It Took a Stranger to Remind Me How Much I’m Loved

romantic couple in love at Christmas

It’s typical of my husband and me to recount the events of our days with each other as we prepare dinner. Last night was no exception. He began sharing that a woman had inquired about me during a networking event he hosted earlier that day. I asked who it was and he mentioned he didn’t think we’d met before. This caught my attention immediately and I’m almost certain I physically reacted with a noticeable pause and a quick head turn.

Questioning the State of Affairs

Why was a stranger asking about me? Was she fishing for info on the state of affairs in our home? Well, sort of. Truthfully, it was a much more innocent encounter.
Because my travel schedule does tend to generate a good amount of interest, he thought maybe her question was curiosity on where I would be traveling next. He went on to tell her the new projects I’d been working on and briefly mentioned the next few travel adventures.
As he wrapped up the dialogue, the woman offered a lovely compliment. Although we had never met in person she “imagined me to be an amazing woman”. My apprehension was put at ease and was flattered. I indicated with a playful side glance in Randall’s direction that it was in his best interest to agree, which he wholeheartedly did.


What she said to him next reminded me just how genuinely loved I am.

“I love asking you about your wife because, although you can’t see it from your perspective, you stand up a little taller, your expression relaxes and your eyes sparkle when you speak about her. You can’t help but smile when you say her name and when you talk about all that she is doing. It’s a genuine pleasure to hear a husband be so proud and supportive of the work of their spouse. I ask you about her because it lifts me up too.”

Stunned. Humbled. Honored.


Perhaps this story would have been better suited for Valentine’s Day or an Anniversary. Honestly, I didn’t want to write a Valentine’s Day story about much of anything this year. I was feeling robbed because we both worked instead of celebrating. I wasn’t a very good sport about it.

I love silly, romantic holidays. Not because I need an excuse for flowers or a date night. I recognize that I’m lucky to be loved in those ways a majority of the year as well. I just love Valentine’s Day in the same way I love Thanksgiving. It’s not that I’m ungrateful the rest of the year but I think of Thanksgiving as a day to be intentional about aligning your thoughts and actions with all the blessings you’ve been given. That’s exactly how I feel about Valentine’s Day too. Aligning my thoughts and actions with love for those closest to me.

I think I’d just been in a little bit of a funk since then- a series of other factors were also in play contributing to the funk (more on that in an upcoming post). What I didn’t expect was that a complete stranger would pop into our story to change all that with a few words and a reminder to us about us how important is that we love one another out loud.

Loving one another isn’t just about fleeting moments of intimacy and words of adoration. It’s about how we love one another with our whole selves; our thoughts; our expressions and posture; the way we speak of one another, especially when they aren’t in the room.

Being that I’m on leave for 11 straight days of travel, those words from a stranger couldn’t have had better timing reminding me how much I am loved.

Autonomy Makes Our Marriage Work

Chases in the Snow #SorentoFamily

One of my goals this year was to become a better writer. This summer I decided I would be writing something every day. Every.Day.  With kids out of school, moving to new places, traveling for summer vacations, it’s harder than it sounds. I suppose most things worth committing yourself to are. I haven’t necessarily published every day but I have been writing every day. I’ve also been reading more too. It helps to see what others are writing. The practice is good, the introspection better. So far I’ve learned a lot about myself and I feel I’ve been able to contribute more value to conversations with others as well. One recent conversation with my husband turned into a conversation discussing how keeping a certain amount of autonomy in our marriage has been part of the success.

We just celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary June 21st (the first official day of Summer and International Gnome Day, for those of you who keep track of things like that). I had just read an article shared by several respected friends who have all been married long over a decade or more. The article focused on the element of happiness in marriage and evaluating what marriage will cost you beyond the wedding day itself. It’s claims of sacrifice talked about much more than giving up half the closet space or letting someone else decide what would be on the dinner menu that night. I think we could all agree that marriage, along with most relationships, is full of compromise, but I completely disconnected when the author said “it will cost you yourself.”

I disconnected immediately but that statement still bothered me for days. I couldn’t reconcile why this piece resonated for so many others and felt so abrasive to me. I spent more time than I should have thinking about it and finally it occurred to me.

After fifteen years, the thing that has kept us together is allowing each other to be different. Autonomy makes our marriage work.

One of the things I have appreciated every day of our marriage relationship is the element of autonomy for both of us. Uniting in marriage has never required that either of us give up who we are as individuals. As we’ve gotten older and more mature we’ve changed certainly but not given up our individuality.

au·ton·o·my
noun: autonomy
  • the right or condition of self-government, especially in a particular sphere.
  • freedom from external control or influence; independence.
    synonyms: self-governmentself-rulehome ruleself-determinationindependencesovereigntyfreedom

     

Autonomy doesn’t mean that we are in an open relationship or that either of us have an “I do what I want” attitude with the other ( although I am known to jokingly reply with that on occasion.) We don’t typically ask the other to refrain from saying or doing something because we are adults capable of self-regulating and making their own choices. That’s how adulting works.

Autonomy Means We Won’t Always Agree

What autonomy in marriage does mean is that we have a mutual respect to allow one another to hold a difference of opinion on religion, politics, parental topics, who makes the best tacos, favorite IPAs and career choices. We don’t always agree. In truth, it’s our different perspectives that have made our relationship so intriguing and appealing from the beginning.

We don’t always agree but we ALWAYS communicate intelligently and respectfully. We allow one another to hold different opinions and can entertain discussions with each other without trying to convert the other. We communicate to understand and not change. Perhaps through various dialogue one of us will deliver a statement that opens up a point of view the other had not considered. Maybe not. Either way, allowing each other independence in opinion and thought continues the balance of equality that drew us to want to spend so much time together in the very beginning. This translates in how we choose to work together and make decisions in our life.

The article I was so bothered by positioned the “sacrifices” you must make in a marriage. I call those just being a decent human. If a person isn’t exemplifying that type of behavior from the very beginning I don’t want to commit to coffee with them much less a lifetime. Maybe that’s just me but I’m glad to be in a relationship with someone who lets me be me. We appreciate each other and don’t ever ask one another to play small or give up any part of ourselves. It works for us and I’m betting that we’ll be good at this gig for at least another 15 years.