As of last month, Husband and I have officially known each other ten years. That’s essentially a third of our lives. That’s a long time. Long enough to love each other, know what makes each other tick, and sure, even tick each other off. We are at times most adept at practicing the third. But time has been precious through most of our relationship, so we try not to squander it.
What defines most? Anything post-year four. By then, the amount of time we had apart began to increase faster than we could make those hours up. Some of this was (and is!) part of getting older, part of meeting the demands of fully-fledged adulthood. Some of this is that we’ve chosen to live somewhere that holds less dear the things I hold most so – family, caring for yourself and others, and generally being a kind person.
And so, closeness has become a state of mind in our household. Me from our house in the burbs, and him from his “Manhattan apartment” (the office), together we string together what conversations we can, what hopes we dare, what plans we commit, with no one else but ourselves. Together we build a home, a life, despite our circumstances. While our blessings and misfortunes sometimes feel as though they’re beginning to blur as “back in New York-ers,” in every situation I’m glad we have each other.
Husband, it’s been a privilege to have ten years in the rearview with you. And to start off our next ten on the right foot, here are ten reasons why I can’t wait to see what’s ahead, together:
(1) You’re grounded. I’m a dreamer by nature and a planner by circumstance. This means I believe even the biggest, most audacious goals are just as achievable as my mundane chores are inevitable. We dream big together and then I plan like heck to get there. When we hit a stumbling block or things get messy for a bit, you’re never too far from reminding me that big, audacious goals just take time to unfold. Your patience, stability and grounded approach give me strength to keep dreaming, keep planning, keep working toward the things we want – whether the chips are up or down.
(2) You’re willing to work hard. One of the things that I admire most about you is that you’re willing to work really hard. So, in all that dreaming and planning we’re doing, I’m never doing it alone. You pick up the proverbial yoke to get through whatever struggles you’re facing, and when you’re done with that, you pick up what’s left of mine and keep marching forward. Because giving up or giving anything less than your all is just not going to happen. Most days I wish I had that sort of intestinal fortitude. I couldn’t work as hard for as long as you do and still be remotely human. You’re a superhero. It’s pretty amazing. (Little known fact: lawyers are superheroes when they’re not being professional jerks. Belabored point: it’s little-known because most people get hung up on the last part before they take time to learn the first.)
(3) You’re willing to take risks … sometimes. I’m the more adventuresome one when it comes to taking risks, and in most cases (see point #1) it’s actually a blessing. At the same time, you’re brave enough to take risks with me when it makes sense, and sometimes when it doesn’t but we just know it’s “right.” It’s truly wonderful to learn and grow with you by my side, and here’s hoping our instincts keep pointing us in the right direction!
(4) You’re a fan of the outdoors. There is a running joke in our house that, if at any given moment you ask me what I want to do, I will only answer with: “EXPLORE!” It’s also a factual statement. In the few moments you’re home and should probably be sleeping, you still find time to indulge my curiosity about the world, which takes us everywhere from fine antiques to all-kinds-of-muddy deep woods. We both prefer the times we spend outdoors. It gets us away from the hustle and bustle that contributes to our over-teched and over-worked lives … and back in sync with real life. Sharing joy in the great outdoors is something I can’t imagine living without. I’m so glad I get to share it with you.
(5) You’re a crazy dog person. I like cats. I don’t mind fish. Birds I have mixed feelings about. Not a huge fan of reptiles or spiders or rodents. But we both know that for a family pet, there is really only one choice. That choice is a dog. Thank God we agree, because if there’s one being I love almost as much as I love you, it’s our four-legged tagalong, Salem. Your leap of faith to welcome her into our family worked out for all three of us, and now we get to be those obnoxious people who talk about their dog all the time.
(6) You’re a morning person. This is another one of those things I admire about you, and that is still fully aspirational for me. You wake up each day with the energy and enthusiasm to hit the ground running, which is not only impressive but also desperately appreciated by myself and the dog, who we both know is second only to you in her insistence upon early routines. You do before 6:30AM what I would never dream of doing before at least 10 … and at least one cup of coffee. I commend you, sir.
(7) You have a confident, respectful faith. In today’s day and age, it’s not sexy to have belief (has it ever been?). You’re proud of your heritage, your church, your school(s) – and you’re unafraid to live the values they taught you. You do this daily, without pause, and without having to tell everyone all the ways you’re doing it or forcing others to do the same. We don’t always agree on the finer details of doctrine or practice, but I love that you love being who you are, and that you support me to love being who I am on my own journey with God.
(8) You have faith in marriage. I don’t need to say much about this, except to acknowledge that marriage is hard, and you get it, and I get it, and in the face of what can feel like overwhelming odds from forces outside our control, you keep the faith in our love and commitment. That’s the stuff strong marriages are made of – and I wish more people had the courage to speak on it.
(9) You’re a New Yorker. Meeting you, the New Yorker, is a huge part of the reason I live in New York today, something I dreamed of as a little girl and never dreamed I’d actually accomplish. While I am frequently frustrated with the both of you – my husband and my home – I do love you both. So much. And no matter where we are in ten seconds, ten days or another ten years, I’ll always feel I got the better end of the deal.
(10) You know what home is about. Through the years, you never lose sight of what really matters. Home will always be with you. And that’s a reason to celebrate.
To the next ten, love.
Ryan Vale McGonigle