Sometimes the words “thank you” get lost in the day to day. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, Babble is featuring content all month long that celebrates those special people (and moments) that make it all worth it. Click here for more on #BabbleThanksLove.
We got married on a summer afternoon just like this one, the sun blaring into our eyes as we drove down the highway to the reception hall. Fifteen years ago. Before kids. Before working all day, and tending all night. Our waistlines trimmer, our skin smoother, our laugh lines and stress lines only a shadow of a thought.
I was nervous that day — not to marry you, of course, but the idea of presenting our relationship to the world seemed a little strange — embarrassing, really. It seemed like something too intimate and private to share.
But when I stood there next to you, our dearest friends and family gathered around us in a hush, I understood. They had seen us grow together in love over the years — from our gawky high school selves, through our tumultuous college years, and during our young adulthood, as we stitched a new life together.
My oldest friends remembered when my love for you was a ridiculous teenage crush. How devastated I was when you didn’t reciprocate right away. They’d seen how you looked at me across the room out of the corner of your eye, still head-over-heels after almost 10 years of dating me. And they saw how I still fidgeted and blushed as your eyes landed on me.
Some of them knew the deeper stuff, too. They knew how we’d helped each other process the break-ups of our own families — that we shared things with each other we didn’t share with anyone else.
Standing there in front of everyone, I understood what it meant for the world to bear witness to our marriage. Even though there were over 200 people at our wedding, it felt intimate. Everyone understood our love, was part of it, and would always be.
But it also felt like it was just the two of us, right there, saying, “Honey, I love you, and I’ve got your back.”
It’s so easy to get lost in the minutia of life, and to forget those life altering moments. I sometimes feel that I spend more time telling you to take out the trash and remove your dirty socks from the kitchen counter than I do truly connecting with you. Even after the kids are asleep, the best we can do is sit on the couch, put on Netflix, and try to keep our eyes open for more than five minutes.
But today, as we were driving, I remembered what this whole marriage thing is about.
I have never been a good traveler. You know that. You’ve seen me have a panic attack before boarding a plane. You’ve seen me become totally overwhelmed at the thought of packing for our family to go away for the weekend — how unreasonably bent out of shape I get if anything goes wrong.
You know I am prone to anxiety in general. And maybe I take it for granted how patient you are, how understanding — and how well you know me.
But today I didn’t take any of it for granted. Today, you saved me.
As we were driving down those sun-bathed roads, returning from our holiday weekend away, the kids happily clicking away on their iPads, the terrible beast of anxiety paid a visit. First came the nausea, then the butterflies in my stomach, which turned into a wild rumbling. My heart beat out of my chest so loudly I was sure you could hear it.
I had to tell you — and although I still felt terrified — I knew from experience that it was the best thing to do.
“I feel anxious, and I don’t know why.”
“OK,” you said. There was not one drop of judgment or impatience. You had been there before. You knew what you needed to do.
We pulled over. I used the bathroom. You entertained the kids.
When I got back in the car, we just sat in silence for a while. Soon enough, I cried.
“I hate that I’m like this. I hate feeling anxious for no good reason. I’m damaged goods.”
You didn’t say anything. You didn’t need to. You just listened. And as we drove away, you listened some more.
You helped me piece it together. The anxiety wasn’t coming out of nowhere. It was because I had spent two hours packing up to return home, that I would need to spend another two hours unpacking when we got home. It was because the kids had camp the next day and we had no clean clothes, nothing to pack them for lunch. It was because I always felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders —and maybe it was sometimes, too much.
You told me you would help me as much as you could with everything when we got home. That helped, but it was what you said next that helped the most. You said that I get anxious at times like that, when we are transitioning from one mode to another. You said that of course I would feel overwhelmed when I had so much to do all the time.
You knew my history. You knew my triggers. You understood me almost better than I understood myself.
You told me the weight of the world was not on my shoulders, that you were there too. It was as though the voice of anxiety had grabbed the microphone inside my head, but it didn’t have to be that way. It would pass.
You believed in me.
You believed in me.
Tears filled my eyes once more, because that was exactly what I needed. Not only was I engulfed by my own anxiety, but I was anxious about my anxiety. I was ashamed. But you knew me — the real me — and what I was capable of.
That’s what 15 years of marriage teaches you. Those of us who are fortunate enough to make it through the muck and mire — the fatigue, the worry, the resentment that also comes with the years — will have moments where we see this.
“In sickness and in health,” is no joke. My dear husband, I am so grateful that you always see the beauty in me, that you don’t back away when you see me suffering. I am grateful that you remind me of my beauty, my strength, and my resilience.
I’m sorry if I take you for granted sometimes, or if I seem to spend all my time complaining about all the things you forget to do around the house.
I’m sorry that parenthood and adulthood leave me so drained and tired sometimes.
But I haven’t forgotten you, the boy I had a crush on all those years ago, the one I married and took an oath of strength and solidarity with. Thank you for reminding me again of the power of our love. I needed it today.More On