“You look stunning.”

This is what my husband tells me on a weekly basis. And somehow, he still catches me off-guard when he takes aim and shoots that statement at me.

Since we got married almost 10 years ago, I’ve gained over 10 pounds. My boobs look like balloons where someone let out too much air. A C-section scar is painted like a smile below my navel. I’m beginning to get saggy skin, resembling that of an old lady. I have too many gray hairs to pluck—I should probably give in and just buy the box of dye already. You could play connect-the-dots with the dimples on my thighs and butt.

But my husband doesn’t notice all of those flaws. And at the same time, he doesn’t see his young bride from our wedding day, either.

Instead, he sees me for all that I am today.

He loves that my crow’s feet crease the corners of my eyes because they mean I smile at him. He adores the lines around my mouth because they show how much our children make me laugh. He notices the calluses on my feet because it represents that, regardless of my age, my body can still run miles at a time.

And when he fires his “you look stunning” comment my way, it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing. Yes, sometimes I’m sporting a long dress getting ready for a date night. But it could also come after I get home from a good run, red-faced and all. Or even in the morning, right when I wake up and the bags under my eyes look like that of Rocky Balboa. When my husband tells me I’m stunning, time keeps moving all around him—but he makes sure to stop and look me in my eyes to make sure I hear him, to make sure I feel that love of his. I always do.

My husband does a much better job at making me feel beautiful than I do at making him feel sexy. He’s good like that. And no, he’s not wishing that I still had my hard twenty-something body like the day of our wedding. That faded away after we had our first child together. It’s no secret that creating life inside of our stomachs and then birthing them changes our bodies. We’re often not pleased with the results. But how we see ourselves after creating those beautiful babies, all those tiny and monstrous imperfections, that’s not what our partners see. No, way. They see us for much more than that.

When my husband compliments my outer beauty, it’s not the physical appearance that he truly sees. He sees the love for our family radiate from within me. He notices how the drive for my work deep inside of me shoots out of my pores. He feels my positive energy and wants to grab it—that same energy I carried on our wedding day. Unlike my appearance that will never change, I may sprout new gray hairs daily, go up a dress size in a year, and my body may sag lower to the ground, but that energy that my husband fell in love with—that’s never going anywhere. That is what is so “stunning” to him—not what I look like.

My husband and I, we’re growing through this aging thing together and he’s appreciating all of my flaws. Only to him, they’re not flaws at all. To him, all of those imperfections that stare back at me in the mirror make me the wife and mother I am today. They make me better. Wiser. My husband sees me today. Not the young bride on our wedding day. Not the girl from yesterday. But today—the woman I am today.

Angela Anagnost-Repke

Angela-Anagnost Repke is a writer dedicated to raising two empathetic children. She hopes that her graduate degrees in English and counseling help her do just that. Angela is known for her dreadful technology skills and her mean Grecian chicken. She has been published in Good Morning AmericaABC News, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, and more. Angela has personal and literary essays in Literary MamaThe HerStories Project, the anthology, “Red State Blues” by Belt Publishing, among others. She is currently at-work on the cross-generational memoir, Mothers Lie Follow Angela on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram