Today is our 11th anniversary, which on some days, feels like it has flown by, and on other days, it definitely feels like I've spent almost 1/3rd of my life being married. Since it has been so long since we took any actual vows to each other, I thought it would be nice to let everyone know how that has turned out. Pretty good, actually, and here's a list of some of the things I love about my husband.
1. He is the first person I want to tell good news to, and we both love talking to each other. This is most apparent at like midnight, when it is way, way past time to go to bed, and we are actually in bed but can't stop talking to each other. We've had at least one of our best business ideas come in these late night talks, when the lights were out and my glasses were off and we were literally minutes from falling asleep. And we've wasted lots and lots of time talking about stupid things that late too. But overall, we both really like talking to each other.
2. He is the first person I want to spend time with when I have free time. Or when I don't have free time, too. This was proved to both of us last year when we went to San Francisco for our 10th anniversary. We absolutely loved this time we had to ourselves, exploring a new place, and able to talk and eat and travel without being distracted by our kids. It gave both of us a taste of the future, and reminded ourselves that this was the reason we got married in the first place, because we loved being together so much. You can forget that really easily in the tedium of everyday life. I wish we could go away together much more often.
3. He is thoughtful. This morning I went into my closet in the vain hope of finding a pile of clothes the Maternity Fairy might have left that actually fit and make me look good. The Maternity Fairy must have passed my house by last night, but I did find a t-shirt of my husband's that fits me, that he put on my side of the closet instead of his. And when I washed my 6 year old body pillow and accidentally destroyed it (don't ask me how) he not only found me a regular pillow to use, but made it a point of saying, we need to get to the store to get you a new one. That was about 3 weeks ago, and I haven't replaced it, but today we were discussing where to go for dinner tonight and out of the blue he said, "If we go somewhere locally we can stop at Bed, Bath and Beyond to get you a new body pillow." It is actually so thoughtful that it makes me wonder if there is something in it for him! But I think he sees that the thing in it for him is that I think the world of him when he is thoughful to me.
4. He is not tired of me being pregnant. I am, that's for sure, although I'm trying to save my true exhaustion since I still have 2.5 months to go. But he doesn't complain when I take 5 minutes to walk up the stairs at the end of the day, or get irritated that I move so slowly, or don't get much done, or make noises like a creaky old man when I am uncomfortable. Maybe he is tired of all of those things, but he is compassionate enough to not let me see him being anything but supportive.
5. He genuinely thinks I am pretty, even though I've gained a lot of weight (and not just in my stomach area, but my face and arms etc). And he means it, too, he isn't just saying the thing he learned to say during the first three pregnancies. He actually believes I am attractive, and that goes a long way toward diffusing my opinions to the contrary. Although he almost negated this point last night when he came into our bedroom and said, "Boy, it's cold in here, are you cold?" I said no, I'm not cold, and he climbed in bed, pulled the covers over himself and said, "Well, us skinny people are cold." It was one of those moments where you could see the realization hit him that that was about the worst thing he could say to his ginormous wife, and he literally grabbed at the air with his hands and tried to shove the words back in his mouth, and replace them with "I mean, us non-pregnant men in the house are cold." It is a testament to how often he tells me that I'm beautiful that I was able to just laugh at him and threaten to go downstairs immediately and write that down. He said, kind of gloomily, "Oh, you don't have to write that down, you won't forget it." He's right, I didn't forget, and I still think it's funny, but I can only laugh because I believe the rest of what he says.
6. We never fight about money. When we first got married, we came with our own preconceived money habits, namely that I am a spender and he is a saver. Fortunately, I was never a wild-and-crazy spender, and we quickly were able to come to an unspoken agreement about our finances that we have stuck to ever since. The beauty of it is, even though I still would be categorized as a spender and him a saver, he trusts me to be reasonable in my spending and doesn't question whether I really needed that new whatever. The peace in our marriage about all things financial and the fact that we do see eye-to-eye about our financial priorities may not sound romantic at all, but it is one of those things that makes or breaks a marriage.
7. He is a full partner in running our household. He knows where everything goes in the kitchen, even if he doesn't necessarily know what it's called or what it does. He is, and I admit, a much cleaner person than I am, but what helps the most is that he takes initiative to put away laundry when I do it, or take the garbage out, or clean off the kitchen counter, and I never have to ask him to do it. He cares about the way the house looks and rarely badgers me about it, which inspires me to try to make more of an effort to keep it clean as well. This is probably a source of contention to him, but he keeps it to himself and instead just sets a good example.
8. He gives 100% to our kids and to being a father. Today he went to Dad's Day at Boy #2's class, and never complains about Father and Son activities at the school. Even though he hates camping, he takes the boys to Father's and Son's campouts with the church every year, although he tries to get the kids to agree to come home to sleep. He plays catch in the backyard and the boys love baseball because he does. He has a pair of season tickets to the Orem Owlz minor league baseball team, and will take a child with him to many of the games, instead of calling a guy friend to go. Boy #2 gave him a book today at Dad's Day that said he loves his dad because his dad tells funny jokes, and it's true - he plays and jokes with the kids in a way that I don't. He can tell a babysitter each kid's bedtime routine (although he wouldn't - it's my job to talk to the babysitters) and trades off bathing the kids with me so that neither of us experiences permanent hearing loss from Boy #3's screaming tantrums in the tub.
But here's probably the most important thing: He wanted to work for himself so that he could have more time at home with his family. So he could call the shots, and if that means working late at night, at least he was able to come home for dinner first and be with the kids until bedtime, and then keep working. For every friend that I have who doesn't know what time their husband is coming home tonight, or who regularly has dinner without their husband, or who does the yard work because their husband is too busy working to get around to it, I am exceptionally grateful to a husband who has his family as his number one priority.
9. He supports me in the things I do for personal development, recognizing that those things make me a better wife and mother. I have been a much happier person since I went back to school 2 1/2 years ago, and while I think he'd prefer that I just stay home instead, it would be because he wants to be with me, not that he'd begrudge me the chance to learn and grow. He sees value in the fact that his children have an educated, motivated mother who tries new things and always wants to learn, and when I accomplish something, even if it is something he'd never want to spend his time doing, he is proud of me.
10. He lets me sleep in when I need to. This may sound trite, like maybe I'm just running out of points now that I'm at the end of the list, but it's so important I can barely believe it. Yesterday he got up with the kids, came back a little bit later and said, "It's 8:30, why don't you sleep for another half an hour?" Have more glorious words ever been heard by a mother? Today all I needed to say was "I got up at 2:52 to go to the bathroom and found Boy #3 downstairs watching infomercials. I fell back asleep at 5:30." Nothing else needed to be said, he got up and let me sleep until almost 9. It may not have immediate positive consequences when he lets me sleep in, but nothing could possibly make me happier most days, and I love him for it.
11. He is a very hard worker. While there are definitely moments when I would much rather have a full-time job than be a stay-at-home mom, most of the time I just admire how willing my husband is to put so much effort into providing for our family. I asked him the other day if it feels like a burden to have to work full time, if he'd rather not work. He said that he enjoys what he does, so it's not really a problem, but I've been around for the jobs that he doesn't enjoy and I know that he still worked very hard, even though he was looking for alternatives. I have seen the stress of being laid off or not making enough money and what that does to him, knowing that it is his responsibility in our family for him to provide, and it is hard to watch. But while he has complained about particular jobs, he has never complained about his role as a provider, which is much more than I can say about my job as caretaker of our kids.
There's lots of other things I can think of, but to sum it all up, I want to quote a cross-stitch that hung in my parent's bedroom when I was growing up: "Happiness is being married to your best friend." Whether I call him my Dear Husband, The Pessimist, or the Cell Phone Enforcer, I can certainly call him my best friend.