A Writer and her Psychologist

It began in October of 2002, with tender embraces and lingering caresses; the way we held each other during the incipient stage, is how the branches cleave to their blooms in the autumn.

Don’t let go, they seem to say. Hold on tighter. Just a few days more.

We couldn’t bear to be away from one another, and because of that, often spent countless hours — not to mention tanks of gas — commuting back and forth from Orange to Dana Point, roughly 35 miles separating us.

The nights Michael arrived on my doorstep, well after he should have gone on home to bed, and after a 10 hour shift at On The Border (a Mexican restaurant where he waited tables), were some of the most exhilarating nights of my life.

Pacing the entry way, peeking out the window, checking my phone to see that 2 minutes had passed since the last time I’d looked. And then . . . A flash of light of my driveway and a figure emerges from the oldest Honda Accord on the face of the Earth. The four seconds between the door and his arms felt like an eternity, but eventually I found north. He reeked something fierce of margarita mix and tortilla chips, but did I care? Heck no. He was there and and that’s all that mattered.

The restrictions in my house regarding boys and such were fairly liberal. That may surprise some of you to know; however, as Michael and I had met at the College group of our church, we were striving to uphold certain ideals and standards. That said, we tried mainly to paw each other in the well-lit living room, where any one person was liable to walk by at any moment. I think our hormones had the last laugh. It is my opinion that hormones, like an inheritance, should be something you come into–after marriage. Until then, they just screw everything up.

In my marrow, I  knew this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The only problem was we were 20 years old. And dirt poor.

Michael, a stable lad (that’s stable as in reliable, not equestrian protege) was just beginning his first year of Bachelor studies (that’s Bachelor as in undergraduate work, not a single man investigating the art of playboy-ism). The goal was a master’s degree in School Psychology; a feat I undertook for one day, after enrolling at Vanguard University in the fall of 03. College wasn’t for me. This master’s degree, though, it was going to take at least 3 years, and then he needed an find internship, — preferably paid — and then . . . a job.

So, do we wait?

Things would sure be a heckuva lot easier if one of us had a “real” job. At the time, I was eking out a living as a nanny, making great money as a matter of fact. College was on a lark, really; my goals never superseded anything beyond wife and mother. But this waiting. My goodness, it felt interminable. Three years at least, before we could even begin to fathom a lifestyle reminiscent of our parents. The days felt long. The nights felt even longer. I wanted wake up to Michael’s sweet face, fall asleep to his breathing. If I could just stare at him all night and watch him sleep, then I could die a fulfilled and contented woman.

Have I induced your vomitory reflexes? Boy, did I have it bad for that boy . . .

So, as you will have likely guessed, we didn’t wait. We were married in the spring, May 22nd, 2004. The day I became Mrs. Cara Rosalie Olsen was one of the happiest, confusing, most terrifying days of my life. Don’t think I didn’t consider running past our family and friends without even a glance back to see if I had trampled any children; the thought had crossed my mind a time or two. What the heck was I doing? I’m 21 years old, for crying out loud! Didn’t I need date more? Sow my oats or something? And then, in what felt like both five minutes and five eons, I was descending that old rickety staircase, my sweaty hand pasted around my father’s sturdy bicep, praying I didn’t tumble head first into the pond below. Canon in d minor gradually faded into the soulful “Kissing you” by Des’ree. Well, it’s too late now, I thought to myself. Better go on and just do it.

And then I saw his face.

My darling, Michael. And somehow I knew it would all just be okay.

Nerves scattered like ambushed bees. All trepidation fled in the face of true love.

And so, I was finally able to wake up to Michael’s sweet face and fall asleep to his breathing. Turns out his face isn’t so sweet in the morning . . . Kinda looks a bit like a lumpy potato.

And his breathing? Yeah, it’s more like stentorian gulps of oxygen, primarily taken in through the mouth. And all this “watching him sleep” I had planned on doing, that didn’t quite pan out. You see, in order not to live on cup of noodle and water, we both had to work grueling hours. Michael had the joy of going to both work and school, while I elected to be the primary source of income, the bread-winner if you will.

But we had our independence! We were officially “living on our own.”

Our first closet — ahem — first apartment was less than 600 hundred square feet. If at any point I desired to cook something on the stove, use the lavatory, while watching  television and folding laundry, I could do it all without getting up.

It made us both a little nuts, you see.

For the next 3 years, Michael got up, went to school, went to work, and came home. I did the same, minus the school. We lived paycheck to paycheck. I battled through bouts of malicious insomnia.

Marriage was really hard.

I’ve decided to skip the part where I briefly considered what is now referred to as “The stupidest decision I ever contemplated” and say only that, being married at 21, with not  a whole lot of money, no friends in the same life-stage, and feeling as if we never saw each other or could get enough sleep, was difficult. It didn’t look like the pictures in the magazine. A handful of times, at least, we zeroed out our bank account. And of course the lovely bank people thought that the opportune moment to penalize us with a $25 fee, sending us into negative figures.

The hardest part, though, was learning to adapt to another person. Someone who threw the toothpaste away when it still had at least 10 good uses left in it. Someone who could disrobe and drop his clothes on the middle of the floor, even though the hamper was less than a foot away. Someone who went silent and clammed up when confronted with an argument, when I was ready to claw ceilings open with the talons that had somehow manifested on the ends of my fingers. Someone who found it painful to keep his eyes open for more than seventeen seconds once his head hit the pillow, while his wife was just warming up for pillow-talk. If there is such thing as polar opposites, Michael and I aren’t even on the same grid. Every inherent prosperity the one possessed, the other possessed its antonym. Except, thankfully, for a few things: music, food, and faith.

And so we survived.

Some time passed, and the dark days became a little less dark, and eventually Michael graduated with that long awaited master’s degree.

Oh boy, were we ecstatic. For about five minutes, until the economy decided it would implode on itself. Jobs were scarce. Finding a job in any sort of school-related field was like finding a rainbow at nighttime. By the sheer grace of God, Michael was offered a job that he was wonderfully overqualified for and terribly underpaid for. We took it! With a smile!

And somewhere around year 5 of our marriage, things began to meld a bit. A year later we even moved into some posh digs — a 1400 hundred square foot town-home. I continued to make exceptional money as a nanny and house-manager, and Michael worked hard at his job.

We were happy.

. . . then my job ended, Michael was laid-off, and we couldn’t afford our town home.

And we survived that, too.

So where are we now? Well, I’ll tell you. We live with my mother-in law, my sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, one senior Labrador, and one ridiculously addable Chihuahua. Michael’s face still looks like a lumpy potato in the morning, and I now beat him with the underside of my foot when his snores wake me.

God, I do love that man.

Michael,

I hope you don’t mind my sharing these sentiments with a couple hundred people. I know you’re as private as I am open, but I just needed some of my friends (I’ve come to love quite a few of them) to know how special you are. Because for a writer, nothing’s been written until someone’s read it.

8 years, my sweet man . . .

8 years, and I love you more today than the day I said “I do.” And actually — and you know this of course — that day I was still mostly in love with the idea of being in love, of launching into womanhood, amassing some sort of clout as a Mrs. instead of a Miss.

This — commitment, trust, devotion, and fidelity — is love. I fall in and out of love with things and ideas every day. You, Michael, you are my forever.

I refer to you as my Prince Charming, and you are . . . in a hunky Bill Gates kind-of-way. You’re intelligent, you’re trustworthy, you’re handsome, and you’re kind. Simply put, you’re my favorite. Being married to you makes the bad bearable and the good relevant. This world is a painful place to exist sometimes . . . especially for someone like me. The injustices that seem to maim and strike at every turn somehow skip over that hyde of yours. And when I come to you, broken and hurting, over some otherwise trivial matter, you do not tell I am being silly. You do not make me feel small and insignificant. You don’t dismiss my feelings or invalidate them. You love me. You wipe my tears. You tell me I am the most special woman in the world. And it is in those moments, the ones everyone else would see as neither consequential nor important, that I fall in love with you all over again.

You are so much more than a “husband” to me. You are confidant and sage. You are counselor and dolorifuge. You are heart-mender and fellow foodie-afficianado.

Michael Olsen, you are . . . my very, very, very best friend. Thank you for making life an adventure. And thank you for still wanting to keep me company when it’s not.

I will love you every day, mundane, momentous, or melancholy, until the day the Lord takes me home.

And then I’ll still love you.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

Your wife,

Cara Rosalie Olsen

67 thoughts on “A Writer and her Psychologist

  1. *Tear* Happy anniversary you love birdies! We will be celebrating 8 years this summer too. It’s such an accomplishment to survive marriage in your early twenties! I wish you a lifetime of happiness and love your story. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Happiest of Anniversaries! You were so young, yet, a bit of wisdom, beyond your years to add balance the proverbial scales. “You done good, Girl!” :)
    I wish you many,many more years of bliss.
    Jess

  3. wow, how wonderfully written! I hope one day to be as elequently gushy about my (not yet met) husband. happy anniversary to you and Michael, here’s to many many more! x

    • Thank you, Jrae. ;-) I appreciate you stopping by and saying hello.

      Well, when you do meet “him” be sure and let me know, and I will gush right along with you!

      ~ Cara

  4. First, a heartfelt congratulations on your anniversary! Yes. Marriage is HARD. It is also so very rewarding when committed to making it work. There is a special bond that my Nathan and I developed as we both “grew up” during our marriage. He was 24, I was 20. Babies, both of us. But the Lord took our love and knitted us together in Him and that bond became a tightly woven masterpiece of His blessing our obedience and faithfulness to our vows made before Him. So many marriages fail at the very first storm and never get to see the blessings that come on the other side of that rain and thunder. How thankful I am for my special friend, and rejoice with you that God blessed you so beautifully!

    • So elegantly put. You said everything else I would have wanted to say, but didn’t. Thank you, and congratulations to you and Nathan. I hope my Michael and I one day stand where you two do.

  5. Happy Anniversary to you and your prince charming Cara :)
    I am in tears, really no joke…some people just write they are in tears…um not me, I really am! I relate on so many levels…in exactly 1 month from today my love and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary of marriage…How I so wish I could do what you have just done. It is beautiful, so honorable and raw in a way that is so heartfelt. To communicate the way you do is a gift my dear, a gift. Thank you for being so open and sharing with us. You inspire me.

    • Well, that makes two of us, Ninali. ;-)

      This day has my emotions all over the place, and your sweet words was that extra push needed send me into tears of both gratitude and happiness. I cannot imagine responding to such genuine, honest kindness, so I will simply say thank you, and that you, Ninali, inspire me, too.

      Wow . . . 10 years! Ninali, I am already looking forward to celebrating with you! What an accomplishment. You couldn’t have been much older than I when you two said your vows. How blessed we are, my friend. The Lord is so good to have given us the gift of marriage and love. May we always be thankful for these gifts from above!

      Xoxox,
      C

  6. I always figured you two made a great pair, but this?! Sweetest. Love letter. Ever. (And those photos! You two also make a ridiculously cute couple.)

    Wishing you both a very happy anniversary!!

    Love, Kristin

  7. What a beautiful, moving tribute to your husband. I wish you an eternity of happiness and love. Few have what you have. Hold onto it and treasure every moment. Have no regrets. Love honestly. All my best to the two of you. Happy Anniversary.

  8. Hi Cara,
    This was just a joy to read. I’m still smiling and very happy for you. Enjoy your anniversary! And may your blog posts or books or private journals overflow wih such love when you celebrate your 18th and 28th and 58th anniversaries (and beyond!)
    Judy

    • I am so very glad you enjoyed our story, Judy. It was both a pleasure and joy to share it with so many wonderful blog-friends!

      Yes, yes, and yes! I pray this as well!

      Bless you,
      C

  9. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer. Most people never see those spectrums and yet their marriages still fail. When most marriages fail due to finances you guys are able to thrive (even if you pull you hair out). You know that life with your husband is way better than life without your husband. Congrats on finding the man who completes you in every way and adores you. And congrats to him on finding a woman who loves and protects him fiercely. 8 years! I could not be happier for you and can’t wait to see what else this life has in store for you both. :)

  10. Cara,

    This was just the sweetest outpouring of love ever. Those photos are priceless, you are such a beautiful couple. I think opposites make the best match and true love really DOES exist. I see it everyday in my parents love for each other and Scott and I are still plugging along after all these years. :)

    I’m so happy you found the one He created for you. Here’s to a lifetime of love together!

    Happy Anniversary!

    Lori

    • So glad you could share in our love and celebration today, Lori! I am encouraged by the examples set by your grandparents and you and Scott. What a testament to love, you are.

      Xoxo,
      C

  11. Happy Anniversary!! This is such a beautiful post. You guys make a beautiful, adorable pair. Marriage is hard work but when you embark on this journey with your best friend, it becomes a wonderful adventure. Wishing both of you many many more loving years to come! :)

    • Thank you very much! Yes, you are right; even the difficult times –more so, actually — become an adventure that, with your best friend, are the moments that bond you forever.

      Happy Wednesday to you!

  12. Oh, Cara. What a lovely post. You made my morning shine…now I cannot wait for Jason to come home to me! He, too, is my very, very, very best friend. Things are so chaotic and challenging and scary right now with only 9 days left in Texas…death in a the family, a scratched eye, running out of money at the wrong time (wait, is there ever a right time?!), too much to keep track of and with Fibromyalgia always rearing its ugly head. I’ve been an anxious mess for the past three days and this is the first thing that has brought me calm. Thank you for that. Thank you for sharing your love and your pictures and your life. Once we’re settled in the great Pacific Northwest I hope the Universe allows for us all to meet. Much love, Jennifer

    • Jen!

      This comment was such a pleasant surprise! That this post made your morning shine is the ultimate compliment . . . Obviously I do not know your Jason personally, but from the posts in which you speak so lovingly about him, I imagine him to be a bit like my Michael; a caretaker, someone who gives of himself, expecting nothing in return. What did we do to earn such pure souls as husbands? Whatever the reason, I am so grateful for us both!

      It sounds as if things are quite stressful for you both right now. I know lurking is the ever-present, pernicious Fibro. Though I know little of this ailment, I had chronic insomnia for 10 years — or I should say, stole my sleep for 10 years — and can relate, on some level. I will be praying for you and Jason this morning, that God, in all His goodness, works all things out according to His plans.

      I would love to meet up once the dusts settles. If you two ever find yourselves visiting Southern California, don’t you dare be a stranger! ;-)

      ~ Love, Cara

  13. I’m sitting here with tears falling from my eyes barely able to read this computer screen. Cara, what a beautiful story sweet friend. And pulling at my heartstrings as it so closely mimic’s my life. How odd is this?! Married at 20, living in a 900 square foot cracker box and life definitely not adding up to what I thought it would be. Working two jobs while Ranger Craig was working toward his Masters Degree. It was a long hard first few years. Ten to be exact. But we made it. And although my husband and I are as you and Michael, polar oppposites, it works. He’s my strength where I am weak, and I am his strength where he is weak. Although Ranger Craig would tell you he’s not weak. LOL!!
    Sweet friend these have been the most wonderful, exciting, adventureous 25 years of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can see you and Michael are destined for pure happiness and joy, and I know soon, much success! Happy Anniversary Beautiful!!

    • Oh, Karista. I didn’t even succeed in finishing the first line of your comment, before tears were welling in my eyes.

      Thank you for sharing in my joy, friend, and in return sharing the story of you and Ranger Craig. If we ever meet in real life — and I hope we do! — I would love to hear more of your story. How incredible to see the multitude of ways our lives paralleled one another. I’ve always held tight to the belief that God takes the most difficult things in life and uses them to refine our hearts, to make us purer souls. Because, it is only in loving something more than ourselves that we are finally freed from the bondage of our own selfishness and vainglory.

      25 years! . . . wow. An accomplishment that, when I think about, makes my head spin in wonder and admiration. No. We wouldn’t trade one micro of the adversity, suffering, and trials for one minute without our men. Those trials hold value — they made us who we are today. Thank you, thank you for your well-wishes, and yes, this happiness you speak of . . . I believe it will be ours.

      Much love,
      Cara

  14. Belated “Happy Anniversay” to you both. I loved reading about your love affair, the certainty of feelings, the impatience of a young woman who by some miracle has met the partner of her life before her life has barely begun. And, though I wouldn’t wish difficulties on anyone, I rejoice that those you’ve have been of a scale to forge and strengthen your relationship so that in eight short years your marriage has been tested so as to provide a template for trials to come.
    Milestones worth celebrating, dear Cara, with your prince charming:)

    • Thank you, Mere. It warms that you enjoyed this capacious little “story of us”. Your comment about meeting my partner before my life barely begun — it made think, really. I started to wonder if, maybe, perhaps, I was just so darn determined to meet him, that God have up trying to turn my interests toward other things. Time after time, there was opportunity and chance, but I said no. So then, he gave me a look of loving resignation and understanding, and said, “Okay. You want this now, I will give it to you. It’s going to be hard, though.” When I look back, I can see the groundwork He laid out for me; different paths in which prosperity, education, and the like may have happened. But I wanted love. More than anything else, I wanted someone to go through this journey, sometimes dark and scary, with. And by his grace, we survived a young, vulnerable marriage.

      You are right. It is the difficulties that forged our love, that made it strong, lasting, and durable. Had it been frail and weak, we would have withered and split at the first sign of insecurity and uncertainty. I have no doubts that harder, more difficult things are still yet to come for us. But with that man by my side, I shall face them stalwartly.

      Hope your evening is cooling down.
      ~ Cara

      • Oh, you fanciful thing! Blessings to you both from here – sweltering still, too hot to think, except perhaps to think about another shower and allowing myself to turn on the air conditioning a little early:)

  15. Well, today you managed to make me cry, not really in a bad way, but a sentimental, therapeutic way. I’ve been married to the same man for 31 years. With so many ups and downs I can’t even count. But each one, as you know, makes your relationship stronger.

    I love my ruggedly handsome husband more than ever. You see, today we wait for a dreaded phone call from a doctor to find out why my strong and steadfast man has been so sick. I hadn’t allowed myself to cry because I was worried that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop. But I needed to cry and I really do feel better now, ready to be strong, ready to take on a role and responsibility that I never thought I’d have, and ready to hear the news.

    Hug that man of yours, don’t take a moment for granted, and know that everything you experience together (good and bad) are precious times.

    Love, Beth

    • My heart gave a deep pull when I read this, Beth. Never before, have I wanted so much to reach out, physically, and hug a blogfriend. I know this fear. And like yourself, I have done exactly as you, keeping the dam of emotion at bay, knowing that, were I to allow even a drip push through, the rest was sure to follow shortly behind. And then, inevitably, the moment came, to which I realized was the moment of redemption. Your tears, they do not make you weak; I do hope you know this.

      I am not sure what of time difference between us, but I am going to be praying until I hear from you. Good or bad news, I would like to continue to keep you and your husband in my prayers. If you rather not respond by comment, would you email me? In any way I can be, I would like to support you.

      Love to both of you,
      Cara

      (mikeswife522@gmail.com)

  16. What a lovely day that I happened upon your blog. I know so much about you and your wonderful husband. Life is what we make it and it appears that you are making it just fine. I wish you all the best in the future and I do know that it will be a wonderful future.

  17. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story; you sound like an amazing couple that has withstood so many tribulations, and I hope that you’ll be together and happy when you’re old and grey! Being a happily married high school sweetheart (15 years on!) I can spot a perfect couple a mile away….you both look like kindred spirits! Congrats on 8 years!

      • It takes such guts to write a beautiful story like that, so thanks to you! Me & the hubby…15 years together all up, 6 years married!!

      • Oh, I am somewhat of an open book — which I goes is a good thing, since I write them. ;-) But I thank you for the encouragement and kind words.

        6 years married, 15 together — it all counts!

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