It may come as a shock to those of you who read my blog and have never seen me doubled over in tears or yelling mean things at the mirror when the house is empty, but I have self-esteem issues. Looking back on my romantic life, the types of girls I dated lined up almost perfectly with someone with the image issues that I have. With a few notable exceptions, they were all very needy and in many cases lonely with abandonment issues.
This was wonderful for me because while I don't think I'm needy, I do need to be needed. I gravitated towards women that I could support and hope to "save." I think part of it is because the chase was more fun, but it was more the idea that if she needed me, she would be less likely to leave.
Of course, this almost always was a terrible idea. Things ended long before they ended, but because of codependency issues on both parts, we rode them out to the horrid, bitter end, screaming at each other on a Friday night, her about how I hate her friends, me not screaming much at all because secretly, I'm glad it's finally ending, saving me from the hazards of trying to break up with a lunatic with abandonment issues.
Almost 9 years ago, I moved outside of my comfort zone and stated dating someone new. She was completely different from all of my previous girlfriends.
She didn't NEED me.
But I hoped that she wanted me. She found me funny and charming, but she was happily established in her own life with her own friends. She wasn't looking for a savior, or someone to replace a previous beau. She wasn't even looking for a boyfriend. She was smart, funny and made me feel good to be myself. I never felt as though I had to impress her because she liked me for who I was, instead of what I could take her away from.
I did my very best to the gentleman. I wasn't playing a role, but was calling on the little bit of gallantry that I have inside me. On our first date, I showed up to pick her up and her parents house in a shirt and tie with a rose in a fishbowl. I came inside and met her parents who, frankly, scared me a bit. I wanted to make a good impression on everyone but I felt like I was suddenly in high school in a movie from the early '50's, asking permission to please take Peggy Sue out for a malted, and yes, of course I will have her back before curfew.
The date went well.
During the spring semester of our senior year, we took a class together and I thought that if she still liked me at the end of it, we would be perfect together. It was a sociology class and because I was studying economics and because I'm a bit of a jerk, I figured I might be slightly obnoxious in the class.
That turned out to be true. How dare I ask for sources for the data that was being quoted!
My new girlfriend didn't leave me. She was a keeper.
After graduation, I got a teaching job outside of New York City and moved to New Jersey. For two years, we lived 300 miles apart and still saw each other at least twice a month. I drove out and stayed with her and her family, she drove out and stayed with me, but for the most part, we were separated.
Somehow, we weathered the distance and, I think, it made us stronger. I finally had had enough and moved back and we moved in together. She supported me emotionally and financially while I floundered to find a job and go to grad school.
At Christmas in 2006, I asked her to be my wife and she showed her terrible taste in men by saying yes. In two weeks from Saturday, we will have been married for 5 years.
It has not always been perfect, as nothing ever is, but it has been amazing. I am constantly amazed by how deeply I love her and how deeply she loves me. Our relationship has evolved and changed over the years, as things always do, but always for the better.
We have two gorgeous children, and as I have said before, no matter what happens, I will always be in her debt for giving me the gift of my girls. I am so thankful for everything that has done and everything that she is.
She is my rock in stormy weather, my partner, my heart, my love. I am not worthy of such an amazing woman. I am stronger for having her at my side and there is no one in the world with whom I would rather spend my life. I look forward to retiring to a small farm with her where we can keep chickens and sheep, have fresh eggs in the morning and I'll read on the porch (if books still exist) while she chases the sheep with knitting needles, screaming someone about sweaters.
Today, she turns 30 and, as much as I joke about hoping to die young so I don't have to grow old, I very much look forward to spending the next 30 years together. I want to be the old couple at a wedding who is the last to sit down during the anniversary dance.
She asked me last night about my post-30 goals and I told her that I didn't want to think about it because it only reminded me about the things I didn't do in my pre-30 years.
I did think about it last night though.
My post-30 goal is to spend the rest of my life living with and loving my wife. I want to raise our children to be happy, good, conscientious citizens, to retire somewhere where we can watch our children and grandchildren grew up and be happy.
She is one of the most amazing people I know and I am honored to be her husband, even though I don't always show it.
Happy birthday, Sara. I love you. You are my life and the other half of my soul. I am not always the best husband, but I love you with all of my heart and I will never stop striving to be a man worthy of being your husband.