I stand in awe of my husband. Sometimes I stand in frustration. At all times I stand in love.
My husband is an immigrant to the U.S. He is bilingual. He is biliteral. He is bicultural. He has overcome more difficulties than I can imagine. He truly comes from a world that is foreign to me.
Most of the time he seems just like me. White, middle class, educated … and then I see him interact with people from his home country, in their native language, and I am struck by the fact that he lives a dual life of sorts — and that with it he possesses a skill far beyond my understanding. He’s had experiences that I cannot fathom.
Sometimes that duality feels like a wall between us. Other times, I think that maybe I will never run out of things to learn about him.
Embarking on a second marriage is a huge risk. It is scary. Throw six kids into the mix and it is downright terrifying. There is so much at stake in creating a blended family. For those of us who have always dreamed of having a large loving family, but watched that dream die on our first attempt, it is a risk we have to take. I, for one, cannot let that dream slip away without giving my best effort to creating a successful marriage.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 New International Version
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 New International Version
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18 New International Version
Several of my friends who read this will remember how I used to refer to my husband as “the maintenance man” because I didn’t know his name. Yes, I was enamored almost as soon as I met him. And he was unavailable! But a crush on an unavailable man is probably a good thing for a newly single mother.
I met my husband on my move in day at the apartments. I had some ex-family helping me move, but my china hutch was way too heavy to carry to the third floor. His help was enlisted. I followed up the stairs and thanked him profusely for his assistance.
I did not notice his looks. I was not even thinking about men. I did, however, notice his demeanor. Something about him was intriguing. And then there was the way he looked at me.
A couple of weeks after my kids and I moved in he came to repair a few things that needed attention in the apartment. When he arrived, I was in the middle of bringing up my new desk, one piece at a time. I knew the policy that children could not be alone in the units with the apartment staff. However, my toddler was asleep in my bedroom. I asked him if it was ok for me to go in and out of the apartment with him sleeping in there. He looked into my eyes and asked, “Do you trust me?” I gazed back at him and realized that I did. I was stunned because I was normally very uncomfortable around men. But there was something about him. I just didn’t know what it was.
While I was carrying the pieces of the desk upstairs, he surprised me by coming down to my van and offering to bring up the rest of it for me. I was so grateful! He even offered to help me put it together. I didn’t take him up on that because I couldn’t tell if he was hitting on me. More than that though, I didn’t want my kids to be confused by having a man in the apartment.
Fast forward one week.
I was so impressed by his kindness and warm smile that when I had had a particularly rough day, I thought about him. While driving home, I asked God to please make him appear on a balcony across from mine so that I could see his smile. Seriously, I know it sounds silly, but that’s what I asked for. I walked upstairs to my apartment and when I walked by my sliding glass door I saw him. Really! On a balcony across from me! I ducked, went to the bathroom to check my hair, and then tried to look casual when I stepped out onto the balcony to move some boxes. (The balcony was my storage area) He waved and said, “Hi neighbor!” Then he smiled and I was a goner.
My husband and I met where he worked and I lived. I’ve been mulling over how much to share about our history. I’ve concluded that since we are a blended family because of our romantic relationship, more details are better. 🙂
My husband was the maintenance man extraordinaire at the apartment complex I moved to when I left my ex. His duties included collecting all of the dumpsters and depositing the contents into the compactor. My parking space at my single mom digs was located near the trash compactor, so we saw each other a lot. Whenever he saw me he would smile and wave. I usually approached him to chat. There was something soothing and comforting about his demeanor. I enjoyed listening to him talk about his daughters. His fatherly pride and love for them impressed me.
I remember nearly every detail of each of our “chance” meetings. I say “chance” because I would often take my preschool aged son out for a walk, hoping I would run into him. And he reciprocated. Whenever he drove by in the maintenance vehicle he would pull over to talk to me. When I brought my trash out he would declare a smoke break so we could chat. I always made sure that I stood up-wind. It was strange, really. Me, a self-professed germaphobe who gagged at the slightest whiff of cigarette smoke, hanging out by open dumpsters to talk to a cigarette smoking man.
He had really caught me.
Next time, I will tell you why.