Just over two years ago, Scott and I hiked to a beautiful waterfall here in Tennessee and sat up together under the trees — talking, soaking up the view, and enjoying being together again at long last. It was then that Scott put into words what our hearts had been saying for a while, and I thought I loved him then.
Not quite a year later, I watched his face while I walked down the aisle on our wedding day. I thought back to the day that we shared our first “I love you’s” and smiled, because right at that moment, I couldn’t begin to compare the way that our love had grown. I couldn’t imagine how it would be possible to love this man, my best friend, any more than I did on that our wedding day. But, as the days pass, and the milestones slip by, and I look at the one I love more than anyone else in this world, I keep smiling, and whisper, “And I thought I loved you then.”
To me, nothing is so beautiful as this gift of love that grows and keeps getting better all the time. It is one of the most precious things in my life, and I count it a privilege that is worth everything to keep. And I pray every day that I’ll always feel this way.
Before I got married, I studied love the best I could. I observed it from the sidelines, I pondered it, I read principles of true love, and prayed that God would instill them in my heart and help me to be the kind of wife that the man I might marry someday would find a blessing. But, it has been these days after my marriage that I have truly tasted what love really is all about — not just in principle, but in practice.
I have always thought of Love as being a lot like a plant. It grows, but in order to be as beautiful, bountiful, and sweet as it has potential to be, it has to be watered, it has to be cultivated, it has to be cherished. And even in the happiest home, the practical side of this understanding isn’t always easy.
There is nothing that melts my heart more than hearing those three special words spoken by my man, and seeing that look of sweet love in his eyes. It makes me feel cherished, and in turn makes me love him all the more.
But love is so much more than just those three little words. In marriage, as in any relationship, those words only mean as much as the actions that back them up. Every day life is a beautiful adventure when you spend it hand in hand with your best friend, but every day life is also real.
Sometimes, it’s a pretty easy choice to love with everything you have. But sometimes real life isn’t easy, and isn’t particularly fairy tale-like. It sometimes involves cars that break, washing machines that leak all over the floor, rental houses that are filled with fleas that won’t go away, husbands that get hurt, or scraping the bottom of the barrel to get by for a while. It might mean picking up laundry that somehow gets tossed on the floor every night instead of put away every single morning. It might mean being interrupted from what feels important to me at the moment, in order to do what is important to him. It may even mean giving up some cherished dream.
After all, love is more about giving than it is about taking. And sometimes, loving with everything I am and have crosses me in ways that my self most certainly doesn’t like. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like it. And it’s those times when I feel the least bit like loving in that practical kind of way, that I need to pull out that watering can and do it anyway. Not because I have to, but because I choose to.
Because every single time I choose to cultivate my marriage, every time I water that plant of Love, I find that the doing really is every bit as sweet as the saying (and the hearing). And those dirty socks on the floor? I’m thankful that I have someone to pick up after, and there’s no way that I want to let a few dirty socks and a couple sweaty t-shirts steal any of the beauty and joy and happiness that sharing and cultivating our love brings to our home each day.