“I’m so glad I married you.” This is what I made a point to tell my husband, my best friend, every day after we got married in the fall some years ago. Saying this affirmation daily was easy for a while. Sure, we worked full-time and I was in graduate school, but we consistently made time for each other.
He would smile every time. “I’m so glad you married me, too, baby. I’m the luckiest.” Simple, honest statements.
However, simple things tend to become complicated when compounded by time. Now, I don’t say it daily. My time, brain, and body are often occupied by an even bigger love.
In November of 2018, our son Rowan was born. I remember holding our little peanut on my chest for the first time. He’s so beautiful and perfect, I thought. I hadn’t even seen his face yet. He was a meconium baby, so they whisked him away to get him cleaned and bundled immediately. Approximately four minutes later, he was in my arms with a little striped hat on his cone-shaped head.
I looked at the top of his small head and I loved him and knew he was beautiful and perfect. My husband had tears in his eyes as he told me that I was amazing, that he loved me so much and was so proud.
In that moment, I was so glad I married him, and that he was my co-parent.
Rowan is easygoing, happy, and likes to play independently for periods of time. I think we have it relatively easy as parents. Still, it’s inherently difficult to meet the physical, mental, emotional, and social needs of a little human. Rowan consumes most of our time and energy.
It’s more challenging now, to cherish my best friend like I used to. Now, when he asks how much I love him I say, more than anything. Except Rowan. His answer is the same. We smile, knowing the love for your child is like nothing else.
“Love” barely encompasses that feeling. It’s a primal need in every atom in your body, to care and provide for your child. When I hold Rowan, the planets align, and everything is right. As a parent, I would do anything to provide and give him the best life possible. It’s my most important job to prepare him for adulthood, which will legally arrive for Rowan in 17 years. In a couple of decades, our children will be adults, and then, it will be my husband and me again. What will our relationship look like at that point?
My dad said when he was in college, he thought his parents would divorce once his younger sister graduated. However, they were happier together once all four children had left the nest. They were married 60 years before my grandmother died.
One of my childhood friend’s parents divorced when she was in college. Apparently, they didn’t have much to do with each other once their kids left home. They dedicated everything to their children, and neglected their marriage.
I keep this in mind. You can grow together, or grow apart.
Since Rowan was born, my husband and I have gone on a childless date once. Many days, I forget to say “I’m so glad I married you”, though it’s as true as ever.
In truth, we don’t prioritize our marriage as we should. It’s something we’re working on, because we’ve seen the result of couples growing together over time, and growing apart. We want to grow together. I see how easily growing apart can happen when you have young children.
The good news is, connecting with your spouse doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Date nights are great, but we need to sustain each other daily. I’m going to prioritize truly looking at my husband, holding his hand, and telling him how much he means to me. I want to truly listen to what’s on his mind.
Many people express before their weddings how happy they are to marry their best friend. That’s just the start. I want to look at my husband in 30 years, and still be happy to have married my best friend.
Like any friendship, we can’t take it for granted. Untended relationships wither.
I’m reminded of the hand-fasting prayer from our wedding, that we chose because it spoke to times throughout life when it’s critical to remember you are with your best friend. Cord wraps around your joined hands, hands that will work together to build a future, hold you when you are filled with grief or fear, cherish you through the years, hold your children, give you support, encouragement, and comfort, and lastly, even when wrinkled and aged, still be reaching for you.