Wednesday, December 24, 2014

An Open Letter to My Husband

Dear Joel,

Of the five love languages, you don't really speak "Gifts".  This makes things difficult since it's the one I speak the most.  However, every year you accommodate me by buying me wonderful gifts for Christmas.  You take the kids shopping so they can get me things, and you foot the bill so the things they buy me are really the things I want.  It makes me feel loved and appreciated.

Then, the tables are turned.  It's so easy for me to speak gifts, but I'm stunted in my ability to speak the language of "Affirmations."  I realize this seems kind of odd considering how much I love to write.  I'm sure it comes across as either hypocritical or insincere.  I mean, after all, I can sit down for hours at a time and write all kinds of things about other, fictional, people, and it doesn't bother me a bit.  Why can't I take a few minutes and jot down the things I appreciate about you?

Then there's the fact that there are several holidays each year that center around gift giving, and I can't think of one that centers around telling people how great they are.  Maybe we should make that a thing: "National Affirmation Day."  I guess if you think about it, Valentine's Day kind of works, but most people associate it with the giving of candy, flowers, and cards.  These are just more gifts.

Well, I decided this year is going to be different.  Instead of pushing you to come up with some object you could easily go out and buy yourself with your own earnings, and then delaying the gratification of obtaining said object so that I can speak my fluent language by purchasing it and making you wait till the official appointed day to claim ownership of it, I'm going to give you this letter.

Now, keep in mind, this is by no means an exhaustive list.  Also, I'm probably going to repeat some things I've told you in the past.  Please don't consider this repetition an indication of laziness on my part as much as it is an emphasis on how important it is to me.  With all that said, and the disclaimers dutifully applied, here is my official Top Ten List: Things I Love About My Husband (2014 Edition).

#10: You are an excellent provider.

You already know this. I've said it before, but I want to say it again. When I was a kid, looking forward to running my own home, I figured I would be a lot like my mom, baking my own bread, making homemade jams and jellies, cooking everything from scratch, etc.  I love doing these things, but back then these expectations were built on the premise that I would have to learn to manage a tight budget.  I would need to learn how to do these things out of necessity, not out of desperation.  I look back now, and realize just how thankful I am that I've been able to do things during our married life not because I had to scrimp and save, but because I just enjoy doing them.

#9: You make me adapt to growing technology.

I know this is one of those things that I fought for a long time.  I know I can be a stubborn person.  I have learned to appreciate your attention to technological advancement and encouragement for me to adapt.  I love my laptop, even though I scoffed at the necessity of it for years.  I love my smart phone and all the amazing apps you've introduced me to, especially Wunderlist.  I love that you introduced me to Prezi, even though I was content to use Google Slides and Powerpoint for about a year after you showed it to me.  In the future I will probably still resist new technology, but I'll come around eventually, and when I do I will realize you were right, yet again.

#8: You have a great sense of humor.

I've taken hundreds of personality quizzes online.  Almost every time one of the questions looks like this:

Every time I click on "sense of humor".  I mean, I think you're pretty hot.  I know not everyone has my taste, but I basically described you in my ridiculous teenage future husband list, and you've definitely gotten more dashing over the years.  Even though I got to marry a great looking guy, I know that over time your good looks will eventually wane.  When that happens I look forward to the fact that you can keep me smiling with your unique way of looking at life.

#7: You not only pay the bills but you take care of the finances.

I know that in a healthy relationship both people need to be actively involved in keeping track of income.  My dad used to say, "When your income exceeds your outgo, your upkeep becomes your downfall."  I realize he probably copied that from someone else, but he's the one I heard it from, so I give him credit for it.  However, I am so thankful that I don't have to pay all the bills and reconcile all the accounts and be responsible for making sure that nothing falls through the cracks.  Because we both know if I was in charge, lots of bill collectors would have our number on speed dial.

#6: You help homeschool our kids.

Back when we were courting, I remember both of us agreeing that we wanted our kids to be homeschooled.  Back then I figured that would mean that you would support me in an idealistic sort of way, but I would still have to do pretty much all of the teaching.  I joked about helping our kids with high school math, but I kinda knew in the back of my mind that it would fall to me to suck it up and teach it myself.  Over the last few years you have gotten so much more involved in the process than I ever expected.  Not just with grading math books, but with coming up with the "Presentation Process" with our kids.  You decide their topics, you shop for their rewards, you offer help each week.  It was such a genius plan, and you are coordinating it all, and I just love it.  It takes so much pressure off me, and really rounds out their curriculum.

#5: You pay attention to the details and aren't easily swayed by popular opinion

This is one of those things that I really appreciate even though it sometimes gets on my nerves.  It's one of those things I've learned to appreciate over time, though.  I appreciate that you don't just sign important papers flippantly, that you don't gamble away our money on hunches, and that you don't leave behind your convictions because of some new doctrine.

#4: You don't have a problem telling our kids no.

I'm outgoing.  I know a lot of people.  Because of this, I've known a lot, I mean, a LOT of parents who have a hard time telling their kids no.  I've seen what happens to kids who never get told no.  I've also seen situations where one parent says no while the other says yes.  I'm so thankful that you are consistent with our kids.  Not to double up on this one, but I also appreciate the fact that, while you don't have a problem setting boundaries for them, you aren't a hard-nose either.  You take time to develop relationships with them.

#3: You kill roaches for me.

Don't really need to expound on this one.  Ewww!

#2: You put our relationship above your relationship to the kids.

Here's another one I've seen a lot.  One parent who seems to think the other parent is pretty much just there to help procreate another little darling to add to their posse.  I feel so loved by you.  You go out of your way to make sure we have date night.  You make sure that I am healthy, and you caution me from over committing to otherwise worthy causes.  You're even willing to go grocery shopping with me, just so we can be together.  Even recently when we were talking about foster care, the reasons you cited for not signing up for infant care, is because you didn't want me to get run down.  It wasn't because you didn't want to have to deal with a baby in the house.  It was because you know how exhausted I get when I'm caring for an infant.

#1: You are faithful to me.

I hate that statistic that says, 1 in 4 marriages ends in divorce.  I used to just shake my head at it.  Now I shake my fist and cry out against it because I've seen way too many close friends prove its validity.  In our 18 years of marriage we've seen cheating spouses, abusive spouses, neglectful spouses, disconnected spouses.  I could go on, but I don't want to bring this positive post down.

I used to feel like I had to make sure I was always perfect for you because I had to hold on to you or some other woman would come in and take you away from me.  Then I kind of went through a man-hater stage where I thought, "If he doesn't love me the way I am then it's his loss."  Fortunately that pendulum has settled down a lot.  But, the common thread on both sides is that nagging fear that my husband is inevitably going to leave me.  I'm not sure when it stopped being an issue to me, but somewhere along the line I stopped coming up with contingency plans for how to move on with my life, and started wondering how in the world I was ever going to live without you if you end up being the first one to go on to heaven.  I used to wonder how I was going to deal with the news that you had found someone else, and now I wonder how I'll be able to find anyone else if the enemy took you away from me too early.

Suffice it to say that I'm in love with you.  I moved away from infatuation many many years ago.  I'm so much more deeply in love with you than I've ever been.  I hope that science and technology find ways of prolonging healthy life soon enough for us to take advantage of it, because I look forward to an entire lifetime with you.

Merry Christmas,

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