Dear husband,

As I write this, I am patting the back of our 3-year-old while she drifts off to sleep and you rock our screaming 8-month-old. It is going to be another long night and I know we won’t get a chance to talk again until about this time tomorrow.

We haven’t been on great terms lately. Maybe because we both work long hours and only interact momentarily as we brief each other on the daily activities and status of the kids, or because we are both so tired it is hard to even shower without a little extra nudge. Whatever the reason, I think there is something I have been forgetting to tell you. You see despite the hours we may go without talking each day, the days we may go without a conversation not involving toddler appetites and diaper rashes, or the many long nights spent sleeping separately as we try to convince a child each to sleep through the night, I want you to know that I love you very much. I love you for all that you do for me and our girls and all the little things it is hard to put into words, but I will try.

I love that you spend time delicately vacuuming a carpet that will be covered in macaroni and cheese before you can even get the vacuum put away. I love that you are able to help our friends with their home repairs and renovations and that nothing is impossible until after you try to fix it at least 10 times. I love the way you make our children laugh and indulge their imagination while still being able to make them listen.

And then there are even smaller things about you that I can’t help but love: the way you push your glasses up on the bridge of your nose when they slide too low; the sweet sound of your rare laughter; and your need to bring us matching cups for our Saturday morning coffee even though we have so many coffee cups.

Before we got married, I knew there would be challenges we would face that would make me question the health of our relationship. I knew I would wonder if we were both sufficiently happy to continue things as they are or if changes needed to be made. I mean isn’t that true of all marriages? Wouldn’t an unchallenged marriage mean that someone was checked out—and no longer in it the way they should be?

I would be lying if I said there weren’t some days I would rather cut off my own arm than face our challenges head-on. That on those days, I want to go back into our bedroom, shut the door, and stay there. I call those days spiraling days—days where things just seem to go wrong one after the other after the other. Those are the days I send you texts begging you to come home on time so I can try to breathe again without the suffocating feeling that comes with child-rearing. Or the days when I threaten to get a second job so you won’t have to worry about not having as much money as you would like in our savings account. I mean, we rarely spend an uninterrupted hour together and more times than not that hour is spent discussing finances, or the kids. What does that say about us, about this life we choose to lead?

I think it says so, so much. We may not have dates as often as we like and we may not share the same bed most nights, but we are both still here—we are still checked in full-time. So, when I say I love you I mean it even if all I can give you, to show you how much, is this letter and some digital hugs and kisses.

Your loving and sleepy wife

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E.F.C. Warden

I am a high school librarian and mother of two girls, ages 3 years and 8 months. I reside in middle Tennessee with my kiddos, husband, dog, cat, and tortoise.