My husband is better than yours.

Ooh, controversial – you read this and either thought, Your husband must be amazing! or You are full of crap, or Um, you haven’t met my husband.  But this isn’t your blog or your post, so I’m talking about my husband today.  He left today after 3 weeks of family time, swimming, sun, food, exploring, hiking, arguing, debating, and laughing.  I was watching him yesterday with the kids and couldn’t help but remind him of how lucky I feel to be married to him.  He reminded me that he is the lucky one (which he is) but I meant what I said.  I am lucky to be with this man for so many reasons.

IMG_1322Let me start by saying every marriage is tough – it takes a great deal of work, patience, cooperation, forgiveness, and the ability to maintain all of this while dealing with everything else in life.  This is true whether you have children or not, but children add another element to all of this.  If you are religious, marriage is more than just a civil agreement between two people to share their lives, property, assets, and incomes.  At it’s most basic level, a marriage is a contract with plenty of emotional loopholes to navigate.

I married my husband at 18 years old.  I met him at 16, knew I wanted to marry him at 17, and tied the knot at 18.  This is very young to marry and live with someone else – now complicate this by knowing that half of our dating time was spent apart, and my husband was sent to Iraq after only 3 weeks of marriage.  I knew that marrying young was going to have its challenges, and we were living in an unfamiliar place and had a child within our first year of marriage.  I was thrust into military life after no previous experience, which is also overwhelming.  I would like to say that we endured just 1 deployment, but that is not so.  If I added up all the deployments, years alone in Korea, and TDY’s (this is traveling for training in the military), I would say we have spent more than half of our time apart.  All of this, including moves, children, life changes, deaths, etc. make a marriage challenging.

Yet, here we are.  We have to work at our marriage all the time.  We had to learn to communicate effectively in person and long-distance, and we are still figuring it out.  We have grown and changed, which happens when you marry young, and we are still in love with the people we are today.  We have argued, cried, laughed, threatened to leave each other, battled trials and tribulations for ourselves and our families, nursed each other to health, called each other out for weaknesses, and traveled the world together.  I love my husband.  I love that he not only loves his job but is good at it.  I love the father he is and still grows into.  I love the way he supports this family, as my income and career is dependent on our moves for his career.  I never knew what our life would look like, and I still find myself shocked at what we have encountered and lived through.  But I always knew that he would be this wonderful, dependable man.

This sounds ridiculous, but there were a few moments in the past weeks that reminded me of why my husband is the best for me:

– I have been to the beach a ton while living here, but I never get to do the “fun” stuff.  Snorkeling, paddle boarding, swimming on my own, etc. – I cannot ever do it because I have to be watching the kids.  While Andy was here, I could try some of this!  I tried snorkeling the other day.  I ended up swimming back only a few minutes into it.  He asked me what was wrong, and I admitted that I freaked out.  It is so quiet under water, and I panicked with breathing a little.  In short, my lack of control and anxiety got the best of me.  In typical Rachel fashion, I admitted defeat and said I could never snorkel or dive.

Instead of agreeing with me or pushing me, he gave me space.  About 30 minutes later, he explained the gear again to me and gave it all back.  He told me to try again, to just relax.  I resisted at first, but he was persistent.  I went back out, remembered his instructions, and voila!  I could snorkel.  It was so cool to see the fish and underwater life.  But I could not help by smile because he handled the entire situation perfectly – because he KNOWS me.  He knew that it wasn’t something I couldn’t do, I just needed some space and some guidance.  He knew that pressuring and pushing me would not work – just tell me I am doing it.  He has to do this when we travel, as I hate flying, and when I have to do medical things I do not like (childbirth is a big one).  When we travel, I am the planner and he is the navigator, so he trusts me when I point out places and things to see and do.  My point is – he knows me well enough to help me.  This does not seem like much, but it is huge to me.

– We have reached the point in our marriage where we are honest without being hurtful.  If I look like a slob, he tells me.  If his breath smells terrible, I can tell him.  So when he tells me I am beautiful, I can actually believe it.  I may not admit it to him, but it makes me feel wonderful.  It is also helpful when dressing or doing makeup, as he would not let me leave the house looking ridiculous.

– He tries so damn hard.  I think it is easy for dads to phone in their responsibilities at times, especially if they are the only income earner or if they are gone frequently.  After all these years of marriage, I have a man that will clean the house when I am gone, watch his own children without calling it “babysitting,” discuss bras and boys with our teenager, let me sleep in or take a nap without a guilt trip, play with the kids, and will acknowledge how hard it is to be the single parent.  Small things to some, but huge things to me.

– This may be too personal, but here it goes – he still thinks I am physically attractive.  I’m not a monster of anything, but let’s be real:  I’ve had 4 children in front of this man.  My body, mind, spirituality, and personality have all fluctuated through the years.  He has witnessed and heard some horrifying things.  Despite it all, he really does think I am beautiful.  How lucky am I?

– I love him.  Love can be so many things to people.  I do not believe in true love, soulmates, destiny, etc.  I do believe that love evolves and has to grow, and long-lasting relationships are rare in modern society.  I feel incredibly lucky to have found someone to love so early in life.  He is perfect for me – funny, smart, handsome, caring, and supportive.  We are very opposite but also very similar.  We can debate politics, life goals, child raising, movies, books, comics, blah blah blah…we have nights where we are talking constantly and not even watching the movie we intended to view.  We argue about small and big things.  Some of his habits make me crazy, and vice versa.  And I love him, every part of him.  I cannot imagine being with anyone else, even though we are constantly apart.  I cannot imagine anyone else watching me in my most vulnerable moments and knowing my most shameful secrets.  Andy is my husband, and I’ll be with him until the end.  I’m hoping that medical science advances so we can live for a really long time, but we will be together no matter how many years we live.

This post ended up being pretty mushy.  I blame the post-“my husband just left” emotions.  I think it is nice to reflect on your partner occasionally and remember why you – YOU – may be so lucky to be with that person.  It is easy to take someone for granted, but I never do in our time together.  Perhaps it is because we spend a lot of time apart, so we really value our time.  As I write to you, after a day of airport traffic, tears, hugs, and explaining to a toddler that Daddy will not be walking through the door, I encourage you to reflect on your partner and their value.  This person is your partner for a reason.  Do not ever take it for granted.

Now, I am off to soothe a sad, storm-anxious dog.  It never ends…

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