Remember on the front porch a few weeks ago, the sun was streaming in, and we had fresh, steaming mugs in front of us? Remember how, as part of the morning’s conversation, you took the time to carefully and thoughtfully tell me about how I make your life better?
It would have followed for me to let you know the same in return (because you most certainly do make my life better!) but sometimes, things percolate inside me for a while and then I write them down rather than say them out loud.
That’s one of the things I like about you–that you are going to be ok with me writing it down, even though you had to wait a while. That’s one way, in fact, that you make my life better: you let me be me. The me that I am spends time with my nose in a book, or researching on the computer, or speaking at a retreat on the weekend…and you celebrate that I am being me…even when that sometimes means doing something else while I am working for hours on the computer in an evening.
I know my life is better even in how you created the opportunity to tell me that I make your life better. You were vulnerable and honest enough to let me know. You affirm and value me regularly. I know we’ve only been married 18 months and some would say that all this lovey-dovey stuff is part of being a newlywed. However, I think there are lots of newlyweds that don’t have the sorts of conversations we do.
We live in a world that tells men that they should not be vulnerable and open about their feelings other than when someone gets married, born, or dies. That’s nuts–and so painful for men and their spouses–and you don’t follow those rules.
I wish more men shared more vulnerably with their spouses more often. They wouldn’t be inventing feelings…just letting out the ones that are already there, inside of them. The world would be a kinder and gentler space if we could know the tender hearts inside of brave men.
My life is better because you lead the way in not taking turns.
So many marriages are run more like a contract, rather than a covenant: “I rubbed your feet last night, so you gotta rub my feet tonight,” or, “I cleaned out the dishwasher yesterday, so it’s your turn today.”
You just willingly are kind without expectation for me to “pay you back”. I don’t know if you know how much that increases how much I trust your love. Sometimes I have felt like I couldn’t pay you back…and you remind me that marriage isn’t about keeping score. I love that about you.
And it inspires me to be good to others without even contemplating, “Whose turn is it?”
My life is better because you ask, “What can I do for you right now?”
You use this line often. Sometimes I hear it when I’m stressed or overwhelmed or sad. And you leave it open to me to teach you about what is helpful to me. That’s amazing to be able to imagine what would be helpful, knowing you what to know.
Knowing that it’s unfair for any of us to read each other’s minds.
Knowing that you are ready to know what my response is…and giving me the time to figure that out. (That’s not an easy question when you’re new at being asked it!)
What’s even more amazing? Sometimes I look at you and you fill in the blank, understanding my silence. You say: “You need me to give you space right now.” And I nod.
Us introverts count it a huge win when loved ones understand that some quiet time alone is the best gift. That’s not always easy to understand…but is so precious in a world that is loud and busy.
You aren’t threatened by my need for quiet…I love you for that.
You make my life better because you find me beautiful. Actually, to use your words, you find me “drop dead gorgeous”…and you enthusiastically proclaim it often. You swallow hard with big eyes when I come into the room before a night out–like you are trying to catch your breath as you look on my beauty.
I’m not saying it’s right.
As a therapist, it pains me that so many of my clients hate their bodies (especially when I know they are beautiful people). I’m right there as a fellow woman thinking the same thing. So I find it truly remarkable that you find me beautiful.
You say it so often, and so sincerely, that I actually really believe to the core of my being that you think I’m beautiful. Believe me, trusting that hasn’t come easy–because as a woman, my culture tells me that because I am not model thin and model tall, I’m not pretty. It’s engrained pretty deep inside of us females that most of us aren’t beautiful.
To have you be so unabashedly and unreservedly and freely complimentary about how you find me beautiful is remarkable–and beautiful, to me.
You make my life better because you are interested in me and the things I am interested in.
So often we will have a conversation about one of the Junior Tribe Members or have a philosophical or theological conversation about this or that in a spare moment, or while relaxing in the evening. And then 10 days later, you will continue the conversation with further thoughts. You bring up that something I said earlier that has had you further think on the issue…and you share with me what else you have thought of. You took the conversation with me seriously and remembered it and troubled yourself to circle back and have more conversation on it.
Seriously, if men knew how attractive it is to a woman to begin talking again days later about something she has said, they would do that more often. This makes you a babe magnet.
You make my life better because you are a do-er.
You look for things to do that you know will make our lives better. You make me a latte most mornings for when I get up. You made cookies the other night while I was out. You fixed the slow draining sink in the bathroom–without me asking you. You run out when you see me carrying groceries inside and insist on doing all of the rest while I go inside. When I emailed you today asking your help to move some heavy stuff at the office, you responded quickly and briefly: “The answer is never in doubt. Of course.”
The novelty of leaving the house with a messy kitchen and coming home to a shiny kitchen will Never. Grow. Old.
To have it transform into tidy without me having done it? Just feels like the best kind of magic.
You make our lives better by “gittin’er done”.
You make my life better because you are open about how you got to this point in life. You tell me how the love you had before we met made you a better person. You are still sad for her…which affirms how deeply you loved. That reassures me, oddly, about us. You are steady and committed, and your grief now is the proof of the love you shared with her then. I like real. I trust real. And you are real.
You make my life better because I know you want my life to be better. I matter to you…and that infinitely matters to me.
You make my life better because I know that I make your life better. You’ve told me. Often.
I love you, and I want to be good to you, and when you tell me I am, then I feel more like the person I really want to be.
We all walk a little taller when people whose opinions matter to us tell us that we are doing a good job.
The other night I was bummed out with the stresses of early fall with all it transition, and all its demands, and the unexpected challenges that had arisen. I was a little grumpy, feeling lousy about feeling grumpy. I know that it’s not fun to be around grumpy people…and so I hate that feeling that others aren’t loving being around me.
And when I pulled back the covers, I saw the letter you had left for me. The love letter. It was the anniversary of the first walk we took together to Assiniboine Park, and you remembered how our great adventure started that night, and how much better your life is because I am in it.
That was beautiful, Husband.
And you wrote about that night, that walk, and the walks that followed. You acknowledged the risks I took. You described what you love about me, and reaffirmed your commitment to me. And, in your typical Husband-esque way, you finished with the PS: “Did I mention I also love the fact that you are drop dead gorgeous?” 🙂
And I think that’s the most remarkable way that you make my life better…so often, your love and affirmation and commitment is affirmed precisely at the moments I feel unlovable, ugly or simply “not enough” in any number of ways. It seems often, that just when I feel like you are such a better husband to me than I could ever be a wife to you, you’ll pipe up with how I make your life better.
And that inspires me.
There’s a chasm between how you see me and how I see myself…I suspect it is that way for a lot of people. I know from my work as a therapist that if people could see themselves the way their spouse sees them, that people would be able to believe in themselves a lot more.
By seeing who I truly want to be, and affirming it, you call me to be a better version of myself. I like myself better when I’m with you. I think I’m kinder and gentler to myself because you have taught me to be.
Thanx for making my life better, Husband!