By Laura Kaae
Change is such an ambiguous utterance.
It is the prized buzzword of politicians, speech writers and talking heads.
On any given day, you're told that change is both wonderful and terrible, depending on who you ask.
You hear that "change is good" and "change is what this country needs" and "change is for the better."
Then, you'll also be told that "change is bad," "the world is changing too fast," that "you shouldn't fix what isn't broke."
So when a family friend who has known Mike for several years now told me that "he's changed so much since you got married," I didn't quite know what to make of the statement.
The friend quickly assured me, however, that she meant "changed" in a very positive way. "He used to be very quiet and shy and now he's so outgoing," she said.
"He's seems so happy."
A few months ago, when my cousin spent a week with us, she said the same about me. "You're different – in a good way," she said. "You still seem so in love."
Both sentiments touched my heart and gave me cause to take a moment and think about just how we have changed in this almost-one-year since Mike and I exchanged rings.
For starters, the Constantly Putting Your Best Foot Forward Stage gracefully transitioned out a few months after we got married.
Ladies, you know that stage. That's the one where you're constantly checking your make-up and making sure you have on the right outfit and matching shoes with coordinated nail polish all to watch television and eat junk food on the couch with that special man of yours.
Men, those are the times – way back when – when putting on cologne, washing the car and tidying up the bathroom were must-dos on the pre-date checkoff list.
Those are the days when, to cook supper, you run to the store for just one missed ingredient so that the meal will be absolutely perfect and candles are lit for every occasion, even take-out pizza.
While we transitioned out of that stage and into the I Didn't Shower, Put On Make-up or Cologne and I'm Wearing My Sweats And That's OK Stage back in the fall, not everything changed completely.
While I no longer coordinate outfits just for lazy TV-watching nights, we still light candles for every meal, whether that's take-out pizza or chicken-casserole-minus-the-chicken because-I-forgot-to-pick-some-up nights.
Mike hasn't washed the truck in weeks, but he'll still splash on cologne if we decide to make an evening special.
Yeah, maybe some of those changes are sheer laziness, but I think we've just gotten really comfortable with each other and with the marriage. Somehow all our belongings changed from "his" and "mine" to just "ours" in the last year, and somewhere along the way "Mike and I" became an "us."
Maybe I'm just amused by things too easily, but I love those changes. In addition to becoming an expert in what makes the other person laugh and what makes their blood boil (and walking that line carefully to get maximum laughter from that person as well and to get away with the most possible trouble without actually making him or her mad) during this stage, you also get to relax and be yourself.
It's nice knowing I can burn supper and he can be crabby in the mornings, I can get lost halfway down the block and he can forget to comment on my new hairstyle and that so long as we laugh about it in the end, everything will be just fine.
I guess when you have that total comfort, that sure, you've-seen-me-puking-up-macaroni-and-cheese-and-you-still-love-me assurance is when you know you've got something special.
It's also great that we don't need to pretend in front of friends or family.
For example, Mike will give a cheesy, pursed-lipped half smile when I say something embarrassing or foul-mouthed that tells our friends, "Yes, I know she's being ridiculous and yes, I still love her."
And then there is my not-subtle-in-the-least-bit Look of Disgust, (generally followed by a slug on the upper arm) that says to my husband and any company in our presence "You have got to be kidding me!" in no uncertain terms.
Things were good when we got married and now they're even better in that comfortable kind of way. I'm not sure when Mike started being more outgoing or when I became "different – in a good way" as my cousin said, but I know I speak for both of when I say we sure are having fun and are pretty darn happy.
And those are changes I can sure live with.
Laura Kaae is a new Army wife who lives in Nolanville with her husband, Mike, a Black Hawk pilot in the 4th Infantry Division. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org