So, here we are: you and me. And we have been together now for more years than we have been apart from one another.
I am impressed but mainly so very grateful that you have stuck things out with me for the good and the bad. For the better and the worse. Through all of the ups and downs of having children, dealing with huge emotional messes and triumphs. And don’t forget about all of the rest of it. You know what I am talking about.
This all came delivered as a package deal sealed with a kiss in the beginning, as does at the beginning of almost any other relationship. The difference is that some don’t last. I will be forever grateful that ours has lasted and stood the test of time.
And I have just three words to say to you: please don’t stop.
Please don’t stop loving me. Ever.
I may have seemed to be one tough cookie when you met me back in college at the age of 21, but after 23 more years, I have softened up a bit. I am a little less secure in some areas of my life, as I have known loss and heartache in too many intimate ways during our years together. And even before we met—too many to count.
I ‘blame’ you in the kindest of ways for introducing me to and giving me the gift of vulnerability. You have loved me up so much that I started to trust that it would be okay to let my guard down somewhere along the way. Never before had I done this—thus the facade of the tough cookie you met when you were but 19 years old and shook my hand outside of our calculus class.
You gave me the freedom to become emotionally and physically exposed, as I finally started knowing that you would never leave me.
You reinforce this openness that I now have each time you stand by my side or sleep in the bed next to me and I know that you will be there when I wake up or when you come home to me day after day.
Please don’t stop writing love letters to me.
You have no idea how much they mean. I have them all saved in a special box that you probably do not even know exists.
They all live happily in that box right next to the ticket stubs from the movies, concerts and other special events that we’ve attended along our journey together.
They also lay by that silly McDonald’s Happy Meal toy (a pneumatically powered dinosaur) that came with the Happy Meal that you brought me as a peace-offering for showing up late to an engineering laboratory class—your first present to me.
You didn’t know then my disdain for fast food, so I ate that burger with as much gusto as I could muster in front of you.
Please don’t stop saving my kisses.
You know the ones I’m talking about. The first one I gave you was at school when I happened upon your car in the parking lot.
I tore a small piece of paper from my binder, put on some lipstick and kissed the scrap of paper. I left it under the windshield-wiper blade of your car outside of the chemistry building.
This was way before we ever kissed or said those other three little words to each other. You know the ones that I am talking about.
I debated going back to remove the paper kiss and crumple it up, just in case you might not know who left it there for you. But back then I was a bit more gutsy with my heart than I am today. And as it turned out, you were as smart as I had predicted and knew exactly who left it for you, which made my heart sing.
Please don’t stop calling me out on my bullshit.
Yes, I am a manipulator who likes to be right and have her way. I’m still not sure if I was born that way or honed my skills through the years. But you absolutely will not put up with my crap and I love that.
This was not made clear in our marriage vows, but the fact that you stand up to me and my debating ways was one of the main reasons I chose you, my dear husband, for life.
I love and admire how you are so much smarter than me in so many ways. (But not in all ways, she wrote with a wink and an all-knowing grin).
Please don’t stop listening to me.
I know I can go on and on while you say “uh-huh” or “yep”. But it still matters that you don’t tell me to stop talking. You may be half engaged in the conversation, unless I let you know that it is serious, but I don’t mind so much anymore.
It used to infuriate me. I recall once when you were so into what you were doing on your computer that I asked you to get the laundry three stories down as I was very pregnant. The laundry may or may not have existed, but it gave me time enough to hide your keyboard and all of the computer cables. And yes, you were furious.
Now, I have mellowed a bit and realize that sometimes I only half listen as well. And it’s okay—As long as it’s not serious.
Please don’t stop having a life that is separate from mine in addition to the one that you share with me.
I love that you have friends that I don’t know well and a life at work that I don’t know everything about. I never wanted to be joined at the hip with you and I like the fact that we both have private parts to our lives and share the other parts.
If I had to share everything with you, I would feel as if I were living two lives and that would be way too overwhelming to bear. Yes, I love that we have grown together, while keeping aspects of ourselves private and separate.
Please don’t stop loving my body.
I know my body is not what it looked like when I was 21, but I know you understand. After bearing our three precious children, six years of nursing and 23 years of life, it is still here for you in the same way that it was when we met. Waiting to be kissed and hugged and loved. Please don’t ever forget no matter our age that I still need that.
Please don’t stop being sexy.
This is not a hard request. just breath in and out, be yourself and spend some time around me and it will all work out.
You are sexy without even trying to be. You are smart and generous. You never seem to give up trying to figure something out when it comes to fixing a problem. You naturally remain a bit mysterious due to having your own life apart from mine and let’s not leave out your amazing smile, nice legs and your hands. Oh yes, your hands. Please don’t stop.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives, author’s own