|I know what we were feeling, but what were we thinking?|
On December 16th Julie and I celebrated our seventeenth anniversary. Truth be told, it wasn't much of a celebration; dinner at a Mexican restaurant and some last minute Christmas shopping. It was nice to spend time together and to not feel the need to prove our love to one another with extravagant gifts or overwrought overtures of love and devotion. There's real comfort in not depending grand gestures to make a case for your love like a lawyer in front of a skeptical jury.
There is no special significance to a seventeenth anniversary, but I wanted to write a little about my wife and why I married her. Now, it didn't hurt things that she was incredibly talented and drop dead gorgeous and had a sense of humour evolved enough to keep up with my machine gun repartee, but the reason I asked her to marry me was that when I was with her I wanted to be better than I was. It really was that simple. I aspired a little higher and something of her faith in other people rubbed off on me. In her company I was less cynical, less jaded and more like the kind of people I admired and wanted to emulate. There was no coercion on her part, only unconditional love, and I learned from her that nothing is more empowering than to feel loved without reservation. Her love has given me the freedom to fail (again and again and again) without fear of recrimination or condemnation. I am still a work in progress. There's a long ways left for me to go, but even though there have been moments of tedium and stagnation, there has been progress.
I feel indebted to her for every hug my children give me and every smile they share. I am a far from perfect father and despite everything I do they still embrace who I am. Julie does not hide or excuse my faults, but rather she contextualizes them. She helps them to see the efforts I am making instead of focusing on my stumbles or neglect. And because they trust her, they believe me to be what I am trying to be.
Her goodness and love of life and beauty are most reflected in the countenances of our children. There is a rich diversity of personalities in our family, and yet generosity and love of people and life are traits our children all hold in common. She has been willing to go without so that our children could have what they needed (she has been less willing to go without so I could have what I wanted, but I see that as a good thing). Because she is incapable of playing the martyr, our children have seen her sacrifices for the acts of love that they are, and they have worked to emulate that love to one another and to those outside of our family.
Over the last seventeen years, my goals have been simple: make her laugh from time to time and keep things interesting. Though she may no longer be laughing at the punchlines of my jokes, she still finds some humour in my delivery or maybe she gets a kick out of the fact that I still think I can get a laugh with some of jokes I tell. I never set conditions for why she laughed, only that she laughed. And as far a as keeping things interesting, well, we live in downtown Abu Dhabi. I don't know how things could be more interesting.
She has embraced each new adventure with faith and optimism. To say that our life hasn't gone exactly as planned would be a bit of an understatement. In any given moment, so many of our decisions have seemed random or chaotic, but when taken as a whole, there is a clear pattern of opportunity and growth in our family. We like who we are and we would not be the same with some of the stress and chaos and change. Her willingness to embrace that change has shown us how to grow from our challenges instead of surrendering to them.
Our marriage is not without its moments of long-suffering, miscommunications, and outright disagreements, but even in those moments, there is the confidence that we're no more than a good night's sleep (or maybe two) away from a resolution. It's true that there have been days that have been long and difficult and we have had more than our share of uncertainty and doubt, but as we inevitably come together to face whatever challenge lies before us, we find that between us we've got mettle enough to take on whatever comes our way.
|Fortunately, she's always smiled enough|
for the both of us.
|Life in Abu Dhabi. A little bit of green and a whole lot of glass, steel|