The glue that holds our marriage together consists of two things: Humor and sex. And sometimes, we even combine the two.
Recently, my husband and I were sitting on the couch, surrounded by our children, just trying to make it to bedtime. Feeling frustrated that we were unable to have a conversation without being interrupted, I resorted to texting suggestive GIFs to him, while he was sitting two feet away. We began to snicker like 12-year-olds.
Everything was fun and games, until our middle child looked over my shoulder to see what we were laughing at. Before I could hide the screen, he was mimicking the lewd hand gesture that I’d just sent to his father. In case you’re wondering, it was the gesture that involves making a circle with one hand, and using the pointer finger of your other hand to motion in and out of that said circle. (Go ahead, try it. After all, that’s what our kindergartener has been motioning nonstop at our family gatherings as of late.)
True love — the kind of genuine devotion that survives parenthood — is not pretty. It’s raw and unfiltered. It’s bare-faced and hairy-legged. But since there’s little time these days for self-indulgence or flattery, it is also selfless and full of grace.
Some women that I’ve talked to about keeping the flame going after kids bitterly remark that their spouses don’t try to impress them like they used to. Never mind impressing each other, we are too busy keeping the family alive and free of matted hair. Romance is for newlyweds and empty nesters. Here, there is only survival.
In our house, there are no flowers to signify that sex is on the horizon; only trimmed body hair clippings. Yep, a nicely-trimmed hedge is usually the sign that tonight’s going to be the night.
One thing I appreciate the most about my husband is his ability to not only accept my flaws, but lean into them, both literally and figuratively. My husband thinks my crooked teeth are charming. He not only knows, but loves, the rugged road map of my body — from purple spider vein to bulging, blue varicose vein. Occasionally, when he is hugging me, his fingers will run over a blemish on my back and he’ll pause to pick it for me.
And I do the same.
My husband’s eyebrows are just beginning to gray. Sometimes when I spot a white eyebrow, I’ll reach over and yank it out without warning. I make sure he takes his vitamins. I inspect his moles and comment on any changes in size or shape, and he repays the favor by enthusiastically checking my breasts for lumps.
This stage of love is a test. Our feet are put to the fire when everyone in the house is sick with a cold or diarrhea. We wake up exhausted, but we still have to pack lunches and drag ourselves to work.
Unabashed love is waxing our rogue facial hair together. It’s poking each other with our feet while small children wrestle in our laps. It’s knowing what the other person is thinking or feeling without passing judgment. I make sure to pick him up a key lime pie when I can because I know it’s his favorite treat. He stops in to buy me chocolate after working a 12-hour day when he knows I’ve had a terrible evening with the kids.
The reality of marriage is not always pretty. But authentic love owns the good and the bad — and delights in it.