I met my husband when I was 16-years-old. I had just started working at a local grocery store and he immediately caught my eye. 6’4”, trim and muscular, red hair, and eyes as blue as a cloudless, summer sky. I had never been on a date, still didn’t have my first kiss, and was awkward (I still am!) but I went after him like a kid running after an ice cream truck: wide eyes and desperate to catch it.

But I didn’t. The truck kept driving right into a cul-de-sac of friendship. He would be single, and I would finally get a boyfriend. Round and round it went. Then I left for college, but we had become close friends and kept in touch with stray messages here and there, and saying hello when we ran into each other on holiday breaks.

I emerged from college a social butterfly. Just kidding. I was still as awkward as that little side-to-side dance that people do on a side walk when they all most collide with someone, and then they both keep trying to step in the same direction. I was working for my local newspaper and he was getting ready to graduate from the police academy and working at the local store I frequented. He said he often noticed me in my heels and pencil skirts and had wanted to ask me out for a while but it never seemed like the right time.

Our first date lasted hours. It was seamless; perfect. We had known each other for so many years that all of the small talk was done and it was a matter of catching up. I had a string of bad relationships that left me burned and I went into this thinking it would end like all the others, and I would rather be married to my career than have to put time into a relationship. Instead of typical first dates with pauses, lulls, and poorly-attempted passes, every time we hung out it was like being with my other half; he was the piece of me that I never knew I was missing.

He proposed after a year of dating. We got married less than a year later, despite a few family setbacks during wedding planning. The morning of the wedding everywhere I went people commented that I was the calmest bride they had ever seen. I told the women at the bank, nail salon, and hair salon that there was nothing to be nervous about because I was walking down the aisle to my best friend, and that as fun as the wedding will be, the real fun doesn’t start until the day after: when we get to start our life together as husband and wife. I know, I know, this is all corny, but it is true.

He works around 80 hours a week at a dangerous job with mostly night shifts and friends will ask how we make time for each other. We sacrifice sleep. A lot. He will get off the midnight shift, come home for 1 a.m. and we will eat snacks and watch movies. Our date night out now includes runs to Target and the grocery store.

We spend all of our free time together, and still laugh and joke like we did when we were 16. The years have been rough with a lot of hurdles along the way, but were still floating through the best we can.

Our entire relationship has been set on a foundation of friendship and I believe that is why our marriage works so well. We have been together all most eight years and going on four married. We have a two-year-old son, and an 8-year-old collie that I refer to as a son. I am still nauseatingly into him and proclaim all the time that I am the luckiest girl ever. My advice to anyone who asks about marriage is, in my opinion, marry your best friend. When you have a problem, who do you go to? Your best friend. Something went wrong at work? You go to your best friend. I can go to my husband about anything and he helps me through it. I am sappier now than I ever have been and find myself cringing with the things I say about him like the time I described the color of his hair as freshly-minted pennies. In fact, I am going to go tell him now how much he means to me before he finds out I wrote another love note about him via the Internet.P and i marked