I tell people, including her, that when we got married, I didn't love my wife completely. I thought I did, but you can't possibly understand the depth of love until you have a child. Argue all you want, but you can't. You won't know love like I know love until you have been a part of creation and looked at something that is imperfect, sometimes annoying and still want to be with them always, like my daughters. So until I did, what I thought was love was something less. It was a sexual attraction, personal enjoyment in making her happy and just a flick of all the intangibles that attract you to someone. I had to learn to love my wife and discover all of the nuances that make her something special and unique. I had to be around long enough to experience them for myself and it took time for her to be vulnerable around me and show them. I had to fight with her, yell at her, make up with her and sometimes stay even when I was sure it was time to go. Now, after nearly 16 years, I think I've see all sides and this is who I am privileged to be married to.
- Unafraid to speak her mind when the worst of life is thrown at us, but reticent to tell me what she want's at times, because what she really wants is whatever will make me happy.
- Willing to call me on my bullshit when I'm not being honest with myself.
- Interested in my weaknesses and what part she can play in being strength for me in them.
- My safety net. I cannot count the times she's stopped me from crossing a line or saved me from venturing further into danger once I have. "Andy, you've had too many margaritas...it's time to stop hitting on my friends."
- Not my best friend, in the best way possible, because she values our best interests over any desire to make sure we're feeling happy in a fleeting moment.
- My best friend, because there is nothing I can do or say that will lead her to judge me.
- My confessional. There is no fear that what I think, do or say should be excluded from her knowledge. I have overcome my greatest weaknesses by asking myself what it is that I wouldn't want Sarah to know, and then telling her and asking for help. She has never once let me down in this or turned it against me.
- Comfort. There are days I need to be in her arms because I have nothing else to give me hope. Days when I am lost in depression and fear without a rational explanation. Her embrace keeps a glimmer of hope always on the horizon.
- Not perfect, but really, really, uncomfortably close to it sometimes.
- A completely stubborn person. Actually we both are... which has kept us together through some complex and angry arguments about religion.
As the mother of my children, I couldn't have been more lucky. She's not afraid to be cold when my kids need guidance away from foolish behavior, but ready to be warm when they need comfort for the beating life delivers. She has set the course for my children to challenge them daily. Sometimes in trying new foods, others in taking risks to reap rewards unseen. Thanks in large part to her, my kids are more ready now for life as an adult than I was 10 years ago.
While I am still physically attracted to my wife, in fact more so than ever, those compliments aren't enough anymore to say it all. That doesn't mean I'll stop saying them, it just means that from time to time, I'll need to say all of this too.
So, with all that said, now I'll say this:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!
I LOVE YOU!
P.S. Girl look at that body, girl look at that body... you work out! ;)