When I met my wife, I was a serial dater; and by that I mean that I made it my business to go out on dates with a wide range of eligible bachelorettes in hopes that one day I would strike gold and find a wife. One assumption people made about me during that time was that I was some kind of super confident bachelor when it came to dating and women – it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
I didn’t think I was that handsome; I had a lot of weird emotional baggage I didn’t know what to do with; and no matter how much I succeeded at work, I always had this nagging sense that I was really a failure in my career. So whenever I would go out with a woman and she would somehow trigger any of my insecurities, I quickly moved on. I mean, that was a lot easier than dealing with my issues. But then along came my wife.
When I met Raquel, I didn’t feel like I was being evaluated or examined – I felt like I was being checked out by a woman who was attracted to me. I didn’t feel like she was trying to dominate my personality – I felt like she was studying who I was and liking what she saw. She wasn’t aggressive in her approach; she was encouraging. Rather than try to make something happen with a deluge of words, she moved my heart by silently maintaining eye contact with me for those extra three seconds. With all of this, she obliterated my defenses and pulled me into a vortex of infatuation that led us to the altar just nine months after we met.
The dating script has long since worn out its usefulness. I know the things I say and do that embarrass my wife, push her buttons, and frustrate the mess out of her. I periodically have to ask her to give me a little space to be my own man; and I sometimes have to fight through the stresses of her life to get her attention. But I’m still in love with her – more in love with her than I ever was when we were dating, and here’s part of the reason why: in addition to all the responsibilities she carries as a wife and mother, she still does a lot of the things she did back when we were dating, but it means more to me now because she’s doing them without the rocket fuel of infatuation to inspire her.
Seriously, six years into marriage, the woman is still checking me out. She’s still affirming my looks and character, telling me I’m a great dad and husband. She’s still asking questions about me out of curiosity, and she’s still encouraging me, sometimes just by stopping for a moment and silently looking me in the eyes for those extra three seconds. And in those three seconds, we share all kinds of unspoken understandings, experiences, and secrets. But the most important thing she shares, the thing keeps me in love with her to this day, is knowing that she’s still loving me well because she loves me, the real me.