I don’t mean to brag, but I absolutely love my engagement ring.
I’ve worn it almost every day for the last two and half years, and I still feel excited every morning when I put it on. The ring is elegant and simple with just the right amount of bling, and I get tons of compliments for it. However, the best part of my ring has always been the symbolism and thought that my husband put in to proposing to me with it.
Thomas took me to one of the most beautiful places on earth to ask me to be his wife. (Full disclosure: since we live in Hawaii, he just had to drive me to the west side of the island to watch the sunset. Still, it was a truly beautiful evening.) Despite the setting being perfect, however, there was an element to his proposal that was inescapably bittersweet. Our journey from college sweethearts to that moment on the beach had been a hard one, and we knew that deciding to get married would only create a new set of unique and difficult challenges. He took the gravity of the decision into consideration as he prepared to ask the question.
Thomas and I had very different backgrounds going into our relationship. We grew up in completely different places, worshiped in different churches, and were focused on some pretty different life goals. There’s a reason that most love stories don’t include a Catholic, Pakistani-Irish-German pre-law student from Eastern Washington marrying a Protestant, homeschooled, first generation college graduate from Hawaii: it was hard to see what our life or family would look like even if we did have a future together. Being together, even as just a dating couple, required a great deal of negotiation and flexibility on our part, and we knew that it was through no small effort that we had kept our relationship going for the first four-and-a-half years that we were dating.
But despite our struggles and differences, our relationship also brought out the very best in both of us. Thomas and I agreed on the core issues that were most important, and we challenged each other to reconsider the issues that were not. Being with Thomas forced me to reevaluate the goals that I was pursuing, the way I spent my time, the reasons I had for making decisions, and the role faith and religion played in my life. I went through a lot of personal changes when I started dating him, but all things considered, they were good changes. Our relationship demanded that we be extremely authentic with each other, and as a consequence we both became more authentic people in all areas of our lives.
So when Thomas made his proposal speech on the beach that night, one of the most important details was that he specifically took the ring out of it’s box before presenting it to me. He knew that the life he was offering me would never fit neatly into the boxes or expectations of my old life. Agreeing to marry Thomas meant that I would be facing some very difficult decisions regarding religion, culture, careers, family, parenting and location. The only way that we could be married was to get comfortable charting a new course for ourselves in many aspects of our lives, and it was clear that we would need an extra dose of courage and creativity in order to be successful. When I said yes to Thomas, we both knew that I was saying “yes” to a life that was going to be “out of the box” in many significant ways.
Hence these days, when I slip my beautiful ring on my left hand everyday before heading out the door, I am reminded of everything that this piece of jewelry represents. I purposely chose a spouse who would force me to live outside of my comfort zone, and my first couple years as his wife have lived up to that expectation. It is not always easy for Thomas and I to be so “out of the box,” and we continue to work hard at figuring out what it means for us. But we also support each other through our challenges and refine each other’s characters through of our differences.
My life with Thomas may not look exactly like the future I had expected when I was younger, but I don’t think I would want it to. I love my “out of the box” husband and my “out of the box” life.
Photo Credit: Asia Anderson