Growing together



It rained the morning of our wedding, which I’ve heard is good luck.  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  I woke up with my best friends, so excited about the day ahead.  Like an eager kid, I couldn’t wait to marry the woman of my dreams, someone who I thought had actually figured me out.  What a blessing!  But, like any wedding day I had to wait for the magic moments, we had a ton of time to kill before the afternoon ceremony.  So, we went to the mall.  Wild right? Actually, one of us suggested that we go get some mani/pedis like the young metro-sexual that we were at the time.  All of us were newly minted graduates (3 of us from Emory, the other 2 from schools in South Carolina), and as recent college grads we were long on ideas and short on cash.  As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember being very broke the entire weekend surrounding the wedding, but that’s another story for another blogpost…

Afterwards I remember arriving at the wedding site location early with the fellas.  Samantha and I choose to get married at a nice country club location just outside of Baltimore where she grew up.  The entire day my two best men (because really, how could I pick just one?) had my cell phone so as family members or even my bride to be called for various last minute emergencies, they had to go through either Yusef or Alfred.  By the end of the day they gladly handed over the phone.  Meanwhile, I was floating on cloud nine.  Given all the usual drama that surrounded the day of a wedding, I was completely oblivious.  There’s a picture of me in our wedding album joking around with my groomsmen, and the smiles tell the whole story.  I knew the wedding day was going to be fun, but even then I was more interested in the marriage.  By the time the small drizzle had let up and the sun burst through the clouds, we were all ready to take our places under the pavilion and the rest was history.

This weekend Samantha and I celebrated our 12 year anniversary as a married couple.  Being the nostalgic soul that I am, I tend to spend a lot of time looking back on things, appreciating the past.  For me, it really is remarkable to think that as two 18 year old kids were open enough to find each other in a college dorm room back in 2001.  Our mutual friends for months had encouraged us to take a chance on each other, and honestly I noticed her well before I think she noticed me.  She was too busy about her business.  But with my usual persistence I won her over, and it wasn’t long before I proclaimed, you’re going to be my wife.  It was the marriage that I wanted all along.

Last night while walking to dinner Samantha this guy drove past us and yelled out, hey, I like your style!  Samantha thinks he was referring to the new hat she picked out for me (she’s probably right).  During dinner (we at at South City Kitchen- one of my top 3 favorite restaurants), I savored the food.  Afterwards I turned to her and remarked how perfect the meal and location was.  She replied, that’s why I chose it for us, I knew it would be something you’d like, traditional southern cooking.  Being married to Samantha is the epitome of being known, and that I think is the essence of a healthy relationship.

After dinner we sat out on the terrace of our hotel, only intending to enjoy the night air breeze for a few minutes, but we ended up talking for hours.  When we looked down at our clocks (meaning our phones lol), we were amazed.  It was like we were back in Longstreet all over again (our freshmen dorm, the site of many an all nighter conversation).  But again, there’s the essence of being known.  It’s no small feat that after 12 years married, 15 years in the relationship that you’re with someone that you can still get lost in conversation for hours into the night.

Probably the coolest part about the weekend (and there’s so much to choose from- no kids is a close second!), is how we started our trip with a 2.5 hour vision meeting.  No lie, we actually sat down and reviewed our progress with our current 5 year plan (it’s our third such plan, when we got married we created our first one, then came 2 more).  It involves buckets of priorities/goals such as marriage, family, finances, career, and ministry).  For over 2 hours we talked about where we’ve been this year, what’s on the horizon, and celebrated a few wins and made some commitments to ramp up in a few areas.  When I say this woman gets me, this woman gets me! (for anyone who knows me well, this is like air to me…vision setting and living a values aligned life).

Every now and again people will ask for some relationship or marital advice, and the best advice I can offer is to grow together.  Samantha and I have literally and figuratively grown up together these past 15 years.  Everyday it has been a conscious decision to grow together, rather than separately.  It’s meant having a set of shared values and organizing our lives and our decisions around those values.  That’s what’s driven everything we do, from our decision to wait to have kids for 5 years after first being married, to our decision to run for office or pursue other dreams.  We actually don’t have a ton of other things in common, she’s a foodie- I’m the most simple eater you’ll find.  I like routine and I’m super predictable, she likes spontaneity and adventure.  But it works because we share and are committed to the same values.  There’s no “growing apart” here, because we choose to grow together.

So, as we embrace the next frontier of our relational journey I can’t help but thank God for this wonderful partner of mine.  She gets me, I get her, and yet we’re still learning each other everyday.  Here’s to continued growth!

Happy Anniversary Baby



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