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The five-year itch and looking to the future

Jessica Runck, Homegrown Hollywood columnist

This month marks the fifth year for my husband, Jason, and me as a couple.

It's been a crazy half a decade filled with travel, excitement, a marriage and an ever-deepening commitment to each other. Last week, in light of this milestone, I realized something very important.

I miss dating.

Don't panic. I love my husband. Plus, he makes the best margarita this side of the border and I'm not just going to walk away from something like that.

Are you single? If you are, I'm sure you think I wouldn't be feeling this way if I were out there, in the meat-market, looking for true love.

You're probably right.

But when I say dating, I'm not talking about swiping left on Tindr or going on a blind date with a guy who admits over appetizers he's still in love with his ex-girlfriend and is really just there to make his mom happy.

No. I'm talking about the electricity you feel when a first date is really, really good. About the thrill you get when you discover the person you like, likes you back. About those exciting first few months when you're still learning new things about each other.

That's what I miss.

Last week, it sent me into a little bit of a tailspin. Five years suddenly became FIVE years. And thinking about the next five had me gripping the steering wheel on the way home from work in blind panic.

I was determined to keep my feelings from Jason. He didn't need to know, it would only worry him and make him feel bad. I was Midwest raised, after all. Keeping my feelings from people is in my DNA.

I walked through the door and our conversation went a little something like this:

Jason: "Hey, honey, how was work?"

Me: "Oh fine, fine. How was your — I MISS DATING."

Clearly I've been in Los Angeles too long. Jason blinked in surprise and my heart squeezed. I waited for him to tell me I was a terrible person, a terrible wife.

Instead he chuckled and said, "Yeah. Me too."

It might be the nicest thing he's ever said to me.

That night, I pulled out journals that documented my first three seminal relationships and read them in bed. First of all, wow.

I. Was. Dramatic.

But reading about first kisses and first dates made me realize how lucky I'd been to have so many heart-fluttering moments. (If any of those men happen to be reading this, well done, gentlemen, well done.) That time in my life shaped who I am and a part of me will always look back with longing.

The truth is, choosing the same person every day is a challenge. The day Jason and I committed to each other we gained a loving, stable relationship, but we lost something too.

Moving forward always comes with a little grief for what you're leaving behind. But that doesn't mean we should stop moving.

And so I keep stepping boldly into marriage, moving forward into the future with the best man I could ever imagine. Forward toward starting our own family. Forward toward loving each other more deeply with every passing year. Forward toward our future together.

Because to me, it's worth it. He's worth it.

That night, I finished one journal and picked up another. Jason had fallen asleep, and I glanced at him curled up with his sleep mask (sexy!) and the blankets tucked right under his chin, breathing that soft, deep sound I've come to know so well.

Yes, dating was great. But this is something different. Something that, five years in, I'm just beginning to understand.

And just like that, my heart flutters for the future.

Jessica Runck, who grew up in Wimbledon, N.D., and graduated from Concordia College, is a writer living in Los Angeles. Visit www.jessicarunck.com for more information.

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