The things I am thankful for after 16 years of marriage.
Sixteen years ago today, Harry and I married people we hardly knew. We were 28 and 23 and we had no idea what we were getting into. We had been dating for nearly 2 years at the time, and we were pretty sure we had met the perfect person that made us a perfect person. Joke was on us both.
While the last 16 years have ultimately made us better people, there were days and even years that sucked more than they didn’t. I just don’t want to go into anything without proper disclosures. If you are looking for someone to give you tips on how to have a perfect marriage, you can keep it moving. We’ve given one another plenty to complain about. I think the only advice I can give is to never dismiss someone asking more of you emotionally. Never be above reproach. We went into marriage wanting something different than what we had seen around us, but old lessons die hard. Anyway, all that to say; I think we might have found that balance between grace and not being a pushover. We both finally feel like the other one is truly on our side even if we don’t immediately see eye to eye. We are both growing into the people we wished we had been all along; the people we maybe thought we were, but a spouse taught us otherwise.
While I would never in my life give anyone marriage advice; I am here to share some of the things that Harry does that make me happy. I wanted to spend a moment publicly acknowledging the good. It does not go unnoticed.
Let’s do the superficial stuff first. I love that he gives any craps about football. I love that he loves futbol. I love hearing him yell at the TV in Spanish during the World Cup. That’s awesome. I am glad the World Cup is only once ever four years. I love that he gave no craps when the Chargers moved. I love that he looks forward to watching This is Us more than the game. This alone makes me the envy of so many of my friends. I guess liking football (or any other sport) isn’t exactly a flaw, but I am thankful professional sports games aren’t his thing and so I gave it top billing in this ‘things I love about you’ post.
He brings me coffee every morning. We both have a hard time getting up in the morning. It became our routine very quickly for him to make coffee for himself and me. He brings mine to my bedside, he typically kisses me on the head and says “Morning, Love.” and then he walks away. We both spend a solid 20 minutes in total silence with the sweet smell of coffee turning us into decent humans. Am I capable of getting my own coffee? Of course, but I appreciate that he does this every morning.
He encourages me. When we first were married, I was finishing up my BA and we always had planned for me to add something to that BA. Life took some crazy turns and long story short, I had to take a job that didn’t use my skill set and didn’t allow for time to work on anything art related. It was OK, sometimes you just have to pay bills. Once kids came along, my desires for anything other than family faded significantly. On occasion I would say “I really want to take a class in…” or “Someday I really want to pick up where I left off, but I just don’t know…” and he has always supported that. This year I was ready. For Christmas he built me a drawing horse and made me a sketch book. He could have easily purchased a sketchbook, but he knew I would love it more if he made it. We sat down and talked about Photoshop and other programs that had completely grown up since the last time I looked at them more than a decade ago. I speak to a very small demographic here when I tell you he gave me his original Ritmos. *Please leave a comment if you know what that means.* Honestly, Harry is a much better artist than me, and it would be easy for him to tell me so. It just isn’t his nature. His nature is to encourage and he knows I am capable. He isn’t intimidated by the notion of me pursuing something outside of our home. I am thankful for his encouragement of who I am and what I want to achieve and explore.
He loves his kids. Harry is not a fan of kids. No offense, but no matter how cute your kid is, he doesn’t like them. He thinks babies are cute, but once they are over a year he has no interest in your kid. He might be able to carry on a conversation with a teen that is interested in art or music for a while, but even that has a very short shelf life. That being said, he loves his kids with a passion. I will never take that for granted. Harry is a good dad. He listens to their hearts. He hugs them when they cry. He tries to transfer his calm rather than be baited into their chaos when one loses their marbles. He sits down and draws with them. He listens to them sing, he plays guitar and piano with them. He prays with them. He asks how their day was and listens. Even when he is doling out a punishment he has self control; he doesn’t hit, he doesn’t name call, he doesn’t threaten abandonment. He isn’t a push over; he commands respect without being aggressive. Our kids will never know ‘how good they have it’ and he will never yell at them because of it. It gives him great personal peace to know his kids have it better than he did. I am so thankful for my kid’s dad.
He isn’t too proud for counseling. I am glad that dealing with things from the past that inhibit him just living his best life is a priority. I know too well that not everyone has a husband that is willing to be vulnerable with a professional to help them see blind spots. In 16 years we are still unpacking and discovering deficits in our backgrounds that have contributed to challenges in our communication. Being open to taking the time to listen to a neutral party hear you both out and help you dance together is amazing. We treat counseling the same way we do a medical doctor. Something isn’t feeling right, so let’s go sort it out.He wants to do whatever he can to make others feel better, and if a counselor can help him see it, that is what he wants. He is confident enough to admit to himself and others that he isn’t perfect. This makes for a safe space for me to do the same. Harry doesn’t find the personal or unit value to one person being the ultimate controller. I think this makes him more lovable, but also more respectable.
My husband has no problem cooking or cleaning. Literally none. We have never had a moment in our marriage when I have had to say “You know, it wouldn’t kill you to push the vacuum around!”. We have always shared responsibilities. I remember when we made the decision for me to stay home after my daughter was born, I said “I will take on more of the cleaning stuff now.” and he responded “Why? I am going to be working the same, and you will have the baby all day, I might need to do more housework.” I know, right? Why do I ever fight with this guy?
He’s never mocked my weight or any other person’s weight. This may seem weird, but I am very sensitive about my weight. I had this thing that started late in middle school and continued most dramatically until I moved to Los Angeles where I just didn’t eat enough. I think everyone goes through a calorie counting stage, but it was more than that for me. Growing up there never seemed to be a missed opportunity to point out that someone (usually a woman) had gotten fat; family members, ‘friends’, even a newscaster we didn’t know. For some reason, it was quite important to share the disgust of a person who had put on weight. I couldn’t control much of my life, but I did my very best to stay skinny. To this day my view is somewhat unhealthy and I can’t trust a mirror. In the 18 years since I have met him, my weight has not fluctuated that much, but certainly more than what would have gone unnoticed in my past. I know too many friends who have had spouses or significant others that point out weight. Newsflash : You don’t look the same either. Rude.
He still tells me I am pretty. He still communicates that he is of the opinion that even superficially he totally married up. Honestly, of all the things I want him to recognize in me, looks are fairly low on the list. That being said, it still feels nice to know that your husband thinks you are pretty. If other husbands are reading this and you just think your wife knows this; you still should tell her she is pretty. We don’t forget that you said it before, but as we get older, especially as we look older; we notice the length between compliments more. I am not sure if this is the same for everyone, but my ego at 39 is super fragile and compliment about superficial stuff can go a long way.
He would rather be with us than at work. My husband is probably the best employee an employer could have. He is smart, punctual, and doesn’t cut corners. He gives no craps about office gossip. He is friendly, but only as much as he needs to be; he is not chatty and he has no interest in boosting morale with his coworkers. He just doesn’t. This may not be a popular opinion in 2018, but he really doesn’t think his performance is better if he is buddies with everyone. He doesn’t want to get a beer with you after work. He doesn’t want to work on building relationships with people at work, he wants to continue to build on the ones he has at home. He is the hardest worker an employee may have, but it is 100% work and not at all personal. Other than that, he wants to be at home. He doesn’t want to travel for work, he doesn’t want to stay late, he doesn’t want to go out after work to talk about work. He wants to be home with us; that gives me a lot of peace.
He doesn’t minimize my work. Both of us had stay at home moms, and I have always for the most part been at home too. Very early on we learned that we couldn’t survive without me contributing financially too. While I only make about 30% of what he makes, he has never minimized what I do. He sees and communicates how important I am to this puzzle. He sees other ways that I am contributing and makes sure to give credit where it is due. I have had way too many conversations with friends who make less than their spouse who have been hurt deeply my minimizing comments. Boo on those guys (and a couple women); be like Harry.
His sense of humor is on point. Harry knows how to make me laugh and he knows how to make others laugh. When we used to draw caricatures at theme parks together I remember Harry saying to another artist that you need to be ‘funny, but not mean; you have to learn that line.’ His jokes are never at another’s expense. Put down humor is plain and simple an act of aggression, and Harry just isn’t like that. Harry is very sensitive and knows how a joke at his expense grates at him, so he simply doesn’t do it to others. There is a lot of laughter in our house, but it never picks at someone else. If you have to say “I was just joking, relax.”…. you aren’t that funny. I’m thankful that I honestly cannot remember if I have ever heard anything along those lines from him ever. I am thankful to have someone who laughs with me and not at me.
Harry, I don’t know where I would be without you. I have heard you say the same. I know we had no idea what we were doing 16 years ago, but I am super glad we did. Thank you for wanting to give us your best. Thank you for being a soft place to fall and a place we know we are accepted and loved. You are a blessing and we are so thankful.