With bellies miserably full of Thai Beef and Noodles, he washed and I dried. Alexa was playing Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran in the background.
When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks
“We’ll start our low carb diet tomorrow. This time for real” I said with conviction to my husband, Sean.
He nodded in agreement.
He’s heard it before. But he knows my weaknesses after 25 years together, noodles being at the top of the list. I overeat and then complain. Instead of judging me, he grabs a bottle of wine and some dark chocolate (more weaknesses . . . this man really knows me) and sits down at the table to continue our quiet, stay-at-home Valentine’s Day celebration.
“So, who wants to go first?” he asks.
Earlier in the day I told him I wanted to have the First Date from John and Julie Gottman’s new book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.
“I do!” I said, not giving him a chance to respond.
Date “1” is Lean on Me: Trust and Commitment. After reading that chapter earlier in the day, I had compiled a list of things I cherish about Sean. While there were many things on my list, there were ten that stood out. I envisioned sharing in David Letterman Top 10 List fashion.
When we cherish our partner, we have a deep feeling that they are irreplaceable. We simply cannot imagine our lives without them, even when times are rough. We find ways to tell them that we appreciate them, and do that often. Cherishing and commitment go together, but they are different. Commitment is really a verb because it is the actions we take daily to let our partner know we are with them, that we make decisions with them in mind.
When we choose commitment, we resist temptation to betray our partner. We create trust and safety by turning towards them to work out our differences. Gratitude is nurtured by knowing what we have rather than focusing on what we don’t have. There is no gossiping or trashing of our partner to others.
Sean and I have had our share of difficult times, that’s for sure. When our son was a colicky infant we leaned on each other for support despite being sleep deprived and cranky with one another. When my mother and beloved dog both died in the same year, I had a hard time shaking off my depression. We argued more than ever and found ourselves in couples counseling. Despite these and other challenges, we never gave up on one another.
The incident that sealed the deal for me though was when I had a health crisis 12 years ago. My mysterious illness had the medical community stumped and I was terrified. Our lives were turned upside down for months on end with scary symptoms and no treatment. My life and my outlook were forever changed. It wasn’t until I got a diagnosis and learned to manage my chronic symptoms that I could reflect on how it changed us as a couple.
I had been too absorbed in my own fear to recognize how my husband was scared too. His life was also forever changed. But instead of complaining he expressed cherishing and commitment by supporting me through my illness in ways that I took for granted at the time. He rubbed my back when I was scared. He drove me to the Emergency Room in the middle of the night on countless occasions. When I had to change my diet, he joined me. He developed a patience with me that had not been there before. He was less quick to anger over small stuff and he started leaving love notes for me.
While he never came out and said it, almost losing me made him realize how much I meant to him. I felt loved and cared for. We now joke that my near-death experience is the secret to our long marriage.
As I compiled my Top10 List I realized I was describing our everyday life. Playing and laughing together, and that we get each other’s sense of humor. Raising a child and dogs together, a connection that is precious to us but was often fraught with stress, cleaning up bodily functions and money we could have spent in far more fun ways. Being comfortable to be myself with Sean and having my faults and bad habits accepted. And that includes bingeing on noodles knowing full well I will complain about it afterwards.
The song was still playing as I started reading my list.
So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are
Yes, I believe we have found love right where we are. And I could hardly wait to tell him.