I’m going to be honest with you. In our two decades of marriage, I have never known exactly what our roles are. It’s never been clear to me. I’ve always been confused about hierarchy in our household.
See, when I was a kid I was led to believe that males were supposed to “wear the pants” of the family. But that’s not you and me.
I became acutely aware of this about ten minutes into our marriage when you signed all the checks, paying the wedding florists, photographers, and caterers. Then you wrote a check to me.
I asked what my check was for.
You replied, “It’s your monthly allowance.”
I quickly realized that I would not be wearing the proverbial pants. In fact, I would be wearing the proverbial cutoff jean shorts, like the shorts my cousin Beverly wears when she wants attention.
And I’m okay with that.
Because the truth is, you’re stronger than I am. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. It’s just a fact.
Used to, it made me feel like less of a man to know that my wife was made of tougher mettle than I was. But not anymore. No, these days I’m just proud to be married to such a sturdy person.
And you are sturdy. That’s why you’re the one who does the important stuff in our life. You do the planning, the organizing, the deep thinking, the bill-paying, the technical troubleshooting.
You are the one who keeps our world going. Without you, it’s a mess.
Which is why after you went to Canada for your friend’s wedding, the day you returned home, the fire department was parked in our front lawn. Sirens flashing. The fireman informed you that it was the third time they’d visited our house in the last week. He also took away my deep-fryer.
Also, you are a powerful woman. Not just psychologically, but in body. When I had back surgery, for example, and the doctor told me that I shouldn’t lift anything over ten pounds, you became the family muscle.
I have seen you move pianos, wheelbarrows of fertilizer, concrete bird baths, and I have witnessed you pushing dead Fords onto the shoulders of busy intersections.
And one time, I watched you dazzle a small audience at the Hampton Inn and Suites by carrying your heavy husband across the threshold of our room on our sixteenth wedding anniversary.
Ah, but you are more than biceps and quadriceps. You are kind and humble at heart.
In my life I have met some stellar people. But I have never met anyone who digs as deeply into the vat of lovingkindness as you. Of course, I could cite examples of your good deeds here, but you wouldn’t want me to. So I won’t.
After all, you don’t perform these acts of goodwill for your own vainglory. You hardly even think twice about helping others. You do these acts of selflessness because you simply can’t help yourself. It’s just who you are.
For me personally, however, I think more than anything, you have taught me how to be a better human being. You have pulled me through some dark places.
It’s no secret that I come from a screwed up homelife. My whacked out childhood did a number on me. And I am still paying the price. Nobody tells you that sometimes the aftershocks of a traumatic boyhood wait about forty years to resurface.
But you have helped me find my way through hell. You’re still helping me find my way.
Case in point. As a boy, after my father’s suicide, I used to have nightmares. Since my youth, I have had night terrors. Nearly every night. There wasn’t an evening when I didn’t have one. The doctors said I might never get over this aspect of my post-traumatic stress.
But guess what, I kinda did. Because of you.
Whenever I would awake in cold sweats, squinting into the darkness with fear, there you were. You were lying beside me in our bed. I could feel your warmth.
Intuitively, you would sense what was happening inside my troubled brain. You’d curl yourself against me and just hold me. And I would find myself again. I would feel myself fall back into a calm reality. I would find my anchor.
My anchor. That’s what you are. It sounds clichéd, but it’s true. You are what holds me in place when the Gulf waters are choppy. You are that powerful piece of iron that digs into the seafloor and keeps me from going adrift. You are the object which refuses to let me, or anyone else you love for that matter, fall aimlessly into the night. You are the reason I believe in God.
In other words, you wear the pants. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.