Today marks 19 years since Hot Husband and I started dating.
I was fifteen, he was sixteen, and we had first met a couple of months or so prior, when we started working together in our first part-time Summer jobs.
We were married five years and one day later, aged 20 and 21, after becoming engaged on my 18th birthday.
Reflecting on those numbers, all I can say is that we never FELT that young. The World was at our feet, and we were making PLANS. We would lay out on the trampoline in his backyard, dreaming out loud about the life we would create together; which, funnily enough, included two chocolate Labradors.
We wanted to travel. We wanted to create amazing careers. We talked about how we would set up our home, and whether or not we’d have kids. We talked about buying houses, and saving money, and which city we thought we’d like to live in. We realised, even then, that we were lucky to have found each other. And we took it seriously, right from the start.
I think we knew, in some way, that it wasn’t necessarily going to be easy. Hell, we still had to get through high school before we could even begin this dream life of ours.
But we didn’t care.
Above all else, we wanted to start each day, every day, together. We didn’t really care too much for possessions, or materialistic stuff, but we knew that we just didn’t ever want to be apart. A happy life, for me, was a life with him in it. Everything else was secondary.
As I look back at it now, man, we were babies. Where we got that level of insight and future-planning from, I’ll never know. But, we stuck to it.
If we fought, we fought respectfully. There was no name calling, or vicious words that we couldn’t take back. While our friends were breaking up and getting back together at the drop of a hat, we made a deliberate choice not to do that. I remember a really clear conversation we had, at maybe 16 years old, where we agreed that if we were to break up with each other, then that was that. No back and forth. No breaks. No on-again-off-again. If we were to be together, we were together, and if we chose to end it, then that would be the end of the line for us. It was a deliberate choice to place real value on the relationship, and to this day, despite some tricky times, we’ve stuck to that promise.
When we got engaged, we created a bit of an uproar. My mum thought I must have been pregnant. His brother tried to convince his mum to talk some sense into us. The teachers at school had stern words with me about the no-jewellery policy, when I showed up with an engagement ring. People we worked with told us their personal stories of failed marriages that they attributed to meeting too young and taking life too seriously, too quickly.
“There’s plenty of fish in the sea!” they’d say. “Why not just enjoy being young?”
People expected us to crash and burn, and they told us as much.
But here’s the thing.
We were enjoying being young, together. I didn’t want any other fish. As far as I could tell, I’d already landed a prize catch, and I knew he felt the same.
19 years later, he’s still my favourite fish.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always been smooth sailing. There’s been plenty of difficult times that have had potential to do us harm as a couple, and there’s no doubt that our values have changed over the years, about a number of things.
But, here we are, living the life we used to dream about, against all odds.
I think the most beautiful element of young love is it’s naiveté. It’s awfully easy to fall in love, without the baggage that comes with life experience. Our hearts weren’t scarred by previous hurts, and our expectations had never not been met. We were clean slates, with a love story yet unwritten, and consequently, there was nothing to stop us from going all-in. As we’ve grown up together, I realise now how little we knew back then, but our hearts were true and earnest, despite our youth. We’ve learned about life together, and we’ve grown together, and I can’t imagine having done it any other way.
Happy Anniversary, Hot Husband. You’re a great man, as I knew you would be, and I love starting each and every day with you, just like I said I would.
I chose you then, I choose you now, and I’ll choose you always.