Head Over Heels a Decade into My Marriage
I hesitantly peeked my eyes open as the sun crept in through the blinds on a Saturday morning and looked over at my husband who was beginning the same half-awake bleary-eyed process. As he shut his eyes slowly, he reached out for my hand. I obliged and scooched closer as we laid quietly snuggled up for another half hour before he would wake to repeat the daily grind of another twelve-hour work day. This gesture may not seem like much, but to us it’s a symbol of the work we’ve put in to get to where we are in our relationship.
In honor of my husband’s 35th birthday today (say WHAT?!), I’m reflecting on how fortunate I am to be head over heels for the man I married ten years ago this August. The odds may have technically been against us as we were engaged after two years of dating when I was just 20 years old, but through all of the trials that a decade of marriage will throw at a couple, I can honestly say that we’re stronger than ever. In addition to The #1 Reason My Marriage Thrives (hint: SHOW UP for one another!), there are countless reasons that I am crazy about my husband this late in the game.
I was lucky to know my husband’s heart long before I married him or even dated him. We grew up in the same small town and had common experiences that connected us from the start. I considered him a friend and the absolute kindest guy I knew, and I had a deep respect for him. Fate brought us together romantically at exactly the right time. Though I was young and totally clueless about life when we decided to get married, I knew the character of the man that I was vowing to spend the rest of my life with, without hesitation.
For the first part of our relationship, I had a lot of insecurities and a fear of vulnerability that I couldn’t recognize at the time. Holding hands and snuggling or being openly affectionate was intimidating to me for reasons that even I didn’t understand. I was terrible at communicating my needs and emotions which led to a lot of lingering resentment, and I was scared to truly let anyone into the deepest areas of my life, ultimately for fear of rejection and shame.
Our relationship has evolved in so many ways over our thirteen cumulative years together, and I have individual therapy to thank for a large part of the substantial growth we’ve experienced over recent years. I reluctantly began therapy as a means to heal from postpartum issues and grief from death and losses I had experienced over a short period of time, but it quickly became a tool for me to set goals, push myself way out of my comfort zone, and prosper in all areas of my life. The evolution in my marriage has been the greatest outcome that I never anticipated to receive from therapy, or even really knew that I needed for that matter.
Though we have and will continue to have petty disagreements throughout our lives together, fortunately for me, my husband has been genuinely supportive and patient throughout our marriage. In earlier years, I was often selfish in pursuit of my own personal goals and neglected to recognize the sacrifices that my husband was making frequently, both for me individually and for our future together. My two most important takeaways from counseling sessions over a year and a half period were (1) the ability to empathize so that I could be an understanding and supportive partner for my husband and (2) self-awareness toward my own personal flaws that were impeding my marriage and relationships with others.
I know that our daughter will witness disagreements between her father and me throughout her life, but my goal is to set an example of a truly healthy marriage in which both partners are equal and love and support one another fully. Regardless of any insignificant disagreements we may have, we always find our way back to the core of our relationship which is based on a deep admiration, respect, and love for one another. Affection is a norm in our household today, and I make it a point to tell our daughter often, “Do you know that Mommy loves your Daddy?” She usually responds with a modest smile and tells me how much she reciprocates the adoration for the man who is undoubtedly the center of both of our worlds.
Recently, I sat outside absorbing our little girl’s youthful spirit as she ran up and down the hills of our back yard without a care in the world, and a thought entered my blissful bubble that had never occurred to me until then.
My daughter will never have to know what it’s like to grow up in separate households.
This may seem like much less of an earth-shattering notion to anyone whose family unit remained intact, but from a child of divorce, this concept is everything. I understand the reason for divorce in unhealthy scenarios, but it is a traumatic process for children to experience. The idea that our family is and will remain healthy and whole, and that my daughter will never have to worry about splitting holidays or choosing sides throughout her life is the greatest gift that I could possibly wish to give to her.
I am head over heels for my husband, much more so today than when we first began our relationship. I still have butterfly moments with him often and we are still as playful as we were as young adults navigating the world and our relationship for the first time. Even so, we are human and we are very opposite in many respects. He can drive me absolutely crazy for various reasons, as I'm sure he can relate. Even with those factors considered, we have learned to communicate openly and honestly, and I know that the man that I vowed to spend my life with is so much more than what I have deemed his eye-roll-worthy flaws.
Over the past year, I have watched my husband work tirelessly, devoting every spare minute into building our forever home while simultaneously running a business. I miss his presence immensely and I can’t even begin to grasp all of the endless factors that go into the entire process of the build; but despite any frustrations I have encountered on my end, I have admired everything physically and emotionally that he has put into cultivating a beautiful future for our family. His days are exhausting beyond belief, and he still manages to come home at the tail end of a 90-hour work week with enough energy to play the role of Branch to our daughter’s Poppy, filling the walls of our home with the most delightful giggles. He truly emulates the epitome of the type of partner that I hope our daughter will seek for herself in her future.
Today I am celebrating the biggest blessing I have ever received – the man that I fell in love with thirteen years ago and continue to fall for with each passing day.
To my beloved husband on your birthday: Today we are celebrating your 35th year of life. I have no idea where the time goes, but I guess it really does fly when you’re having fun. Thank you for choosing me every day, for allowing me to grow beside you in order to become my truest self, and for pouring your heart and soul into our little family. Thank you for being our rock and the center of our universe. You keep us grounded, safe, loved beyond measure, and fill our lives with endless laughter. When my heart develops a dream, you take action to see that it comes true time and time again, whether that be standing by as my steadfast support person or stepping up and personally bringing that dream to fruition. With you, I have never and will never feel unwanted, unappreciated, or unequal in this life we have created. We are a team and I know that we will never be left wanting or needing more in our lives as long as we’re together. Thank you for believing in me, respecting me, standing by me through all the phases of life, and for thirteen years of quick-wit and laughter when I need it most. Most importantly, thank you for setting the ultimate example of a father and husband. If I make a thousand wrong decisions in my life, at least I got the most important one right. Now & forever, babe.