“Will You Marry Me?” and Other Misconceptions

We were going to Meijer to pick up some hot dog buns for my dad’s cookout, and I knew what was coming. I was almost dreading it. In the car, Ethan put on a very forcibly fake show of being mad at me for some unknown reason. When we arrived at the store, he pulled out the ring, said the four words, hugged me, then walked in to buy hot dog buns. I cried, laughed, and did all the things I was supposed to do, but there was no hiding it- I was disappointed.

Constantly, we’re surrounded with this morphed vision of ‘love’. We see the tall, muscular, super-tan man carrying the 98lb girl out of a burning train on TV. We post screenshots of the “cutest text messages” we get from our significant others online. Marriage proposals to Bruno Mars songs go viral, the Twilight movies become an essential part of American culture. It’s so natural to buy into it all, because what do we all want? We want acceptance. We want to be loved for who we are. We want an immortal someone to watch us while we sleep (uh…definitely don’t understand the vampire thing). We want someone that understands us and protects us. It’s so logical- how can there be anything wrong with wanting to be the person Adam Levine keeps trying to call by payphone?

I was slightly embarrassed when the biggest moment of my relationship happened in a parking lot.

I was so sold on this idea that I needed a huge gesture to prove that my husband loved me. If he wouldn’t do it, did he actually care? Could a man really love a woman if he didn’t post pictures of her with #beautiful on Instagram? While we dated, I waited for the Big Moment, the one that would make clear to me and the rest of the world that his heart longed for no one else. The one I’d look back on and say “THAT’S when I knew I wanted to marry him.” Ethan was fully aware I functioned like this, and he did plenty of nice things for me, but nothing would ever be elaborate enough. I had serious doubts that he wanted to spend his life with me… And as it turns out, I was being rather idiotic.

The love my husband has for me is not dramatic. It’s not flashy. It isn’t bursting at the seams, burning desire, must-scream-from-a-mountaintop love. He doesn’t care about having chiseled calf muscles for me, he doesn’t spend every little extra piece of cash on buying me flowers every Wednesday for the rest of his life. He just isn’t an over-the-top guy; he gets awkward and just blurts obnoxious things about the Federal Reserve if there’s too much pressure on him.

But his love doesn’t ebb and flow. It’s constant. When I’m happy, it’s there. When I’m furious, it’s there. When I need him or don’t need him, when I’m focusing on family or career, when I’ve locked my keys in my car or I’ve made him lunch, it’s there. When we met and I was gushing about how good-looking our college football team’s quarterback was, it was there. When I found out I was pregnant and cried for several days straight, it was there. He never posted cute things to my Facebook. He didn’t shower me with gifts while we were dating. But he was always there, and I know he will always be; it has taken me a bit to realize it, but that is more than what I deserve, more than I wanted. I have a man whose love is consistent and real to me, every day. What more does Ryan Gosling have to offer me?

It’s vital to remember on Valentine’s Day or Sweetest Day or Anniversary Day that love is not defined by magnificent, elaborate gestures. It is best defined by the smallest, most routine ones, like going to work every day or kisses goodbye or calling to say ‘hi’. The little moments that I let go unnoticed often carry with them the promise of endurance, and I would surely see that if I pulled my eyes away from Grey’s Anatomy for five minutes. The declaration of the ring I wear is that there is no endpoint to our relationship; there is only love, always.

Which, looking back, makes our engagement moment just as awesome as anyone else’s. Hot dog buns and all.

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