Nearly 4 years ago, my sister and I made a pact that if we didn’t have any decent dates before the holidays, we would sign up for eHarmony. At the time, I had recently moved to New Jersey and didn’t really have a local social group. I had also been committed to my health and fitness, having lost the first 50 pounds on the weight loss journey that ultimately was chronicled on this blog. I felt settled in my job, my home and my new (but still improving body) and decided I was ready to start dating again.
Unbeknowst to each of us, we both saw offers for a free communication weekend around Thanksgiving and decided to take advantage of it. I liked it enough to pay the membership fees for a three month subscription.
On December 2, 2007, I saw a profile for this guy named Evan and we started communicating. I liked that he was 6′ tall (very important when you’re a 5’9″ woman who really enjoys wearing a nice pair of heels every now and then) and communicated a sense of passion and energy that was lacking in many of the other profiles I read.
But my favorite part of his profile was this:
The most important thing I am looking for in a woman:
Someone who wants to find that person that brings out the best qualities in myself and vice versa. Some relationships exploit people’s best points and some relationships nurture those best points, and i most certainly prefer the latter. Other than that, someone to explore the world with, either on a daily basis or around the world and cares for me as much as I care for them.
As much as I loved his idea of a healthy relationship (and, mind you, not necessarily an “ideal woman”), I never would have guessed that this philosophy is what has made our relationship so successful.
I’m not sure how long I’ve known that I wanted to marry Evan. I know it certainly wasn’t right away or even in the first year–even though I suspected he was a good catch when he helped me get through a pretty difficult back injury and then surgery. But I know it’s been a long time that I’ve been singing “This is the man I want to marrrrrry!” So long that I’ve been a complete pest when it comes to our engagement. Last spring, I started bugging him to move in with me. We both thought it was important to see if we could live with each other day in and day out–especially with conflicting lifestyles and living 45 minutes away from each other–but we both knew it would be a difficult transition for him as it meant he’d be further from friends, living in an apartment (albeit a really nice one) on a college campus and adjusting to living day in and day out with me.
So he moved in this past August and aside from a few hiccups as we figured out space and stuff and our expectations of each other, it’s been pretty fantastic. I’ve happily adapted to having hundreds of DVDs and t-shirts in the house and he is accustomed to doing the dishes every night and vacuuming every weekend. And that’s coming out of the mouth of a control freak woman who has lived solo for most of the past 15 years. He was a solid partner and constant source of support as I mourned my grandfather’s failing health and ultimately his passing. When I got stuck dealing with late night duty calls and would come home wound up, tired but unable to sleep at 5am, he’d pop in an episode of Life and massage the back of my neck or head until I was relaxed enough to go to bed. When I was super sick this winter and hallucinating because I was getting no sleep, he stayed up with me and checked on me, convincing me to go to a different doctor when the original diagnosis seemed off (it was). And when we realized we were unexpectedly pregnant, a year or two before we were planning on having kids, he rolled with it, helping me stay calm as I thought “Crap. I was really excited for this, but what the hell was I thinking? This baby is going to turn our lives upside down.”
So, of course I wanted to marry him. So much that at least once a week, I’d ask some marriage-related question.
Listen to this… I think it should be the song for our first dance.
Do you have a proposal plan? Really? I don’t believe you.
I know you’re not going to propose to me on my birthday, our anniversary, a holiday or during vacation. So what does that leave for dates?
No, you and your groomsmen can NOT wear tuxedo t-shirts to our wedding!
I admit it. I’m a pain in the ass. All I knew is that he’d be proposing this spring/summer and it would be with diamonds from his grandmother’s ring. (I met his grandma November 2009, when we traveled to Nashville to see her. She was married to Evan’s Grandpa Nick for 60 years before he passed away. And I loved that she still had pictures of the two of them–including some studly beach pics of the two of them in their younger years.)
That said, I should have figured out it was coming.
The week of my birthday I was pouty because I felt like he was avoiding my birthday. We spent the weekend before running errands and having Mother’s Day brunch with his mom, then he worked on my birthday and went out with friends two other nights and even made time to go out to lunch with his mom.
I felt neglected. And told him so.
It turns out, he was getting the diamonds from his mom, picking out rings from a jeweler and telling friends his plan.
A few weeks passed during which I had some of the busiest days at work. Last Tuesday, I worked until midnight doing some projects that needed to be well underway prior to me going on maternity leave. On Wednesday, I had a day-long retreat that was wonderful, but exhausting. I came home half hoping Evan and I could have a quick and easy dinner and then he would go out with a friend he usually sees Wednesday nights, so I could take a bubble bath and go to bed early.
I came home to the smell of food.
Great, I thought. He ate the leftovers. Now he’s not going to want to eat and I’ll have to figure something out on my own.
He greeted me with a big hug and grin and said “Hi honey! Do you smell anything.”
“Yeah… what did you do? Eat the leftovers? I thought we’d have dinner together”
“I made dinner.”
“Yeah right!” I laughed and then put my stuff down and ran upstairs to go to the bathroom, convinced he was joking around.When I came back downstairs, there was a foil-covered 13×9 inch pan on top of the stove, which he said was baked lasagna. I looked for pots and pans. There were some clean ones, but there wasn’t the mess I’d expect from someone whose only cooking experience was making toast or warming up a Stouffer’s pizza.
The table was set and included a tossed salad and homemade garlic cheese bread. At this point, I thought it was odd, but assumed he did it knowing that I had been exhausted from working the extra hours and sleeping poorly due to the baby kicking up a storm and frequent pee breaks. I was kinda in shock.
When we were done, he told me he had dessert. Again, my typical Tina turned on. “But I saved you a cupcake that I made for my work retreat.” He made up some kind of excuse about how that would leave me without dessert and then said he had to go upstairs to get it.
Now… I hate it when we have food upstairs, but I deal with it because Evan’s office is there. And although I thought “whyyyyy did he have to leave food upstairs,” I also realized that there wasn’t room in the kitchen since my cupcake supplies were still out.
So he came down holding a tray of what looked to be chocolate chip cookies. I could see a hint of blue icing, but couldn’t tell what it said. This is the point where I started sensing he might propose.
I wish I could remember his exact words, but he essentially told me that he wanted to thank me for the love and care I put into cooking healthy and delicious meals for him.
And then he laid down the cookies and asked me to marry him:
He decided that the perfect way to propose to me would be to make me dinner in thanks for all of the delicious meals I’ve made for him over the years and a nod to our Top Chef-viewing date nights. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said he’s never cooked before. Aside from stirring some veggies or getting some cooking supplies out for me, he does not cook. Ever. So him taking a risk and making what turned out to be a very delicious meal was so incredibly meaningful. (Worth noting: the recipe has been renamed Engagement Baked Ziti and filed in the recipe collection. It will be made again.)
So now, weeks later, I’m still shocked that he managed to surprise me and I’m thrilled to be marrying the man who makes me laugh, makes me feel better when I’m upset, shares my love of nerdy puns and Boggle and live music and who has incredible creativity, drive, care and passion. He’s the romantic in this coupling–frequently leaving me “just because” notes or filling up the blank space in a greeting card with amazing words describing his love for me (sorry if that makes you lose your street cred, Ev!)–and, as a result, has taught me to love both myself and those close to me just a little bit better.
Like he said he wanted in his eHarmony profile, I think we bring out the best in each other and are good compliments to each other. He will soon make an awesome father and an incredible husband, and I look forward to spending the next 70 years or so with him.