My husband, Joe, is not an obvious romantic. The last time he bought flowers for someone, the recipient was heading six feet under. During Pre-Cana (required Catholic marriage class), the instructor asked us to write a love letter to our future spouse.
Here is Joe’s note:
I like you a lot.
Do you like me?
Please check yes.
I recognized right away that life with my husband was not going to be filled with declarations of love or long-stemmed roses. When I became pregnant, I was very self-conscious. To his enormous credit (and despite my 50-pound weight gain), Joe managed to make me feel desirable. Afterward, when my body resembled an aeronautical map, my husband again salvaged my fragile self-esteem.
It wasn’t because he wrote poetry. There were no heart-shaped boxes. He didn’t send me to a spa or attempt to romance me with fine wine.
But he did charge my cellphone every night.
He also took out the garbage before leaving for work.
And he would get up early on many cold Chicago mornings to scrape ice and snow off my car.
When I was a single girl, I had very lofty expectations of married life. There were visions of sonnets and cozy nights by the fireplace sipping chardonnay. A bearskin rug may have been involved. I think Vivaldi played in the background.
The soundtrack of our marriage is less Vivaldi and more Randy Newman. We don’t own a fireplace. And that bearskin rug? It’s a marker-stained couch with holes.
Whenever Joe and I try to snuggle for just a few minutes, we are immediately accosted by three little boys who somehow manage to wedge themselves onboard.
It is hard for the world to see past my gruff, burly fireman husband and appreciate who he really is. They never witnessed the night he spent hours tending to our sick, screaming infant. Joe had just come off a 24-hour shift and I was completely beside myself with exhaustion and frustration. My husband cooled our fevered son in the bath, monitored his temperature throughout the evening, and cradled him in his strong arms until morning.
In all my life, it is the most romantic thing I have ever seen.
No, most people don’t look at my husband and think Rudolph Valentino. Thankfully, the girl who once believed that a piece of jewelry or a trip to the theater somehow represented true love has evaporated. It now takes a lot more than a love note to make me swoon.
It takes a charged cellphone, a de-iced minivan, and a husband who never ever forgets to pick up a gallon of milk on his way home.