I can tell you the exact moment I fell in love with my husband. We'd been dating for a little while, we'd been friends for over a year, and I knew that I was starting to feel something more than simple attraction -- but, we'd really only known each other in one context. I knew, even then, that it isn't possible to clearly see the complete picture of a person within the twenty-something/work/happy hour/hang out environment. Besides, back then, the bars were still pretty smoky and nobody could really see anything.
That winter, we took a trip to visit his family who lived a few hours away. Having left after work, we arrived very late at night. His parents had stayed up to greet us (and meet me), but his sisters had gone to bed already. Like me, Brian is the eldest child in his family. He has a younger brother (who was in Germany at that time) and two younger sisters. I have a younger sister and brother. Like me, there is about a decade's difference between him and his youngest siblings; and we'd both spent a lot of time babysitting in our adolescent years, taking care of our little brothers and sisters while our parents worked.
After making introductions and briefly chatting with his folks, we went upstairs to go to bed ourselves. But, before we could even put down our bags Brian crept silently into his sister's bedrooms. Without turning on the light, without waking them up, he leaned over and kissed them each softly on the forehead. He watched them sleep for a brief second, and then exited the room with a look I'd never seen on his face before. His features had softened, and his shy smile completed the portrait of the man I'd been seeing, but was just now seeing for the first time.
I knew that, had his sisters been awake, they would have rebuffed this tenderness, as would my brother at the time. No teenager wants to be kissed on the forehead by a big sister or brother. But, I also knew that it was just the sort of thing I would have done. Brian was already a caretaker, just like me. He understood the selfless kind of love, the kind of love that carries you through anything and over any obstacles.
And suddenly, I knew. I knew that I'd found a man that I could marry. I knew that we would understand each other because we understood the meaning and value of family, of selfless love, of truly taking care of one another. I knew I was in love.
And, a few months later when he asked me to marry him, I knew that I was right.
I still am.