Chris and I have been together a long time. At the end of April, it will be 12 years total together and in June it will be our sixth wedding anniversary. In that period of time, we’ve said a lot of things to each other.
I’m proud and happy that if you tallied it up, we’ve probably said, “I love you” more than anything else over the years. Not all couples can say that. So, that’s a good thing. On the flip side, we’ve probably said almost just as often, “You’re driving me freaking crazy right now!” We’ve also had our fair share of “Did you really just say that?” and “Your feet/breathe/hair/armpits/whatever stinks.”
But nothing changes a couple’s conversations more than having children together. I find us saying things to each other and to the people around us these days that I never, ever imagined coming out of either of our mouths.
Me: Don’t shoot your sister.
Chris: Go shoot your granddad instead.
Me: We’re outnumbered now.
Chris: Yeah, but we’re still taller than them.
Chris: You look pretty for a pregnant woman.
Me: We don’t put waffles/crackers/airplanes/Legos up our nose.
Chris: Bean’s locked in the laundry room.
Me: At least we know where he is.
Chris: Is that the best you can swaddle?
Yep. Life changes your language. But in those quiet moments when no one is listening, I still hear the same familiar words we’ve always said to each other.
Chris: You’re my favorite person.
Me: I love that you come home to me.
Chris: There’s no one I’d rather be here with.
Me: You’re the most important person to me.
When you’ve been together for a long time and, especially if you have children, it can be hard to remember to say these things. I think I sometimes forget to say them because I just assume Chris already knows. I mean, I’ve been saying the same things for 12 years. Surely, he doesn’t need me to say them again.
But that’s the thing about the power of words. They only get their power when they’re spoken. And I know when I hear Chris say something kind and thoughtful and meaningful to me, my heart flips over. Even after all these years. Even after hearing it said countless times before. I still catch my breath and then smile from the inside out.
It’s especially important for our marriage when we’re going through times like right now. When things are a little more chaotic than normal and we’re readjusting to a new routine and way of doing things. When minutes seem like hours and nights seem endless. When we’re tired and stressed. When we have two children who are observing our interactions quite literally from the day they are born. Those are the times when we need to hear those words the most.
There are lots of reasons why Chris and I are happily married. We work hard to stay happy. We make time for each other. We prioritize our marriage above everything else. We allow for frustrations and anger and everything in between. But if I had to define one specific action we take that makes our marriage work, it is what we say to each other. We have ups and downs just like anyone else. We have low days and weeks and months. We get angry and hurt. We argue. We grow. We go through everything that other couples go through. But what always brings us back to center are our words.
No one talks to me more kindly than my husband and I hope he can say the same thing about me.