Ten years ago I said, “I do” to a boy 4 months younger than me. I know, 4 months is practically nothing, right? But, he would tell you, “Because of those 4 months, when you are 80, I’ll only be 79!”

Ten years ago I naively promised to leave behind country, family and home to join forces with him. Ten years later I am starting to understand what I committed myself to.

A potjiekos amalgamation of curious corners of the world, accents, travel bugs, blond-haired boys, snickers bars, really great kissing, hobbit feet, cowboy eyes, libraries of books, baseball cards, an unshakeable loyalty to the Detroit Lions, and laughter. Oh my yes, the laughter. The belly-aching, gut-shaking, head-in-hands laughter between friends who just get each other’s brand of funny. He so gets me. Even when it’s just bodily-functions-related humor. No, make that especially when it’s just bodily-functions-related humor.

He gets why I cry at a good commercial and can weep through a good book – even when it’s the 23rd time I’ve read it. He gets how I am shaped by where I come from and how I want to learn from where I am. He gets what motherhood means to me and simultaneously understands my sense of calling to work into other areas of life as well.

He gets me because he has worked at it.

He has traveled from one corner of my country to the other. He has visited with my far-flung relatives and made conversation even when he couldn’t understand their accents. He has (GASP) eaten eel soup, raw pig’s fat and dried calamari (although Ukraine is more to credit with that than me). He has flown, trained, bussed, taxied and driven across countries with me. He has been to plays, films and opera houses because he was coming with me. And if memory serves, he once agreed to a mud mask because of me.

He is just so doggone fun!

But he has also sat quietly and listened when I wept over loss of home and family. He has moved mountains to make up for it and offer seasons of reconnection. He has sacrificed time and sanity to shore up my memories of home.

He is just so freaking great!

I have loved him because, up, over and through things I never could have imagined the day I married him. I have loved him uphill and down. Through valleys so pitch black I couldn’t see to put one foot in front of the other. I have loved him even when I didn’t like him very much. But I have stuck stubbornly to my guns and loved him because of the one who gave him to me. Because I believe that, “a deal’s a deal” and we made a deal, way back on that summer day before my second year of law school. We made a deal to stick with each other through the good, bad and ugly.

A decade later I think we have seen pretty much that whole gamut. And I’ll be if it isn’t better now than I ever would have hoped then. Better because even when it got hard, we stayed.

Right now, it’s just plain beautiful.

Beautiful to watch him watch our boys. Beautiful to see how carefully and deliberately he parents them. Gorgeous to witness their tackle fests, flying feet and flailing limbs all tangled up on our bed. Shouts of, “daddy!” echo in our house and he is hero, leader and king to his little boys. I love being on his team.

Pete, if they grow up to be even a fraction of the man you are, they will live to be men of integrity indeed.

I love you. Now, bring on the next ten.

Ten years