November 2-3, 1970
As we moved into the month of November, Nate and I were closing in on our first anniversary. After 11 months of marriage, neither of us could imagine living without each other. And we talked about how life would seem empty if that ever happened.
I loved many things about my husband that I’d learned during our first year together, but one of my favorites was his willingness to talk to me. Whether it was a report on my day with the kindergarteners or a discussion of more serious matters, he was all-in on every conversation.
Through the year I’d thought about our marriage a great deal and had figured out what Nate needed most from me, recording it in my journal:
I was learning from Nate’s sterling example of building me up and hoped to build him up the same way. He never tired of encouraging me and found creative ways to do so. For instance, he had established a tradition of buying one rose for me every Friday afternoon, knowing I would arrive home tired after a busy week. Each rose (a different color every time) was garnished with a fern or a sprig of wild flowers and put in a vase — with a loving note propped against it.
I enjoyed the flowers but much more so the notes. He put creativity and thought into each one, and they served to bind us tightly together week after week.
Following his example, I began writing love notes, too, using contemporary cards. It was fun finding places to hide them around the apartment where I knew he’d find them while I was at school.
One evening as we sat in front of a fire with a Carpenters album playing on the stereo, Nate asked if I loved teaching kindergarten in Danville as much as I’d loved it in Chicago.
I thought for a minute and then said yes, following that with a list of reasons. But as I talked, a fresh truth came to me. Though I loved my job and would have done it for free, during our first year of marriage a major shift had occurred. From the journal:
I love it as much as before… but the most exciting part of my day now comes when I turn my key in the 3rd floor apartment door on Healey street and that handsome blonde person is there to grab and kiss!
My love for teaching had been pre-empted by my love for Nate.
As delightful as my students were, they had been demoted. And as good as it was to be teaching them, life was even better when I was with Nate.
As I put that change into words for him, his responsive smile told me I’d inadvertently done what he had so often done for me. I’d built him up. And it felt good to both of us.
“A word in season, how good it is.” (Ecclesiastes 10:12)