Why My Husband Is So Special
When I was about 24, my best friend was dating this fellow our group of friends called the ideal boyfriend. He looked like a model out of GQ magazine and he had a good job in finance. Yeah, we knew he was a player, but my best friend didn’t care about that. He took her to the hippest restaurants. He sent huge bouquets of roses to her workplace. Her coworkers told her how lucky she was. When the time came to propose, he popped the question during a flight to Belize, where he was taking her for a splashy vacation. Always one for a show, he had the pilot read his proposal over the PA system. When she said “yes,” all the passengers clapped for them.
Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last long. It turns out (surprise!) the guy was great at showmanship but he wasn’t very good at the quiet, unseen gestures of love and intimacy. All the showy bouquets delivered to her office couldn’t make up for his inability to do the small, non-public acts that grownup love requires to sustain itself.
I remember at the time that I wanted to have a boyfriend like hers. One who would show the world how much he loved me by dramatic acts that everyone could see. I was so jealous of her! My boyfriends were mostly introverts, guys who would never want to be center stage, especially when it came to making declarations of love.
Now I’m in my forties, married to a great man for 15 years. I consider myself the luckiest woman in the world. No, he doesn’t shower me with expensive gifts. We don’t eat out at the latest must-try restaurants. He never broadcasts public statements of his love for me. But he taught me what real, deep love is made of: genuine acts of kindness, done each day. Small gestures that show I’m special to him. And this makes him special to me.
One of the life-truths I’ve discovered in my adulthood is that I have less of a need for large, demonstrative shows of love, and more of a desire to see these small, quotidian symbols of intimacy. I think the word I’m searching for is normal. Just give me normal. I don’t need anything theatrical.
The other night, my husband roasted a chicken for dinner. He knows it is one of my favorite meals. This morning, I found him standing in the kitchen, slicing some of the leftover meat off the carcass. I asked him what he was doing. He said,” I’m going to make you a sandwich with this. You can take it to work.”
I found this gesture so touching because this is what genuine care and kindness is all about: just a daily task done out of love for me. It wasn’t some big gift, or expensive piece of jewelry, or loud public gesture of his feelings for me. It touched me because it was private, understated, and authentic. It was just someone taking care of me, making sure I had a delicious lunch. And he does this type of thing every day.
I’m at the age where some of my friends have divorced and are back in the dating pool. The other day, I met up with my newly divorced friend Suzanne to hear how things were going. She’d met a “fantastic guy” and was eager to tell me all about him. She said, “He’s so romantic, he never lets me pay for a thing. Always brings me something—gorgeous flowers or an expensive bottle of wine.” I’m seriously glad for her, but I’m hoping that this new man will also give Suzanne things that are out of the dating playbook, like listening to her when she talks, checking in with her during the day just to say he’s thinking about her, and being there through both good and bad times. I hope one day he will makes her a sandwich and she realizes that is just as much a proof of love as the expensive stuff he gives her.
Ultimately, this is where true grownup love lives. It’s not in the public show. The connective tissue holding our relationships together is made up of these small yet recurring gestures of taking care of each other. That is something my husband does, naturally, and that is why he is so special to me. I couldn’t care less about the big demonstrations of love. When I see him in the kitchen, shredding chicken to make me my favorite sandwich, my heart melts. I feel seen, appreciated, and loved.
When I was younger, my vision of what love would look like involved the typical things that women’s magazines showed: a handsome, well-to-do man who would whisk me away on a surprise trip, or ask me to close my eyes while he put a diamond necklace around my neck. Now I realize this is not really true love. Thankfully, I met my husband and realized that there were other, more realistic ways that a man could show his deep affection. My husband taught me that real love comes in packages that aren’t physical packages at all. I am so grateful to be his wife.