It was the afternoon of June 16, 2012, and Jim and I were puttering around the house while Lil’ Bit napped, when suddenly he made a horrible face and slapped his hand to his forehead, cursing under his breath.
“What? What is it?!” I asked, mildly alarmed.
“I forgot to get you an anniversary card.”
I stared at him in open-mouthed incredulity, which he clearly misread on every possible level.
“Don’t worry,” he sighed. “I’ll go out and get one tonight.”
“Oh, well thanks,” I said snidely. “How thoughtful of you.”
“Well, what do you want me to say?” he asked with an edge of defensiveness.
“You didn’t have to say anything at all!” I replied, thoroughly exasperated. “It’s the middle of the afternoon – our anniversary’s not ’till tomorrow! You could have just told me you had to run an errand and I would have been none the wiser. You think when I forget to do something important at work, I go running to my boss to rat myself out? NO!!! I fucking fix it and hope to God no one finds out!”
“Well, it’s not like I forgot our anniversary altogether,” he reasoned in the wake of this diatribe. “I said I’d get you a card!”
“Don’t do me any favors,” I spat back.
I forget what happened next. Except I know it involved a fight… on the eve of our anniversary.
But I don’t remember the details, save for the frustration of feeling that, try as I might, I could not get him to understand that I didn’t care about a stupid card. What mattered most to me was the sentiment behind it – sentiment that I couldn’t help but feel was lacking on his part, given his general attitude.
Was our anniversary just an imposition to him, I wondered? And if so, did it reflect the way he felt about our entire marriage?
I was still smarting the following day when I received an e-mail from him. Inside was a Word attachment and a simple message, for my husband is a man of few words.
Happy Anniversary. Love, Jim
And so I opened the attachment and began to read…
On this anniversary, I wanted to list 10 reasons why I’m grateful to be married to you:
1. I’m grateful for all of the dinners you prepare after a long day of work.
2. I’m grateful for all of the laundry you do every weekend, even when time is short.
3. I’m grateful for your support as I started my new job.
4. I’m grateful to be with someone who is smart, funny, and a talented writer.
5. I’m grateful for finding surprising new places where we can go to get away.
6. I’m grateful to be with someone who lets me watch both college and pro sports.
7. I’m grateful that you stick with me when times are difficult.
8. I’m grateful that you’re such a great mother to our little girl.
9. I’m grateful that you introduced me to wine and wineries.
10. I’m grateful that you decided to have a big night out in Centreville 10 years ago.
Okay… so he’s no Robert Browning. Although I was impressed by the way he deftly balanced his gratitude to me for such trivialities as doing laundry and watching sports with important fundamentals like devotion, commitment, and wine education.
Regardless, I was touched. For Jim, this was vulnerable and expressive – even downright soul-baring. It was all I needed to reassure me that neither anniversary nor marriage in general were an imposition to him. And that he was not lacking in sentimentality, but merely the good sense God gave him when it comes to Things You Say to Your Wife… and Things You Don’t.
And so as we close the book on our seventh year of marriage and dive headlong into our eighth, I’m willing to forego the cards and the fanfare and simply say to my husband…
Editor’s Note: That “big night out in Centreville” (i.e. the night we met) is another story for another day. And it’s a good one.