I wanted to write a post for Stuart in September, in honor of our fifteenth anniversary, that would record how much I love him. But, he forgot about our anniversary until we had been married for fifteen years and one day and this forgetting smudged his outstanding qualities and left me without any romantic writing material.
When February rolled around, I was too busy buying wine, lighting candles, cooking dinner and hanging a pink gauzy canopy over the bed to take the time to record my appreciation for my husband. Stuart is not a romantic and it’s taken me these fifteen years to figure out that it’s my job to sweep us off our feet. Once, on Valentine’s Day, when Stuart was in charge of the plans, we watched The Perfect Storm. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, I’ll spoil the plot for you...everyone dies. One of the sorriest Valentine dates a girl has ever had. So this past Valentine’s Day was an improvement. Except for the canopy. Stuart complained that he was trapped in a pale pink cave and he flapped around like a giant moth trying to escape its confines so he could get ready for work the next morning. It’s a good, laughing memory.
The seasons have spun from fall to winter to spring and today, finally, I write for Stuart. The birds call to one another and court at the feeder outside my kitchen window. A male cardinal stands on a hill of sunflower seeds. He scoops up a seed and gallantly feeds his female counterpart. “Here babe. Try this tasty morsel.” Makes me weak in the knees. The tenderness between these two lovebirds is my favorite part of spring. I read up on them expecting to find that the male cardinal stuck around long enough for a one-night stand and then was on his merry way. Instead, I learned that the bright red bird stays. He feeds his babies. He and his wife divide the family chores. He is faithful and dependable. Just like Stuart.
Faithfulness. We've been married long enough to know that it's easy to be deceived. We've seen the marriages of good friends torn asunder. Friends who have bought into the lie that the arms of another might provide the happiness, the romance they are seeking. Friends who have given up or given in instead of hanging on through the tough times, the stretches of boredom.
Once, not too long ago, logistics and distance demanded that Stuart leave us at home to attend the wedding of his last bachelor friend. He spent the weekend with other husbands in the same predicament. Stuart lost his wedding band a few weeks after we were married and we have not replaced it due to the almost certain possibility that he would lose it again. So he went off to the wedding, and the revelry, with a hand that expressed singleness but he wore his family around his heart and he was not tempted to pretend to be what he isn't. His married companions with their golden reminders on their ring fingers had no such qualms.
Once, we went together to a wedding. A second wedding for the groom. This second marriage to a woman who did not smile on her wedding day. At the reception we sat next to an friend who did not bring his wife but a new girlfriend. I nursed my fourth infant and danced with my husband on that sunny New England autumn afternoon and felt like a bride for I knew I was loved and my husband trustworthy.
Today our culture teaches that happiness is god and everything that gets in the way of personal fulfillment should be sacrificed on the altar of selfishness. My children and I will not find ourselves upon that altar for my Stuart is faithful and dependable and selfless. And it makes me weak in the knees to be married to such a man.