My husband turned 32 yesterday. One of those years that slips by like so many others. He celebrated alone, in a foreign country, surrounded by people who don’t speak English. Not one for the books, but one I’m sure he will remember to some degree. The girls’ and I sang him happy birthday over the phone and even had him blow out a candle, but there was no cake to share, no presents exchanged, no balloons or party. It was just another 24 hours marking him a year older.
I asked him several weeks ago what he wanted or if there was anything we could go and do. His reply was quiet and a bit melancholy. “No, not really. I think I’m good.”
Neither one of us are real huge birthday people. We expect each other to acknowledge it in some form and we do celebrate the important decades with more gusto, but generally we go out to dinner and exchange a gift. Nothing too crazy. We like being with our kids and we like enjoying life for its every day value. Holidays are fun, but they don’t fuel us.
Even with that being said I’ve felt strongly for awhile now about wanting to share some words with him. For me, words are one of life’s greatest gifts. If people give me a gift I’m generally most excited about what’s in the card. What they want to share with me. Tell me. Explain to me. A card with nothing but a signature is the ugliest waste of paper. It hurts to see it.
So, I’ve been mulling over so many words this last week. Words of truth. Words of love. Words of pain. All important and necessary and meaningful. I wondered how much I should share and how much I should keep to myself and to what degree my husband would feel comfortable with me sharing this all with you. And you. And you and you. And you. All of you.
So here we go.
This is what I said…
I don’t know what I expected marriage to be when growing up, but this was not it. You were not it. In the beginning–dating, our wedding, the earlier years–everything was perfect. So simple. Flawless even. I thought we were untouchable. When people complained about their husbands I commiserated with the lack of cleaning, the dirty laundry, and the dishes. We all dealt with that. But, when the stories got dark, when things got painful, I was often left feeling lost. I didn’t understand how women could be so angry or how a marriage could already be failing before it even started.
For me love was so simple at this time. Love and be loved. I loved you. You loved me back. Yes, we fought. We bickered. We went to bed angry a few times, but it was all stupid stuff. And it was all done and over with the next morning. We didn’t do well being mad so we made up easily. Like I said, it was simple.
The years ticked by and I thought I had it all. I thought it would always be this way. I thought you were perfect. I thought I was perfect. I thought we were perfect. And then I found myself on the floor of our living room in a puddle of tears learning the most simple lesson of all for the first time: you were nothing more than human.
And for the first time in my life I felt real, true fear. I felt lied to. I felt lost. I felt obliterated. When the truth of it all was nothing had changed. You were still the same person I married. I was still Melissa. We were still us. Human. Broken. Fallible.
But the stigma that our world had created, the stupid sayings about love and fairytales, the perfection that people sought and taught, this notion that if you truly love someone you won’t hurt them was broken. The simpleness of our life and love was severed. The perfection was gone.
And then the most amazing thing happened. I saw you. For the first time in our relationship I saw you. The you God created you to be. The you God created for me. And how the imperfection of it all made you more valuable. More loveable. More worthy of me and I of you.
You took life–you took the ugliness of it, the brokenness of it, the severed parts, and you gave it breath. You made me choose you all over again and this time I didn’t fall in love with you, I collapsed. I look at you now and I see everything. Every possibility for success and failure. For joy and pain. For love and loss and I want it all. I want you. Over and over and over again.
We carry a rawness inside–a vulnerability of sorts–that doesn’t weigh us down. It builds us up. It pushes our marriage further, our love further, our friendship further into a world I had never tasted.
We are unbreakable.
I look at you and my heart doesn’t flutter. I don’t get butterflies. And I don’t get weak in the knees. I collapse. Every morning I wake up I am in utter wonder that you are mine. That even though you are nothing more than human, that you’re my human. And mine to keep. All I want to do is make babies with you and spend our days loving on them. You are it for me and I shall cherish every day since you were born as more important than the last.
I love you. Happy 32nd birthday.
xoxo, your wife