stand by your man–the anniversary edition

fourteen years ago he vowed to be with me forever. to love only me.  he bent down on one knee and placed a pearl bracelet on each of my three girls. he gave his word that he would take care of them and love them as his own.

he’s kept his promise. he’s been loyal and kind. he’s selfless and romantic. he provides and encourages. he pays the bills and takes out the garbage. he cleans the kitchen after meals and saves money so we can enjoy seven holy days on the gulf coast each year. he’s shown me and the girls what unconditional, intentional, selfless love looks like.

the first time i married i was 25. at 25 i guess i was still in that bubble where i assumed “we’d” have forever. i spent the next 5 years having graduating from nursing school, having 3 babies, buying and selling a small business, buying a selling a home and burying my first true love. life’s biggies in 5 short years.

i realize if you’ve read my blog for the last few years you’ve probably heard all that before. & while i never wish to exploit “my sad story” ,  i do wish to share a tiny bit about what i learned. primarily about loving your man. and maybe bottling up what i guess i figured i already knew at 25 but clearly did not.

i look at the marriage i have with dan & am completely aware that the majority of our “success”, if you will, lies in the fact that he is an incredibly good man.  he makes it easy to love him & do all that i’m about to share with you. you can ask my three eldest daughters & they’ll back that up for sure! you’ve probably heard the commercial about being highschool skinny. & while  i’ve clearly not figured that out,  i may have figured out a few ways to be in love like that love you might have felt at 17. all dreamy. hands holding. blushing when he walks in the room. proud to be his girl. can hardly wait until he calls kinda love.

obviously at 47 i’m also aware that some days the laundry and the bills and the “if one more person touches me i’ll go bananas” can be more of a reality than if your man leaves you a love note….but nonetheless….here goes….

 

1. we try to climb in bed together almost every single night. laying down together and talking about our day or just falling asleep on his shoulder can help you feel more like lovers than roomies.  obviously with jobs, meetings, etc that can’t occur 100% of the time, it’s a great goal to strive for.

2.  since we’ve been married, i’ve always worked. either at the hospital or now for myself . so this takes a little creativity and intention. i try to be done with as many chores as possible once dinner is done. i try not to spend the evening in the laundry room while he’s hanging out. i try to turn off my iphone and my computer as early as possible. we usually spend the last hour before we turn in just hanging out together.

3. while i’m not in heels & pearls at 5pm every evening, i do try to freshen up a bit before he walks in. you’ve heard me preach all about the power of lipgloss! do what ya gotta do. being a tad compulsive about neatness this is probably for me as much as him, but i try to be aware of how our home appears before he & the girls blow in. i want our home to be a peaceful respite where they can unwind and relax after a busy day. so, i try to not have laundry all over the kitchen table, bathroooms tidied up, etc by late afternoon.

4.while we women need to feel loved, men need to feel respected. never make him the brunt of your jokes. find sweet ways to thank him for being a provider. i’ve told dan many times over the years he should run a little workshop on how to do what he does so well. the boy mails me letters. like in the mail. with stamps. how cute is that? he’s done that since we began dating. i’ve saved every single one. he doesn’t leave the toilet seat up and he asks me out on a date-weekly. i kid you not. see, i told you it’s all him!

5. on that note, i know it’s hard when the littles are truly little or when you’re breastfeeding, or when you’re so tired from PTA board meetings and tennis practice with the girls, but i strongly encourage you to carve out date nights with just him on a regular basis. for the entirety of your marriage. period. the end. weekend getaways, even better.

6. the best gift you can give those babies truly is giving them the assurance that mommy & daddy are a team. and love each other. and will be there for them.  you go nuts over them, so go nuts over  him. they’ll gag & tell you that is so gross, but they love that you’re in love. they do. email him, text him, hold his hand, write on the mirror, shave your legs, whatever it takes.

7. he needs to come first. if you need to have accountability through your bff, or a mentor mom, or your own mama, then do it. but please make him first. those baby birds will fly the nest before you can utter ” did you brush your teeth?” one more time. and the days of just you two will be here before you know it. believe me, you’ll want that commitment even stronger during those days.

 

having said all that, i am very tenderly aware that there is divorce, there is abandonment, there are men who do not keep promises, there’s men who don’t come home at night so how the heck are you supposed to climb in bed with them if they’re not there. there is being a single mom. there’s sickness, there’s addiction. i realize that you guys could write a book, eloquently no less, on many many more secrets to keeping love alive. there’s wisdom at 67 that i haven’t learned yet.  when gregg passed away, i was only 30 but my heart felt like it had already lived to 80. i did. my desire today was clearly not to be able to touch on every possible issue but simply to share what i’ve learned and how i’m trying to simply live it out . not a day goes by since that easter weekend in the garden, april 3 1999, where i fail to thank the lord for dan. he’s the gift i never dared to ask for….

dan i love you more today than yesterday but not as much as tomorrow!

April 3, 2013 - 8:12 am

Lori H - Such great advice, Paige! We are about to become empty nesters in the fall, so I need to up my game a bit to make sure my honey knows how much I appreciate him!

April 3, 2013 - 8:27 am

simone - You inspire me in so many ways, truly….this was a beautifully written post Paige and I know I’m going to read & re-read it.

You and Dan are a wonderful couple, a great team and a fabulous example….I read your blog and see honesty, reality and happiness. All of which I know you work really hard for.

Happy Anniversary Paige XX

April 3, 2013 - 8:42 am

Ashley - Oh Paige! I just love you and your inspiring words. I’ve told you before how much your story just rocks my world. This post is such a beautiful telling of God’s redemption. I love that he turned ashes to beauty and WOW what a powerful way that he chose to do that. You truly have a gem in Dan and we all celebrate with you and for you. Thanks for continuing to share your heart with us!

April 3, 2013 - 8:53 am

Andrea - Happy, Happy Anniversary!!!! I know what you are talking about when you talk about the “glow” of young love. I just turned 53 and have been with my husband since we were 15 and 16. We will celebrate 33 yrs of marriage on May 2nd. Not all of them have been blissful. I agree with you about “freshening up before you greet your husband. I’ll never understand why someone (male or female) wouldn’t want to look attractive for their spouse. Have you ever posted a picture of you and your first love? I would love to see it. It would be nice to see you and the girls then and now 🙂

April 3, 2013 - 9:06 am

Krissy - Happy! Happy! Paige, you never fail to knock my socks off and say just what I need to hear! You are an inspiration to all! Hope today is romantic and wonderful!

April 3, 2013 - 9:35 am

keri - you have an amazing story and thank you for sharing it with us! God certainly blessed you with an incredible husband– but i know Dan got an amazing, loving, wise, sweet wife in you!! thanks for setting a great example to us. many of the things you listed i know we need to work at! always good to get encouragement for our marriages! its work, but worth fighting for! xoxo!

April 3, 2013 - 10:05 am

D'Nese - By far my most favorite love story– EVER! I’m getting married this April and I can only hope to share something just as wonderful and amazing in our marriage.
Happy Anniversary to you and sweet Dan!

April 3, 2013 - 10:13 am

Cheryl - This is so beautiful it hurts my heart. Enjoy your day Paige!!

April 3, 2013 - 10:17 am

Jennifer - Thank you for the beautiful reminder. My momma always told me early in my marriage when I was adjusting to being a wife and stepmom – that there are other woman out there that would snatch Thomas up in a heartbeat, to treat him right, respect him and love him.
Your words remind me so much of what I watched in my parents. I thought it was so silly that my mom always had dinner waiting for him when he walked in. That she was at the door waiting…now after almost 11 years I strive to be that way.
Prayers for many more blessed years!

April 3, 2013 - 10:17 am

Mimi - Happy Anniversary to you both!

April 3, 2013 - 10:28 am

Jen - oh Paige. I love this post. love.
jen

April 3, 2013 - 10:55 am

Susan - Oh sweet friend…I need the Kleenex now! This is beautiful, and so many women need to hear this. I am going to share on my FB if that’s ok with you. Wish I could give you a big hug! But hey! I can in a few weeks. Y’all have a wonderful day!
Love ya!

April 3, 2013 - 11:00 am

lisa - happy anniversary!! i just loved this entry – and that you are sharing that it is actual WORK ( yes, i said WORK) to be married. not always easy – but always worth it. i’ve always said i love “your dan” and that he’s a good one. i have a great dan too – and you and i are BOTH beyond lucky. i always say marriage is hard enough – even with a great guy ( i thank the lord for prayers unanwered – some of the jerks i dated early on that i THOUGHT i wanted to marry – i can promise you that i wouldn’t still be married if GOD had given me what i thought i wanted at 20!!!)
keep working on that marriage and i’ll see you in 20 more years…both of us still “putting on the lipgloss”!!

April 3, 2013 - 11:24 am

Alecia - Precious, precious, precious. Daring to ask for mine after reading about yours…it’s POSSIBLE!!!

April 3, 2013 - 11:33 am

Jill - Oh, I love the photo of him with the 4 girls! A little foreshadowing for me…. So sweet. 🙂

April 3, 2013 - 12:30 pm

chrissi - happy anniversary♥

April 3, 2013 - 12:56 pm

michele fry - Congratlations!!! Great advice…love that you are working it out every.single.day. It’s a choice!!!

April 3, 2013 - 1:37 pm

Diane - Oh my goodness, love every word you wrote. You and Dan are an inspiration to all of us. And, it proves there are great men in this world who love and care for others.
Happy Anniversary to you and Dan “The Man”!
Love you all,
xoxo

April 3, 2013 - 1:39 pm

Christy - wow! that was great Paige!! happy anniversary and many more 🙂

April 3, 2013 - 1:50 pm

Staci - Simply beautiful 🙂 Happy Anniversary…may you be blessed to celebrate 50 more!!!!! (OR MORE!)

April 3, 2013 - 1:50 pm

Talia - Amen to every.single.word in this post. Beautiful and oh, so very true. All of it.

Happy Anniversary and may you and Dan have many more happy and healthy returns of the day.

April 3, 2013 - 1:54 pm

Ella - Happy Anniversary Paige (& Dan)
I love your story! The most amazing part is how you grew through your challenges and became a more intentional good wife. I hope to utilize your pointers in the future when I get married.

April 3, 2013 - 2:11 pm

Sue - Perfect words for me to hear today – great reminders on keeping our marriage on the “front burner”. Thanks – and Happy Anniversary!

April 3, 2013 - 2:28 pm

tiffini - loved reading a page from your story friend..
always encouraging to read “real stuff”…xo

April 3, 2013 - 2:51 pm

Jackie @ Roots & Wings - Great advice! Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.

April 3, 2013 - 2:55 pm

Sibi - Happy Anniversary to the two of you!

You all are an absolutely gorgeous couple and a Godly example of what a marriage can be. I love the way the two of you honor one another….beautiful!!!

Your love of being Dan’s wife shines through in every word you write Paige! That must make him feel so loved and honored!!

Love you and Dan!!!

xoxo
Sibi

April 3, 2013 - 3:14 pm

Tracey H. - Hope you have a wonderful anniversary!! So precious to read your story!!

April 3, 2013 - 7:34 pm

Jan Fusco - Oh Paige that was so sweet and so true! Great advice. My husband and I,(we have a very strong marriage of almost 19 years), are going through a divorce with our best friends. That is to say, they are separating and yet we feel it so strongly as they are good friends that we spend every weekend with and some weekdays. A lot of changes will happen. It is so hard as it came as such a surprise to the wife. I’m going to print your post out and keep it close to remind me of those words of wisdom you handed out. Love them. God bless you and Dan and happy anniversary to you both.

April 3, 2013 - 8:02 pm

Kerri - Happy Anniversary to you both! I am left speechless by your words! And for me to have nothing to say does not happen to often! XOXO

April 3, 2013 - 9:17 pm

Andrea - Happy Anniversary….and to many more. I love to hear your story…it’s one of love, hope and joy…..I hope you’ll keep sharing it!

April 3, 2013 - 9:47 pm

Amy Avery - Oh happy day to you and Dan! Your love for one another is truly an inspiration! All your beautiful words are so filled with love and truth as you so graciously share the secrets to having a healthy, loving, wonderful relationship. I wish you many more blessed and joyous years together!

April 3, 2013 - 10:06 pm

LLH Designs - I get all misty eyed every time you talk about your husband. I just love it when a woman honors her husband. Inspires me every time! And I love that last sweet thing you said about loving him more than yesterday but not as much as tomorrow. So awesome. Happy anniversary! xo!

April 4, 2013 - 2:05 am

Ibukun - This post got me teary-eyed. Happy birthday to your sweet man, Paige! Top of my list prayer this morning will be for you and your family. X

April 4, 2013 - 8:12 am

Brenda - I don’t comment too much and have been reading your blog for a while. This was a beautiful post. So true about making time for each other, and the importance of “thanking” one another.
You have a beautiful family 🙂

April 4, 2013 - 12:31 pm

erika - love your post! and let me tell you that you sure are a lucky women to have found some so special like your husband but at the same time it takes 2 to make it worked. You also need to give your self some credit for what you both have. happy aniversary to both of you.

April 4, 2013 - 2:29 pm

patty - that choked me up. it’s really in the small, every day things, isn’t it?

happy anniversary!

April 4, 2013 - 3:50 pm

Lemonade Makin' Mama - I so agree with these things. They make such big differences!! I love when you share about your story and the lessons you’ve learned. Considering you my “adopted” big sis, 🙂 I always love the perspective you share. It never fails to bless my heart!

April 4, 2013 - 5:49 pm

Janet Lawson - Happy Anniversary..
Truly a post worth having everyone read what love is..
You are a lucky woman to of found love twice..
Your family is beautiful..

April 4, 2013 - 6:46 pm

kristin - Thank you for showing me and many that marriage can actually be an amazing blessing. Thank you Dan for loving my friend. Thank you Paige for trusting God always, no matter the storm you always have stood in grace and faith that God had you. I have learned so much from you in that area of life! Even if you didn’t pray for the gift of your-Dan, I still to this day remember praying the perfect God given prince for you and your girls. Funny, I remember when I met him after you two started dating, I remember so clearly thinking, “Thank you God! Now there you are my bff’s man, we all have been praying for you to arrive for Paige and her girls. ” And then, in God’s timing, the fairy-tale began. And you truly lived and are living happily ever after. I admire you two much. Then end.

Thank you for the two of you being a true testimony to the real thing, to real best friendship, to real love, to real commitment with God sitting right in the center.

xo

April 6, 2013 - 8:02 am

tara - never get tired of hearing bits of your love story.
you have such a clear perspective after losing someone five years into a young marriage.

soooo thankful for Dan….what a blessing and a true gift from the Lord for you and those girls.

After 17 years of marriage, I can attest that each of those pieces of advice you gave really, truly do matter.

I {heart} you & dan.

April 6, 2013 - 8:24 am

Liz - First of all, happy anniversary!
Second, I love, especially, your #4. I’ve been married 11 years, and my husband and I are wild for each other. At the core of it all, is just that: I respect him, make him feel like he hung the moon, treat him like a MAN. He, very much like your husband, is sweet and attentive, and still tries to court me all the time.
We are so lucky…yes, but we also work at it, everyday.
Congratulations!

April 7, 2013 - 6:58 pm

Mindy - Just discovered your blog and I loved reading your story. And the letters? In the mail? Oh how sweet! Happy anniversary.

April 8, 2013 - 9:53 pm

Jill - Oh, Paige, I always love reading your story! Thank you so much for being so faithful to share with all of us about what God has done in your life. If only I had read all of this before my husband left 🙁 We both got caught up in putting life with a house full of kids before each other — not on purpose… We just let it slip through the cracks of a busy life with busy kids. Your advice is perfect. Your story is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. And happy happy anniversary to you and your Dan!

April 12, 2013 - 8:20 pm

Becky - Oh Paige, I agree and you said it beautifully as you always do.