On our anniversary, a love letter to my husband

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Years ago, our daughter gave us a very fine compliment.

Discussing her day over dinner one night, she reported that her high school “Issues” class was studying marriage. The teacher had told the students that a successful marriage has three elements: friendship, intimacy and passion.

“That’s you guys,” she said, looking toward her father and me. “I raised my hand,” she continued, “because I had lots of examples to share.”

I was thrilled, both because of the compliment, and because she has been observing what her parents tried to teach to her and to her brothers. My first, greatest, and longest lasting joy in life is my husband.

My children, of course, are my heart. They are as much a part of me as an arm or leg. Their joys are my joys; their sorrows are my sorrows (generally multiplied by a factor of two) and their fears are my fears (generally multiplied by a factor of ten). But my husband is the source of most of the good things in my life, and has been for the 34 years we have been married, and even before.

As the “Issues” teacher said, the basis of a successful marriage is friendship. According to the late, great Ann Landers, “Love is friendship that has caught fire.” That is indeed what happened in our case. We met sophomore year of college as part of a large group living in the same dorm. When I started making my interest known, it was his fear for our valued friendship that made him hesitate. However, after throwing myself at him (there is no more glamorous way to describe it), I wore down his resistance.

Yet as our relationship grew, the friendship remained at the very core. He has been at my side through medical school, residency, work, the births of four children, the struggles we have shared with our children over their challenges, not to mention countless Little League games, Back-to-School nights, and dance recitals. Eight years ago when I stepped out of the MRI scanner and told him that I had brain tumor, his first words were, “I wish it were me.”

There is no one I would rather be with, talk to, read with, or watch football with. We are about a micron apart on the political spectrum, but have managed to have countless heated discussions about it, nonetheless.

Intimacy is also a vital quality for a successful marriage. I can share anything with my husband, including every fear and every embarrassment. He is always in my corner. I can also expect good advice. Although I’d like to tell you that he agrees with everything I do, the truth is a bit different. He’s not afraid to gently chide me, or counsel me to approach a situation differently. He’s a much nicer person than I am; in fact, he’s the nicest person I know, so that makes his advice and criticism easier to take.

There are additional components beyond the three that the “Issues” teacher discussed. Commitment and compromise are vital. A lifetime together involves a lot of momentous decisions, and the ability to compromise is necessary to smooth the way. For example, my husband thought he wanted two children, and I wanted four. So we compromised on four and he is very happy that we did.

That issue aside, there have been a lot of compromises: about careers, about work hours, about whose needs will be met when. If you can’t compromise, a marriage can be sunk. And when compromise seems very distant, commitment to the relationship, to making sure that everything works out, and to hanging on even when it seems like it might not, can tide you over to better times.

Everyone knows about the passion part of marriage. What I didn’t know 34 years ago was that the passion only increases. The boy I married because I liked, loved and was attracted to him is now the man who held my hand in labor, who tenderly nurtured our children, who supported me through my personal crises and who has become a respected and admired professional. I still like him, I certainly love him, and I am more attracted to him than ever, but even that does not adequately express the passion I feel for him more than 34 years after he captured my heart.

I am the luckiest woman alive, and I know it. He made all of my dreams come true, including the most the most important one. He showed me that true love is real.

The lyrics from the old standard, I Remember You,  convey my feelings best:

When my life is through,
And the angels ask me to recall
The thrill of them all.
I will tell them I remember you.

 

Adapted from a piece that first appeared in February 2009.

  • Oh, happy anniversary! That’s so beautiful!

  • Mel

    Happy anniversary!

    My husband and I recently reached our third anniversary and celebrated by having Nico undergo gastric sleeve procedure!

    I didn’t fully comprehend how much my husband trusted me until he was coming out from under anesthesia and was uncomfortable from his incisions but couldn’t take any more pain meds until his breathing was working well enough to keep his O2 levels above 80*. I instructed him to push his PCA button and I told him the medicine was going into his line even though it wasn’t. I asked him if he felt better. He said yes.

    I ‘fessed up a few days later when he was feeling better. I was worried he would feel hurt or betrayed. He looked at me and said “Thanks, Mel. I just needed to know that someone knew I was hurting and I knew you’d take care of me.”

    *Turns out that a nasal cannula set at 1L/min can’t overcome a tiny nasal opening + life-long, weight-independent sleep apnea + a hospital bed that has his feet + head elevated while his abdomen was lower due to the CPR valve being open + the CPAP needing to be set up by a respiratory therapist who missed a page or something. The turning point was when I grabbed his nurse and explained that 1) having desats every 3 minutes for the last 90 minutes can’t be good and 2) I was fucking exhausted from leaving the house at 4am after 5 hours of sleep for a 7am surgery and it is now 2pm and I’m NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL so get someone in here who can either fix the problem or shake my husband – who is still coming off the anesthetic -awake to breathe every few minutes before I pass out on my feet. She got a PCA to replace me within 2 minutes. Nico was hooked up and in a bed that was shaped correctly within 10 minutes after that.

    My only regret is that it took me 90 minutes to wake up enough to realize that dealing with desats by having me say “Sweetie, you need to breathe through your nose” while rubbing his chest enough to wake him up wasn’t a great option. Plus, he was so sleepy that I’d say “Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth” and he’d be asleep before he heard the out portion.

    The rest of the surgery and post-op was great. The RN encouraged me to take a nap in the reclining chair and showed me how to hook up the heated option. The whole staff was really competent and friendly and made the rest of the stay quite pleasant for both of us.

    • mythsayer

      He’s going to do great! He will need lots more support from you but you’re clearly up to the task. I don’t know much about the gastric sleeve but I had a regular roux n y gastric bypass 11 years ago and went from 269 to 127 back to 180 after getting sick with something similar to lupus and having my daughter and now back down to 155. It’s the best thing I ever did for myself. You guys will both love the results. I felt so much better immediately. And I cried when I put a size 16 dress on the first time. I used to wear a size 2 but looked sick. Today I wore a size 8 🙂 give him lots of love and support! He will feel lots better soon!

  • Davidah

    Happy Anniversary! I also met my husband as a sophomore at the same institution as you (although we were in separate Houses). We just celebrated 19 years together and our love also continues to grow and grow. Congratulations!

  • Daleth

    Beautiful. Happy anniversary.

  • wookie130

    Have a wonderful day!

  • Karen in SC

    what a loving tribute! Congratulations!

  • Who?

    Congratulations.

    It is so special to be with someone who is always on your team, even if you don’t always agree.

  • FrequentFlyer

    Happy anniversary!

  • Gozi

    Happy anniversary! It is always refreshing to hear about married people who get along! I love the part about you throwing yourself at him!

  • Mishimoo

    Happy anniversary!! Hope you have many more years of love and happiness together.

  • MJ

    Happy anniversary to you both. Your words exactly mirror my own feelings about my wonderful husband. And I would add that when you have the kind of foundation in a marriage that you have described, life continues to surprise you with possibilities no matter how far down the road you are.

  • Angharad

    That’s really beautiful! It’s good to have someone to build a life with.

  • Chi

    Happy Anniversary! Here’s to many more exciting, fun, loving, joy-filled years for you both.

  • Megan

    Lovely! Happy anniversary! My husband and I just had our 12th anniversary last weekend. He has also been with me through medical school, residency, childbirth and many other challenges. It is so wonderful when you have a true partner in life. Like you, I also feel truly blessed.

  • Amazed

    Happy anniversary, Dr Amy!

  • RMY

    Happy anniversary!

  • Happy anniversary Dr. T – a successful marriage is a beautiful thing!

  • Rlbobg

    Today is my anniversary too– and although this is a second marriage for both of us, I feel exactly the same. We have five kids between us–” yours, mine and ours” and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • Amazed

      Happy anniversary to you as well!

    • Rlbobg

      Thank you! I am also an ObGyn, and agree with pretty much all of what Dr Amy says. I live in crunchy Northern California and it is Amazing what goes on here!!

  • Kq

    Happy, happy anniversary

  • yentavegan

    So wonderful. Thanks for sharing your happiness with us.

  • Jessica Burke

    Happy anniversary! Made me tear up.

  • Cobalt

    Very sweet.