I had a lot of ideas about what romance was like, back before I got married. I had lists and fantasies about the type of man I’d marry, the things he’d do for me, the surprises and gifts and flower petal pathways that would await me. I did end up marrying the man of my dreams, and he did surprise me with gifts and flowers and candles. We had weekend getaways, slow weekend mornings, and inside jokes—truly, we lived in a romantic, newlywed bubble. 

And then we had our first child. 

He was premature, sickly, miserable with both reflux and colic. He was incredibly tiny in size yet huge in need, and it didn’t take long for our romantic bubble to be burst. Or so I thought. 

We’d been out with my in-laws, celebrating a birthday at one of my favorite restaurants, eating a meal I didn’t have to cook, and sitting at a table I didn’t have to clean. I was thrilled. Until our little screaming preemie did what he did best and started screaming. 

Oh, how he screamed. He writhed in pain, shrieked in agony. He spit up with force all over my finally-going-out outfit.

I was embarrassed, frustrated, but mostly broken-hearted. I just wanted to enjoy a meal. 

I held back tears as I grabbed the diaper bag and insisted everyone finish their celebratory meal while I waited in the car with the baby. After all, it wasn’t like it was my birthday, so it only seemed fair that I do all I could, despite my own disappointment, to ensure they had a nice time. 

RELATED: Can I Let You in On a Secret? This is Real Love.

I made it to the car and almost had the driver’s door closed before my own sobs erupted.

I just wanted to eat, wanted a meal at a restaurant I could have enjoyed so leisurely before we had this difficult baby. I just wanted to spend time with family, with friends, with anyone who wasn’t going to scream and throw up on me. I felt so lonely, and never farther away from that romantic bubble we used to blissfully exist in. The baby cried in the back seat while I cried in the front.

Then I heard a knock on the window. 

My husband—my wonderful, thoughtful, loving husband—had packed up our meals in to-go containers, hugged his parents goodbye, and joined me.

He joined me in my tears, in my loneliness, in my disappointment. He could have stayed and enjoyed a quiet, leisurely meal. He could have justified that I had the baby and joining us wouldn’t make him stop crying any sooner. He could have come up with a dozen reasons not to pack up the food and join us . . . yet there he was, hot food in hand, willingly wading into the chaos with me, eating out of styrofoam instead of getting refills in a real glass. 

Marry this kind of man, ladies.  

We’ve never been too big on celebrating Valentine’s Day, choosing instead to find ways to show affection and offer surprises all year, but still we like to at least enjoy a snack or a movie on the couch once the kids go to bed. This year we had a cake, a very special cake, one made for us completely free of all allergens and decorated with our affectionate nicknames. It was shaped like a heart and had my favorite kind of icing.

You might dare to say it was romantic.

With the kids in bed and the remote in hand, my husband and I settled in to enjoy a quiet, delicious Valentine’s evening together at the end of a very long week. Just after we’d each taken our first bite of this much-anticipated, very special cake, our youngest came stumbling out of her room—she’d gotten sick. Very sick. All over her room. 

I set my plate down with a sigh and got to work. Cleaning up the mess, starting the washing machine, getting her cleaned, taking her temperature, getting all the cups and meds and towels a sick kiddo needs on hand. Once the flurry of activity calmed and I was rubbing her feverish back in bed, I heard dishes being jostled in the next room. 

RELATED: Marry the Man Who Does the Little Things

I came out, expecting to find a dejected, disappointed husband whose Valentine’s plans had been thwarted, but instead discovered that our cake, our special cake, had been packed up to enjoy another time. Instead of finishing his piece in peace, instead of pouting that his plans had been wrecked, he packed up the food until we could enjoy it together.  

Ladies, marry this kind of man. 

Marry the man who is willing to wait on his meal so he can enjoy it more with you. Marry the man who sees his meal as yours, too. 

Marry the man who is patient enough to wait, flexible enough to understand, humble enough to see that the true romance, the true appeal of the meal, doesn’t come from the plate it’s served on but the company it’s shared with. 

Marry the man who is as concerned about sharing the meal with you as he is with you getting to share it with him. 

Marry the man who doesn’t mind to-go containers as long as he gets to go with you. 

Marry the man who understands that life happens and doesn’t take the interruptions personally, doesn’t punish you for them, doesn’t feel slighted or less important. Marry the man who volunteers to wait and join you. 

RELATED: Husband Material: 11 Ways to Know He’s “The One”

Marry the man who is as romanced by warmed-up special cakes a few days later as he was by the candlelit dinners a few years before. 

Marry the man who values you and his time with you, who knows the true value in these special meals is found in you, not the freshness of the food. 

Marry the man who is by your side, on your team. Marry the man who packs up the food.

 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Jennifer Vail

Jennifer is married to the very handsome man she's loved half her life, with whom she juggles 3 hilarious, quirky, sometimes-difficult-but-always-worth-the-work kids. She is passionate about people and 90's pop culture, can't go a week without TexMex, and maintains the controversial belief that Han shot first. She holds degrees in counseling and general ministries, writes at This Undeserved Life, and can often be found staying up too late but rarely found folding laundry.

But God, I Can’t Forgive That

In: Faith, Marriage
Woman holding arms and walking by water

Surrender is scary. Giving in feels like defeat. Even when I know it’s the right thing, yielding everything to God is scary. It also feels impossible. The weight of all I’m thinking and feeling is just so dang big and ugly. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I cling so tightly to my fear I don’t even recognize it for what it is. Bondage. Oppression. Lack of trust. Oh, and then there’s that other thing—pride. Pride keeps me from seeing straight, and it twists all of my perceptions. It makes asking for help so difficult that I forget that...

Keep Reading

My Husband Doesn’t Change Dirty Diapers

In: Marriage
Father holding baby

My husband doesn’t change dirty diapers. He hates it. The mere thought of a dirty diaper makes him gag. He will drive almost any bargain to get out of changing a diaper filled with anything stinky. In fact, there are a few things my husband doesn’t do that fall solely on me. If I sat down (okay, sort of like I am right now), I could compile an entire list of things my husband doesn’t do for our family. I could write about everything I do better than him and everything I know more about. But that wouldn’t be fair....

Keep Reading

You Came between Us

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler between mom and dad under sheet

Right in the middle of our deepest love, you came—just between us. A silent, unseen surprise. A mysterious miracle of incarnated love and joy. From that sacred moment that we couldn’t imagine being any sweeter, came you. Sometime in the middle of all the daily goodbye hugs, my stomach began to grow and you came between us. This beautiful bundle of life blossoming right inside of me. And we were in awe of every single tiny formation of you. In awe of who you were, excited by who you’d be, in awe that you were ours. You came between us...

Keep Reading

To My Wife: I See Your Sacrifice

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Family of 3 sitting on floor together at home

Selfless. No other word more clearly depicts your commitment to your family. Motherhood is drastically different than you dreamed of your whole life—the dreams of what sort of mama you would be, of how much you would enjoy being a mother even on the tough days. Since day one of our relationship, you’ve been selfless. Since day one of being a mama, you’ve been selfless. Your love for your family shines through on the brightest and darkest days. But on the dark days, it shines the brightest. I can’t count the hours of sleep sacrificed, the tears cried, the time...

Keep Reading

If You’re Fighting for Your Marriage Right Now, Keep Going

In: Marriage
Couple embracing with worried look on woman's face

My husband and I just celebrated 20 years of marriage last week. For the first five years of our marriage, we had no kids. We now have six. We have been through multiple moves, job changes, pregnancies, miscarriage, child loss, the death of loved ones, grief, three adoptions, mental illness etc. I see marriage totally differently than I did 20 years ago.  I believe, above everything, it takes two people willing to sacrifice and work hard (maybe one more than the other during different seasons) in order for the marriage to stay afloat. Marriage, if done right, does not puff one up...

Keep Reading

She Left Him on Valentine’s Day

In: Faith, Marriage
Husband kissing wife on cheek, color photo

“Can you believe that?” Those were the dreaded knife-cutting whispers I heard from across the table. I sunk deeper into my chair. My hopes fell as everyone would forever remember that I had left my fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Maybe one day it would just dissipate like the dream wedding I had planned or the canceled plane tickets for the Hawaiian honeymoon. Some bridesmaids and guests had already booked plane tickets. It was my own nightmare that kept replaying in my head over and over again. I had messed up. Big time. To be honest, if it made any difference,...

Keep Reading

“I Can’t Do This Anymore,” He Said—Then Everything Changed

In: Living, Marriage
Woman with head in hands

The questions are very much valid. Did I know when I married him? Did I know when we struggled with infertility and trying to become parents? Did I know when we unexpectedly became pregnant with our second child? When did you know your husband was an alcoholic? The answer is simple yet so complex, I pretty much knew from the first year, yet I was in complete denial. When I met him, he was just my type—a bad boy with a bad reputation, yet so cute! On our third date or so, I saw how much he could drink and how...

Keep Reading

I Want More than Mediocre Love

In: Marriage
Man and woman holding hands facing away from each other, silhouette

It felt like an out-of-body experience as I watched my fingers type into the Google search bar, “Local divorce lawyers near me.” I just want to know my options. Yet, my heart pounded as realized I was halfway serious in considering a divorce. There was no betrayal, no abuse, no lying, or cheating. My husband was and is a good man. The truth was he did not do anything wrong, I was just convinced he was doing nothing right. We were in the thick of life with a new baby, and I was certain that the man I loved was...

Keep Reading

My Husband’s in Love with a Different Woman Now

In: Living, Marriage, Motherhood
Couple standing by Christmas decorations

He’s in love with a different woman now . . . I met my husband seven years ago. We got married and went on adventures. Went to some weddings and had a bunch of kids. Every Christmas party season, we would celebrate by going out to dinner . . . except this year that one dress didn’t fit. I had my husband try to zip it, and then my mom . . . there was no budging. I had been tiny, I had been heavy—sick and healthy. My weight had been a roller coaster always. But, this special dress had always...

Keep Reading

Did I Deserve My Husband’s Affair?

In: Marriage
Woman looking out window

When my husband left and ran off with a lady from his office, all of my friends and family bombarded me with one massive conclusion: Divorce him! You deserve better! Back then, I agreed. “Yes! I deserve way better than this!” And like a fast-moving train locked in place, my deserving something better became the fuel to cut him off. Then, as time wore on, I began to wonder, what exactly did I “deserve”? In the dictionary, “deserve” means “to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have.” Am I...

Keep Reading