Seven years ago today the Genius Husband and I were married. We were giddy with excitement. He cried. I'll always remember that. I need that memory to balance some of the not so romantic moments that all marriages encounter. He wanted to marry me. He was excited to join his life to mine.
We both naively thought that it would be easy to chase down our dreams and do what we wanted together. I don't know if he realized how much of a sacrifice it would be for him to support a family, to stay in one place for longer than a year, to be responsible for more than his own well being. It has been a sacrifice for him to see the things he dreamed of doing get further out of reach as time goes by, instead of closer, and to wonder if he'll ever be able to do them. I read once that when woman marries she gives up her life and dreams to support a her husband's and make his dreams hers. I suppose in a more traditional marriage this would be the case, and I have felt some of that death that comes from giving up or compromising on some of the things I imagined in order to make this life together work. But in our case he has given up just as much, perhaps more, of his dreams in order to make this life together thing work. I suppose that is because the things that he dreams of doing aren't necessarily ordinary.
He has a deep heart of compassion, this husband of mine. It is thinly veiled by a sardonic, and cynical exterior perhaps because he has learned that it makes others uncomfortable, perhaps because it makes him uncomfortable. His instinct is to protect and to care for people who are weaker than him. He is a big brother to 7, and a dad to 3 and he is always thinking about what is good for them, to his own hurt on occasion. I love that about him. I also wish that sometimes he would be selfish and rest because he gets cranky when he pushes himself too hard, and I don't like being around cranky people. I don't even like myself when I'm cranky. And then get irritated when he sleeps all day Saturday, aren't I consistent? When I met him he was on his way to India were he took care of street kids and taught English in schools. He saw the street boys in Khatmandu who weren't technically orphans because their parents were still alive. They were usually kicked out by their step fathers, and so they roamed the streets, rolling hash and selling it and scamming tourists to survive. The GH saw them and started making food for them every day, and working with them. He drafted a charter for an NGO that would take care of these boys and teach them trades before he left Nepal. He has wanted to return ever since, but hasn't been able to since we were married. For a while he was thinking of everything in terms of what it meant to someone who didn't have money. He couldn't spend $2000 on something we didn't absolutely need, because that money was enough to dig a well in Africa for a community that had no water. When you see life on these terms it becomes harder to be frivolous. He is generous, to a fault sometimes. And I love that about him too.
Since that day seven years ago we have each disappointed each other, several times. We have not always been to each other what we hoped we would be. And I think that's normal. He continues to be shocked by the depth of emotion I experience and am sometimes engulfed by. He is disturbed by my fragility, sometimes feeling trapped by it. He doesn't understand, he may never. He gets sullen and unresponsive, he hurts my feelings, and I often feel as though he doesn't love me anymore. (When I'm pregnant.) His only answer is that he is still here. He was taught that love is a choice, and an action, and he continues to love by staying with me and working through it. (And I am still here too even when it gets hard for me and I want to run away from it all.) I think that may be the best, thought least romantic kind of love. When a man had set his will behind it and continues doggedly in the course he has set with you, even when the way becomes difficult.
When I was very young I would fantasize about the kind of man I hoped to marry. I ended up developing this very long list of attributes that my future husband should have. I would pray that God would bring me the man on my list. Eventually it occurred to me that a guy as cool as all that would probably want someone pretty spectacular in a wife, would deserve that. Suddenly I found myself praying please help me to become the kind of person who would be a good wife. I wasn't asking to be prettier or sexier, I want to be good, to be kind and patient and strong. The GH is everything I didn't know I needed, and even many of the things on that old list of mine. Recently I realized that I've switched back to wanting him to change, to be different in order to make me happy. Even though I asked myself before I married him if I could be happy with him if he never changed beyond what he was the day I met him. It's a silly and unproductive thing to wish, and a shaky thing to base a relationship on. But I can continue to try to be a good wife to be to him the gift that I want to be, and the help that he deserves. And when I switched to thinking that way again, I suddenly began to notice what a great guy he still is and how blessed I am to have him in my life, how much richer it is because of him. And so I go into this eighth year of marriage wanting to be a better wife, wanting to do this mom and woman thing better and wanting to help him figure out how to achieve his dreams, because I suspect that these are the things that I can do that will bring greater happiness and richness to both of our lives, and who can argue with that?