Aaron and I have the image below hanging in our bedroom, and every time I walk by it, I remember…
I remember him holding me close as the world softly faded away in the background when we shared our first dance as husband and wife. I remember feeling calm, peaceful, and in love. I remember why I won’t walk through life with anyone else but him. I remember how we fit so perfectly together. I remember how he makes me laugh and how he’s brought out the best in me.
Last week, on August 15th, Aaron and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. An entire decade has gone by in the blink of an eye! So today, I want to share our story with you and where it all started. Heads up, this post is going to get a little long, but please stay with me until the end!
So many people are shocked when they find out that we never really dated before getting engaged. Sounds pretty crazy right?!
We first met in middle school, but didn’t become friends until high school. It was my 9th grade year, Aaron’s 10th, and we both ran track. Although Aaron was quite the athlete, he didn’t run much during practice (he was pretty much just on the track team to keep in shape for soccer). Instead, he lounged on the pole-vaulting mat and watched me run by, or so he says. The entire season, I watched him watching me. He still looks at me with the same sweet grin!
It wasn’t until my 10th grade year that he started trying to court me. He was already driving at the time and we finally planned a date – Longhorns followed with a stroll through Media Play where we unexpectedly bought the same CD. Yes…we used to buy our music in stores back then! Do they even still make CDs?
From then on, we practically did everything together. We attended concerts, went to each other’s family functions, the beach, parties – you name it! Wherever I went, he went. We were BEST FRIENDS. We even went to his senior prom together and he arranged for a horse and carriage to take us! He was and still is a hopeless romantic!
Although we both were in and out of relationships (well, mostly me), we still stuck by each other.
I knew early on that I would marry him one day, but I wasn’t ready to start dating him early on because I wasn’t ready to be tied down. My parents kept telling me that I was crazy and that if I didn’t move quickly I would miss my opportunity. They continuously reminded me that Aaron wouldn’t wait around forever. I even recall a time that my dad told Aaron that he was too great of a guy to be lead on by me.
After I graduated high school in 2002, we weren’t in touch as often. We were both in relationships, but reconnected a year later when I emailed him and asked him if he wanted to grab dinner.
The Ashley and Aaron team was back together and we picked up right where we left off…him trying to court me and me not being ready. In the few years that followed, I told him that I would know when I was ready to settle down and I would let him know. He trusted me and continued to wait. I honestly knew that I would feel it in my heart and I prayed for him to wait.
In the summer of 2008, we had a Saturday cookout planned with friends. When I woke up that morning, it’s as though God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “It’s time.”
When I arrived at the cookout I had the worst case of butterflies! Aaron was already there and came walking up to my Jeep to greet me with a hug. He could sense that something was a little different and asked if I was ok. I knew it was time to confess. I pulled him to the side, wrapped my arms around his neck, and whispered in his ear, “I’m ready.” He knew exactly what it meant and gave me the biggest hug you’ve ever seen!
A couple of weeks later, we were shopping for rings. I had no idea when he would propose, but I was anxious and excited!
In November of 2008, we made our annual trip to the Colonial Cup Steeplechase in Camden, SC. Most of my family came so I was a little suspicious, but didn’t dwell on the thought. As the event was coming to an end and the big race had finished, we wandered across the finish line. We weren’t even two steps across and I could feel Aaron’s hand trembling – I got nervous.
When we reached the midpoint of the finish line, Aaron pulled me around and dropped to his knee in front of HUNDREDS of people.
We always had a saying when either of us would ask the other a serious question, “On one condition.” That one condition was a kiss. So what do you think I said to his proposal? Through my tears I replied, “On one condition.” Technically, I never said, “YES!”
We planned our wedding for August 15, 2009 and the day couldn’t come soon enough! We got married at West Point Farm in Rutherfordton, NC and it was truly the most incredible day of my life! Fun fact: Mary McDaniel, with Salon Palazzo, did my bridal and wedding hair and then my hair for our 10 year anniversary session! I felt like I was getting married all over again!
Fast-forward over 10 years and here we are! Aaron still leaves me little love notes around the house and, to this day, he has never missed a morning text to tell me he loves me and hopes I have a good day! I really have no idea how I got so lucky to have such a kind, patient, intelligent, hard working, loving, and thoughtful husband (and let’s not forget smokin’ hot)! Even in high school, he was an old soul that was full of wisdom.
We have never missed a “please” or a “thank you” and always take time each evening to just sit and talk about our day or our plans for the future (we occasionally retell stories from the past and they get more hilarious with time)! We have always gone to bed at the same time and have only spent one night apart since we got married. Whoever gets ready for bed first will always fix the other’s toothbrush and he even still races me to wash the dishes.
Aaron has always put his own needs and wants last to make sure I was happy and taken care of. Yes, we get on each other’s nerves every now and then, but we have never had an argument (minus the occasional disagreements) and we have never raised our voice at each other. Being best friends for so many years before getting married certainly has something to do with it, but our backgrounds have taught us to respect your spouse and love them unconditionally.
Love is a choice and I will always choose YOU.
This is why I so strongly believe that every couple should have an anniversary session for those milestone years. The session itself is a time to reconnect and the images remind you why you’re doing this together.
So when the tough times hit your marriage (like they do for everyone), when things get crazy, or when life takes over … you will remember.
If kids come along and the two of you start to get lost… you will remember.
If you’re celebrating something like a one-year, five-year, ten-year, or fifty-year anniversary, you will never forget the joy. If your love is stronger than ever and you have built a marriage that you’re proud of… you will document it for your future generations.
If your grandkids get married and they see that your marriage was something special and beautiful, they will always remember where they came from.
So that you will always remember what truly matters most – the two of you.
He’s my lobster.
It’ll be fun to see who gets that. 🙂