This article about my husband, Dan, was published in 2007. Here's a rerun in honor of our upcoming 23rd wedding anniversary on November 17:
I married my former husband two weeks after turning 20. He was outgoing and a good provider who shared household duties, but we were emotionally incompatible which affected every aspect of our relationship. Our children suffered through years of conflict. We divorced after 19 years of marriage. I felt numb and had no plans to marry again. A few awkward dating experiences reinforced this choice. I liked the single life.
Some time later, a friend asked me to help her family move to their new home. Unbeknownst to me, she invited her brother-in-law, Dan, to help too. I showed up in baggy shorts, a dirty shirt, and no makeup. It was 90 degrees and humid. Sweat dripped off my nose and flattened my hair as we packed and carried boxes.
Imagine my surprise when Dan called a couple of weeks later and asked me out on a date. I accepted with expectations of another disappointment. We went to the movies (“When Harry Met Sally”), then on to a restaurant. While we waited for our food, Dan asked questions about my job, goals, family, and feelings about life in general. I relaxed upon realizing he had no hidden agenda. He looked into my eyes and seemed to hang on every word. He was unearthing the real me, someone even I didn’t know. We stayed at the restaurant until closing time discussing our families, childhoods, and past loves.
Dan drove from the restaurant to the lake. We held hands and walked to the boat docks. There were no awkward pauses in conversation. When we reached the end of the pier, he kissed me for the first time. I’ll never forget the glow of the lights on the water, the sound of the waves, and the feeling of being myself and totally accepted for the first time in my life. It was electric. I knew that night that I would marry Dan (although he didn’t come to that realization until months later :)
It is ironic that my first husband had the qualities I grew up dreaming of in a mate. Dan had almost none of those qualities, but his innate goodness and wisdom swept me off my feet. We had a long-distance relationship and only saw each other on weekends until we married a year later.
Dan had never been married and had no children. My three (ages 16, 11, & 10) welcomed him to our home in the same way the lions welcomed the biblical Daniel. Like Daniel, Dan never blinked. His firm yet loving nature eventually overcame their hostility. His great sense of humor saved my sanity and ultimately won the kids over. I wrote these words to chronicle my feelings about him back then:
Dan is a carpenter who does not make much money,
but he builds my self-esteem.
Dan spends more time reading than doing chores,
but he drops everything to hear my thoughts.
Dan is the smartest man I know,
but also the humblest.
Dan does not care how he looks and hates to shave,
but his inner beauty shines through.
Dan does not bring me flowers,
but he showers me with kisses and compliments.
Dan does not stand out in the crowd,
but he listens intently and learns from everyone he meets.
Dan is agnostic,
but he loves unconditionally.
Dan refuses to lie,
but he has no enemies.
Dan is a man of few words,
but he speaks from the heart.
Dan takes me seriously,
but he makes me laugh.
Dan is a fisherman and sportsman,
but he is a pacifist.
Dan is the strongest man I know,
but also the kindest, gentlest and tenderest.
Dan’s smile makes me feel warm and secure.
Looking into his eyes, I catch a glimpse of heaven.
Those sentiments still ring true. Dan’s objectivity is a compass that guides me. When I developed health problems last year, he encouraged me to let go of my high-paying job. Dan knew that the workplace had become toxic, and that the cruelty and chaos there was destroying me. It was a difficult decision. Dan shepherded me through the process. I resigned, regained my health, and secured a great part-time job that is both challenging and rewarding. Shedding years of stress brought additional bonuses: the inspiration to write again and to paint.
I’ve heard that joy can only fill one’s cup as deeply as sorrow has hollowed it. Dan and I have faced many crises during our 16+ years of marriage including bearing and burying a daughter. On the bright side, we added another son and seven grandchildren. My cup of joy is deep and overflowing. God blessed me with a soulmate . . . the second time around.