Aug 10, 2007

Our Tenth Anniversary: Marriage Milestones

Traveling Companions

On our first Valentine's Day as a couple, Babs gave me my favorite greeting card that I've ever received. On the cover was a watercolor print of a couple in a red convertible driving on a winding road that ran from the front cover through the trifold inside. The road was lined with signs that said things like Lovetown, West Fork of the River of Love, and Sweet Nothings. Babs had written in on the signs names of places that were meaningful to us--where we were living at the time (Berrien Springs), places we'd come from (Centerville, Florida), and places we hoped to go together (Africa, Bali). She'd written in the road the words "Finding God" and the last sign on the inside of the card read "Highway 2 Heaven." Underneath that she wrote "Yeah!" The text of the card read "Valentine, we could go places together." The card utterly charmed me. It was so joyous, so hopeful, and captured so much of Barbara's sweet spirit. I liked the idea of being on a journey with her, finding adventure, being led by God.

Well, we've been on that journey for ten years now and I'm still feel lucky and blessed to be traveling with the woman who mapped the trip out for us in that card.

On Friday, July 27, 2007, Babs and I celebrated ten years of marriage. I've been with Babs for about a third of my life now, and I can't imagine living without her. Simply put she is my best friend.

The road has been a winding one, full of scenic vistas of unimaginable romantic beauty; straightaways where we floored it, and let the wind blow through our hair, racing on joy; surprising twists and turns. It's been bumpy at times--moments where we disappeared into dark tunnels, not sure when or if we'd emerge. But, so far, it's been an amazing ride, and I can't wait to see what the next 10 years on the road of life hold for us.

Some milestones from our journey:

Year 1: The Little House on Walnut Street. Our first year of marriage we lived in a tiny two bedroom apartment on the second floor of an eighty-year old house on Walnut Street, just a stones throw from the Andrews University campus. It had been Barbara's apartment, and I simply moved in. It was in that cozy little place with it's wood floors, antique furniture, and clawfoot bathtub, that we learned to live together. The house is gone now--the entire block bulldozed by the university to make room for the new Howard Performing Arts Center. Somebody probably plays cello over the very place where we used to sleep. But the most important thing--the love that lived there-remains.

Year 2: Saipan--A Whole New World. The first of the big adventures, Babs and I crossed the world to find ourselves on this tiny little patch of green in the great blue Pacific. . .Saipan. We moved into the apartment now known as the "Girl's Apartment" back when that pink carpet was still bright new and extra flamboyant. We dove into our work as first year teachers and missionaries.

Years 3 & 4: The Amway Years. Yeah, we "did Amway"--or Quixtar, as it is now known, for a few years. Friend of ours drew us in and for awhile we were "fired up!", buying the visions of "achieving our dream" and "going diamond!" Ain't it great! Well, not exactly. In the end, it just wasn't for us. But while we never did get unbelievably rich in two to five years, we did make some nice friends as a result, and we had something that we could work on together for awhile. Those nights coming back from "showing the plan" felt like little dates. That was wealth enough for me.

Year 5: The Breakthrough. Halfway through our first decade was a turning point for us in our marriage on many different levels. That year was definitely one of our hardest, but it ended up also being one of our most rewarding as well.

Year 6: Babs Takes Charge. As we approached our sixth Christmas as a married couple, the principal of the Saipan SDA School quit suddenly. In short order, Barbara was the new principal of the school. It was a year of great change as we adjusted to her new role. From here on it, she would not only be my wife, she'd be my boss as well!

Year 7: Marriage Encounter. Probably the decision that has had the single greatest impact on our married life, was the one to go to a Marriage Encounter weekend. M.E., as we call it, completely changed the way we approached our marriage. We've stayed involved with the M.E. community ever since, encouraging other married couples to do the weekend, so they can too can experience the immeasurable benefits we gained.

Year 8: Puttin' on the Ritz. One thing that really stands out about our 8th anniversary was our splurge at the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, California. Every couple of years, we try to pull out all the stops for our anniversary at places like the La Valencia in La Jolla, California and the Windward in Guam. But our two days in the lap of luxury at the Ritz beat them all. A lot of the time it's easy to take your marriage for granted, to let the humdrum of everyday life take over. It's good to have those "Ritz" moments where you are reminded again of the priceless value of what you have together.

Year 9: Passionate Marriage. The book by this title by Dr. David Schnarch probably had the second greatest impact on my ideas about marriage (M.E. being the first). During our ninth year together, I read this book and started trying to apply what I learned. That's the thing about marriage--what they don't tell you in the Hollywood movies and radio songs--it takes work. Anybody who thinks it's "silly" to take time to learn how to make your marriage better probably isn't married. At nine years in, Babs and I were still aware that we had plenty of growing to do as a couple.

Year 10. And here we are. We've pulled over, one of those Scenic Spots where you're supposed to stop and take a picture or two. We've looked back at that long and winding road we've traveled so far, and now it's time to go. I look at her, her green eyes, brown curls, bright smile . I take her hand, and she gives me a little squeeze. And with that we pull back on to the road, turn up Mat Kearny, and journey on.

Ten down, and a lifetime to go.

At the Hau Tree Lanai. For our 10th anniversary, we checked into the Aqua Palms and Spa near Waikiki for two nights. After getting settled in our hotel room, we headed out for dinner at the unique and romantic restaurant, the Hau Tree Lanai where we had reservations. The entire beachside restaurant is set up underneath this massive old tree, that the guidbooks tell us, Robert Louis Stevenson once ate under.

The View from our table.

The face I fell in love with.

A shot of the Hau Tree Lanai dining area, taken after dark, just as we were leaving.

Sabbath morning, July 28, 2007, the day after our anniversary we kicked back on our hotel balcony in our matching hotel robes and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of olive bread, cheese, yogurt, and other goodies before heading off to church.

Saturday night, July 28, Waikiki Beach. Around sunset, Babs and I took a walking tour of Waikiki (having learned the hard way last year that driving in Waikiki on a Saturday night is a fools errand. Plus it's way more fun seeing Waikiki on foot, hand in hand with your favorite girl). It was really nice--the sort of thing that we haven't done in a long time. Walking together with no schedule and not a care in the world. We ended up eating at Cheeseburger in Paradise and postcard shopping in the International Market before heading back to our hotel.

Waikiki Twilight

Come on and we'll sing, like we were free
Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us
--Mat Kearny


Mai said...

That was very well put together. I enjoyed reading it. Congrats on this milestone in your marriage. And I wish you blessings on all the ones to come!

Bev said...

Happy Anniversary you two crazy love birds! Sounds like an amazing journey you two have been. Praying for you guys as you journey on! cheers to new adventures together=)

Anonymous said...

Congrats, you stud muffin. I'm super happy for you and pray that your road is filled with exciting stops, fun detours, and lots of highway love. Enjoy.

John Dax said...

Wow! Beautiful story, Sean. Congratulations. Yeah, I remember Waikiki just the way you described it: "it's way more fun seeing Waikiki on foot, hand in hand with your favorite girl." Thanks for bringing me back to that memory of mine. I've been burying it for a couple of months now, but I think it might be time to just appreciate it for what it was.

Ken & Crystal said...

Wow! Great posts. You've covered it all! happy anniversary. Happy "new year". New SM's. Nicely done! That church in Hawaii is nice isn't it? We've been there once. Did you see Jeff Schnoor & Lailani (MaCFadden) there? Just wondering.