Today is my favorite day of the year. Three years ago, we walked down the aisle and promised to love each other forever. Three years later, I can't believe how much has changed. I thought I understood what people meant when they said that you change when you get married. I thought it was a bad change, that you slowly lose yourself and who you are. I think, after 3 years, I actually understand that the change that happens isn't a bad thing to be avoided. The change that happens is actually a sharpening, making you get a better sense of your own strengths and weaknesses, and recognizing that the reason you are changing is because your partner makes you better. I am amazed at how much of a better person I am because I got married to you. Let's take a walk down memory lane through my favorite love story:
We got married in Michigan with our family and friends by our side. Despite the POWER GOING OUT 2 hours before the ceremony, I thought our day was perfect. I'm so proud of how we just laughed it off, even though we could have freaked out. We just changed the plan and had fun! We danced through the heat, laughed, twirled and left to go to Mexico.
Our honeymoon was awesome! We snorkeled on the coral reefs, 4 wheeled through the jungle, swam in caves and zip lined! We lay out on the beach and drank all the cocktails. We relaxed and lived like kings and queens.
Back to reality, we moved into our very first apartment. It was 2 bedrooms and less than 800 square feet, but it was our first little home. You started your second year of grad school, I started my second year of teaching first grade. Meanwhile, I was growing a business in the tiny corner of our spare bedroom. You stood with me as I launched my photography business, supporting me when I was crushed with doubt that I could ever be a small business owner. Your belief in me never wavered.
After 6 months, we combatted the "once you get married you let yourself go" sterotype by getting super healthy. Granted, I started first :) But after a while you joined me in launching new health habits. We were the healthiest we had ever been. While we are a few pounds heavier now, our lifelong habits for health are extablished and you never fight me in my emphasis on healthy eating and exercise.
We end the year with a summer of fun! we celebrated our first anniversary by going to Cedar Point and playing hard!
Year 2 was probably our year of biggest transition! It was your final year of Seminary, and your professors and classes really pushed you. Your theology and Christian beliefs were challenged, and in your words, you had to "tear it all down in order to be built back up". During that time of redefining what being Christians meant, we had many, many, many, many long talks about life, theology, God, life meaning, purpose and what we wanted in life. Sometimes we fought, sometimes we agreed, but at the end of the day we loved each other more.
Meanwhile, I was having a challenging year myself. After attempting to do three different jobs at once and not setting up healthy boundaries, I had a bit of a breakdown. That was another period of "shaking it all down" so that I could redefine what was important to me and come out the other end wiser and more whole. During that time you never pushed me to just "suck it up". You loved me on days when I just sat at home, and you loved me on days that I went a million miles a minute. I could always talk to you, cry to you, and you didn't make me feel like a failure for quiting something I felt passionate about.
While all this was going on, you had what was supposed to be a 5 month internship at the hospital that changed the whole plan. You didn't want to be a pastor anymore, you wanted to be a hospital chaplain and help the broken and sick. You graduated and applied for a residency position and got it!
Meanwhile, my business was growing and you where totally supportive when I was traveling for photo shoots for Valentines Day AND our 2 year anniversary. I had the luck of shooting a couple in Paris, France for Valentines Day and arrived back from Italy on our anniversary and was totally jet lagged. We didn't do anything outside of eating out on our anniversary, which was okay because we had gotten tickets to HAMILTON instead!!!
Year 3 is when things settled down a little bit. We had both come out the other end of our respective life crises as different people but better people all the same. We had learned how to love each other in a way that was deeper and stronger than it had ever been.
The best thing that happened in year 3 was we rescued our cute little snuggly cat. We named him Flynn Eugene Fitzherbert Bowen, which proved to me that you really did love me. He nestled his way into our hearts. At first I was upset that our first pet wasn't a dog, but we soon discovered that Flynn thought he was a dog, greeting us at the door, wanting to play, and always wanting our attention. He was the best little dog-cat we could have asked for.
We moved to Indianapolis, which wound up being a great move for us. We still live in a tiny apartment, but at least it's by lots of things to do. We spent the year trying new restaurants, going out dancing, and, on nights that you got to choose the activity, plan board games :)
We spent the holidays in Michigan with my family and then went back home to your family afterwards.
During the last year or so we had committed our selves to getting debt free. While it is taking much longer than we were hoping, we managed to pay off the car debt (about 8,000 in one year!) which meant we got a reward- Disney World!
We had originally planned on honeymooning at Disney, but weren't able to afford it at the time. So this year we indulged in every spoil that I could have wanted. You never judged me as I skipped through the park happy as a little school girl or cried when I met the princesses (true story!) We dined at Be Our Guest Resturant and in Cinderella's Castle! And you indulged me in an early morning photoshoot in the parks and now these are my favorite photos of us ever to exist!!
And now here we are, on the precipice of year 4. Year 4 will contain more changes. Your residency ends soon and you will have to start job hunting again. I will continue teaching and running my growing business. We are headed to Chicago in a few days to celebrate our 3 year anniversary and I can't wait!
All this to say, Dylan, I made the best choice I could have ever made 3 years ago when I promised to love you forever. You are so worthy and deserving of that promise and have proved yourself time and time again to be the best person I could have ever chosen.
Thank you for loving me like the verb, not the feeling, every day. I will continue to love you and cannot wait to see what year 4 brings.