienced life, evolved and grown into the adults we are now. When Ethan and I first started dating, we got into so many arguments because we both were too busy thinking we were dating someone we knew 100%. But the truth is, we didn’t know much about each other as we were. We were dating an idea…the person we imagined each other to be based off how were were as kids. It took us a while to stop fighting it, but once we began to really take the time to learn each other…to see and RESPECT each other for who we had become, we were able to connect with each other on deeper, more meaningful level.
(photo by Amanda Hedgepeth)
After we got married, naturally, the growing pains continued. We had finally understood each other has boyfriend and girlfriend, but as husband and wife?? Nah.
Slipping into our roles as man and wife isn’t as easy as slipping your wedding band on. Neither one of us had been married before, so it’s taken many arguments, many side eyes and a lot of eye-rolling in order to figure our this marriage thing and to be honest, we’re STILL getting the hang of it. It’s taken a LOT of grace, patience and love on both sides to keep going.
I’ve learned ALOT since getting married more than a year ago, but one lesson I’ll never forget is that I’ll never 100% know who Ethan is. He’s not the same person today he was when we started dating and he won’t be the same person in the next 5, 10 or 15 years. Giving him room to be who he is right now, not only gives him room to grow, but it also gives me room to grow too, because truth is, he’ll never 100% know me either. Heck, I don’t even know myself 100%!! I’ve changed so much, grown up so much…my thoughts and priorities?? All different. And I’ll continue to evolve. So if I’m constantly growing and evolving as a woman, who am I to try to stifle his growth? Who am I to try to keep him the just way he once was and confine him to a box? If I try to hold on to this fantasy person…this idea of who I think he should be, I’ll never be able to fully appreciate the man he really is and he’ll never be able to the man and husband God needs him to be for me. Fundamentally, we are still the same, but going through this marriage only seeing each other as the kids from summer camp or as the college students we once were, would be such a disservice to us both.
It’s crazy to believe that I’ve known this man for more than two decades. Ethan is the one who gave me my first kiss. He was the first guy I ever wrote in a journal about and the first guy I ever said ‘I love you’ to. Remembering the boy he was back then always brings a smile to my face, but giving him room to grow has allowed me to fall deeper in love with the man he is today and for me, that is one heck of a reward. 🙂
(photo by Amanda Hedgepeth)