I am sooo not a morning person.
Husband is. He is ever bright and cheerful (and ridiculously chatty) first thing early in the morning.
Often, in the morning when I don’t have it together to make something for lunch, Husband puts a cup of Cheerios in a little bag for me to get me through the day. He knows I like grabbing a few between clients.
More often than not, Husband will slip in a note into my Cheerios. Last week, he put in this one:
Today is four years.
We had no expectations for our Junior Tribe Members beyond basic respect to each other. They’ve done that and more in spades. Grafting our families together has had its challenges, but so much more good than struggle.
Husband and I set the bar high for ourselves with a firm commitment to do the challenging, messy, beautiful, complicated, delightful work of figuring out what marriage looked like in the second half of life.
I’m such a flawed person.
I am a grump in the morning. Sometimes, I spend too much time on Facebook. Sometimes, I don’t lean into conversations the way courage calls me to. I don’t always hang up my clothes in the evening. When I’m tired and there are things to do, I leave it for the next day. Husband cracks a joke and I don’t respond with a smile. I scowl and say I’m not in the mood. I don’t connect with our out of town children as often as I expect of myself. I’m not as disciplined or tidy or energetic or a whole host other things as I could be if I were a better person.
I could go on and on with all the ways that, every day, I let him down. There are so many ways I fall short as his life partner.
And that morning, when he could say anything–he could complain, cajole, convince or correct about any number of things–he invites me to ask him why he loves me.
Oh, to be loved with a love like this…
It’s a profound thing to love another person for all that they are, rather than scolding them for all that they aren’t.
Husband’s persistent kindness, his willingness to focus on my strengths is astonishing.
Sometimes, it’s like he doesn’t even notice all the ways I mess up. It’s seems to me that it’s not like he makes an effort to overlook things, or pretend he doesn’t see all my many flaws…it’s like he really doesn’t notice them as he goes about the work of loving me. (And though I would suspect that it is a lot of work to love me, he really does make it seem effortless).
Husband teaches me every day about being a good spouse as he notices how fantastic and beautiful and thoughtful and kind I am.
Sometimes I ask myself: Do all his affirmations and compliments; all the ways he appreciates me lull me into a sense of “You are great, now you can just coast?”
And the answer is, honestly: No.
This love Husband has for me does not lead to complacency.
On the contrary, I find myself motivated. Motivated to want to be that person that he tells me I am. Husband believes in me and sometimes, I feel like he tells me who he knows I REALLY am—behind the flawed, frazzled, fatigued version that I feel like.
It’s like Husband knows the me that is actually me underneath all the flawed humanness.
He sees the best version of me and loves me for it…and that inspires me to be more like that by breaking through the flawed, frazzled and fatigue.
Often, Husband will be patient with me when he could be short tempered; or he compliments me on my appearance just as I have silently had an “I hate my body” moment as so many of us do every day; or I will see him jump up to do something that I am just about to do to save me the trouble. When he does something so deliberately and thoughtfully kind, it is common for me to say:
“You’re a good man, Mr. Klassen.”
I mean it sincerely. His kindness has changed my life in remarkable ways. The formality is for emphasis.
Inevitably, his response is:
“You make me a better man, Mrs. Klassen.”
Even the most powerful, most sincere compliment that I can give him is something he turns back on me to build me up.
The compassionate dare:
Can you put a similar note in your special one’s lunch, or briefcase, or send them a text or put it in a card? Imagine the anticipation of your loved one when you put a simple sentence like this one on a piece of paper for the special one in your life!
Develop 5 or 6 ideas ready to expound upon that evening when you have a few minutes together. Build your partner up with good stuff that has them understand that you know the very best parts of who they are and that you find those things deeply attractive.
But it just might be fantastic.
Happy Anniversary, Mr. Klassen. I love you.
Thank you for making me a better woman.