When Nathan and I got married, someone gave us a calendar to fill in for our first year together. There were little heart stickers to mark each month of that year, and, much to my delight, our six-month anniversary fell on Valentine’s Day! Each year, though we don’t make a big deal out of the Official Day to Proclaim Love, we do remember that we’re halfway to our next anniversary.
In honor of our 21 1/2 year anniversary, I want to present 14 things I love about my husband:
He’s fun to be around. Nathan is my best friend, and we like to hang out together. We laugh and enjoy each other’s company, whether we’re on a date, shopping for groceries, or quietly reading our own books in our living room. I don’t have a better friend or ally in the world, and his easy-going nature and terrific sense of humor never fail to make me smile.
He takes care of us without complaint. I haven’t had a job since I did call center work from home, and this is all because Nathan works hard to take care of his girls. He gets up early and goes out into the Big, Scary World to slay dragons and bring home the bacon. When I was too stressed out from working and homeschooling and not doing either very well any more, he told me to just quit and we’d manage the rest of our debt pay-off on his salary. He did not hesitate, and when I reminded him that our deal was that I’d work until we’d paid everything off but the house, he replied, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” I put my notice in shortly after that.
He’s That Guy. In Live Free of Die Hard, Bruce Willis’ character answers the question, “Why are you doing all this?” with a speech about how everyone always says that someone should do something about the bad stuff that happens. Everyone always wants someone to step up and do what’s hard. People talk about it all the time. “I’m That Guy,” he said. That Guy steps up, does the job, doesn’t complain, and he does it right. When Nathan does something, it’s done right. I love his integrity and his work ethic. Sometimes it means he sacrifices time he’d rather spend with us doing something for work, but it also means he’s well-respected at his job and seen as a valuable member of his team.
He takes his faith seriously. When we were dating, Nathan was agnostic/atheist, but by the time we got married, he’d embraced the Christian faith that he had grown up in. Gradually, he moved towards the Catholic Church and came into full communion with the Church in 2006, the same year our older daughter received her First Holy Communion. Since then, he has continued to grow in his faith — studying and deepening his prayer life. I live a very outward faith at times, contrary to his close-to-the-vest kind of faith. But still waters run deep, and he constantly amazes me with how strong and deep his love of God and His Church runs. Just because he doesn’t talk about it as much as I do doesn’t mean his faith is lacking in any way. (On the contrary, I often think he has a stronger faith than I do, and that I’m merely working things out while talking.)
He loves his daughters. And the best part is, they know it. Occasionally, Nathan will take them on dates, treating them to a movie and lunch or dinner out. He listens to them when they talk to him, drives all over the state to get them to soccer or dance activities, and always tries to do what is best for them. They may not like the decisions he makes about what they can or cannot do, but they never doubt that he loves them.
He’s not afraid to be silly. Our family laughs together a lot. Nathan’s not afraid to be goofy with us or make jokes. I’ve seen him sit down to play with their Little People toys when they were little. I’ve seen him let them put a tiara on his head while they played. He used to be a veritable jungle gym when the kids were small. He’s played Just Dance with the girls. He’s made up funny names to call our children and silly songs to sing to them.
He helped me to start running. Last summer, before I started to run, Nathan would encourage me to start getting some kind of exercise so we could do more things together. I finally decided to start running with Couch to 5K, and he would go out with me, running when I ran and walking when I walked. I’d apologize for being so out of shape, saying, “I know you could be really running. I’m sorry I’m holding you back.” I desperately wanted to be able to keep up with him so I didn’t feel like I was keeping him from having a “real run” when he was with me. While I did get to that point, he never once made me feel bad when I was working my way to that goal. He was patient with me and found ways to encourage me along the way. Nathan has constantly told me how proud he is of what I’ve accomplished, even though it’s not much compared to his marathon run. And running helps me, not just physically but mentally, as well. It helps me when I start to feel depressed and overwhelmed. And I owe that to him.
He supports me in whatever I want to do. I’ve been blogging for more than ten years now, but lately I’ve been moving towards writing for a larger audience. Nathan has encouraged me in every way possible: proofreading things I’m unsure about, letting me bounce ideas off him when I’m not sure what to write. It feels really great to have a cheerleader in my corner, encouraging me to keep growing as a writer. He has also been a big help when it comes to my secondary vocation as a Lay Dominican, which was especially important when I was driving more than two hours to go to monthly meetings and taking half the day doing so.
He tells me when I’m wrong. This is so important that it can’t be overlooked! If I’m wrong, he tells me. Nathan isn’t going to let me go down a path that’s dangerous, and I know that out of his love for me, he’ll protect me from myself when I need it most. True love doesn’t let someone do things that are harmful, and Nathan knows it.
He would do anything for me. If I ask for something, Nathan wants to give it to me. If he says no and I bat my eyes at him enough (so to speak), he’ll give in. It’s a bit scary, knowing that I have that kind of power over him, and I make a concerted effort to keep myself in check and not abuse it. But it’s an amazing thing to know that if he has the power to do something for me, it is likely to be done. For example, I was looking at a nice DSLR camera — the kind I’ve been dreaming of getting for years — when we went to Sam’s Club last night. It’s currently got an extra $200 discount on it, which makes it under $600 for us right now. I was playing around with it, drooling just a little bit, when Nathan walked up and said, “Are we leaving with one of those tonight?” I hurriedly put it down, knowing that, though that tax refund is on the way, there are far more important things to do with our money than THAT! But I have this feeling that if I had asked for it and pressed just a little bit, I would have the snazzy camera.
This not only applies to things, but to actions. When my aunt passed away in Texas, Nathan was on a business trip in Ohio. He called his office to arrange for someone to finish teaching the class he was in the middle of, drove home that night, and got up to leave the house to drive to Texas at 5:00 AM the next morning. We spent a night in Mississippi and arrived in College Station the day after that. He went to a viewing, a funeral, and then started driving again so we could drop our girls off at Edisto Island for a planned vacation with my parents. That trip took another overnight stay halfway. The day after they were dropped off, we went back home to southwest Virginia. And this wasn’t even the first time he’d done something like this! When my grandfather died in New Jersey 20 years ago, his boss wouldn’t let him take bereavement time, and he wound up driving us to New Jersey from Florida, going to a viewing and funeral, and then straight back again in a matter of two days, with a half day worked before we left and going in for another half day the day we got back. We left on Tuesday afternoon and arrived back in Florida Friday morning. I tell my girls all the time that the men they marry should be willing to do this for them. This — not flowers or diamonds or fancy gifts — is love.
He doesn’t mind pinching pennies. Even though I just waxed rhapsodic about how he’d do or buy anything for me, I’m grateful Nathan doesn’t mind being frugal. We’ve learned this, a bit late, I’m afraid, but we are both ready to sacrifice some fun things to do more for our family. He’s driven a clunker so we can save money on monthly car payments. He’s given up our satellite (and all the sports programming that came with it) so our daughters can take dance and play soccer. He’s done without new clothes so his growing-like-weeds children can get them. And he doesn’t mind packing lunch for work, even if few of his co-workers do the same. All the penny-pinching affords me to stay home, and I do my best to run our household in a manner that makes him proud.
He is supportive of me homeschooling. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I have been surprised over the years at how many women homeschool under the pressure of knowing their husbands don’t completely approve of doing so. For us, this has never been an issue, and even though I do the bulk of the actual lessons, I’ve been known to toss things to Nathan and ask him to help with reviewing, proofreading, etc. And, most of all, he is happy that I educate our children at home. Once upon a time, when we were just friends, we were talking about our college majors. He asked me why I was majoring in education, and I went on and on with the typical platitudes about making a difference, reaching children, seeing a spark of understanding, and the rest, when he said, “I want you to teach my children.” This was more than a bit awkward at the time, since I had a boyfriend who was not him, but it all worked out well in the end.
He reads. Nathan reads all kinds of things, and, like me, has always been a bookworm. When we were dating, we discovered that it was just fine with both of us to sit and read together. I once dated a very sweet boy who was very much in love with me. Even though we were only in high school, he’d talk about getting married and growing old together. While I loved him, too, when I really thought about it, I felt like his dislike of reading was something that would bother me too much. I didn’t want to be a snob about it, but reading books has always been one of my favorite things to do. Not being able to share one of my favorite activities with my husband seemed an insurmountable obstacle. I eventually broke things off with my boyfriend, and have always been grateful for Nathan’s love of reading. To this day, we’ll still sit silently, side by side, and read.
He doesn’t need Valentine’s Day to tell me he loves me. Every day, in small ways and large, Nathan reminds me that he loves me. He does this in word — we never part without telling each other “I love you” — and in action, which I hope is clearly visible from what I’ve written. His love for me makes me feel like a beautiful woman. He makes me feel desirable when I’m certain no one else would ever see me as such. His love makes me feel secure because I know I can depend on it as much as I can depend on the sun rising in the east each morning. His love makes me feel safe, for I have someone who will love me no matter what the circumstances. He’s already proven he’ll love me in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, in good times and in bad.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Nathan. I love you more than I could ever say.