I’ve been infatuated with my husband for 41 years. I’ve loved him for 36 years. We’ve been together as adults for nine years and will have been married for four years this June. 

We have the kind of love that transcends time, transcends other relationships, transcends trauma and past mistakes. 

We have the kind of love cemented in the early years of a young, blissful, forever feeling kind of relationship. It is the love of innocence. It is the long-distance love of longing. It is the kind of love you find yourself coming back to again and again over the years. It is the first love you never forget, the first kiss that makes your heart race.  The first “I love you” ever uttered to another person.

If ever there were two people who had an entire lifetime to live before they could be together successfully, it is my husband and me.

We first met before the internet when phone calls were long-distance, when love letters were sent through the mail and took at least a week before they were ever received. We were eight years old when vacation Bible school brought us together.  We were 13 years old when we first said I love you, when he would sing to me on the phone, when we would sit in my grandparents’ garage and make out like new teenagers. We were 15 years old when long-distance became too hard and both of us were too immature to maintain a relationship. 

But that first love never actually dies.

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We were 40 years old when found each other again. I think of those years we were not together as the in-between time. They were the years of growing up, the years of tried and failed relationships, the years of children. They were the years of growing wiser. 

They were the years of finding ourselves, of learning what we do and don’t want in this thing called life.

We missed all those late teen and 20-something years. We missed the 30-something years. We missed all those formative years when you are selfish and fumbling through life, making mistakes, learning how to live as adults.

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When we found each other again, we were older and wiser. We were beginning to understand what is important in lifewhen partying every night was no longer the preferred activity. We found each other when we were both firmly entrenched in parenthood, in the selflessness that overtakes you when children become your main focus.

He is my rock, the one person in the world who can center me, the man who can cut through all my worry, who makes me feel safe and loved.

He also drives me absolutely crazy and infuriates me the way no one else can. At the beginning of our adult relationship, our fights were explosive. At times we were like oil and water. We had to learn how to be with each other without being overwhelmed by all the teenage angst we once felt and associated with one another.

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We had to learn how to trust in each other. We had to learn how to trust in God. We had to learn that no matter what, it is us. Through thick and thin, through heartache and crisis, through financial worry, through the stress of parenting, it’s us.

We are best friends. We are soul mates. We are family.

What we have is that epic, forever kind of love people ache for, made all the stronger because we know what it was like without each other and we are wise enough now to never let that go.

Jen Riley

Jen Riley is a wife and mother, a writer and photographer. She spends her days managing her family's extensive activities and pouring out her soul in both words and pictures at http://www.jenrileywrites.com and http://www.jenrileyphotography.com