Four years ago, you came down the aisle to meet me with a calm, glowing, otherworldly confidence. And although I didn’t know what I was getting into, I knew it was good – very good.
I was right.
I know it’s a little embarrassing for me to publicly thank you for the ways you’ve been an excellent wife, but it’s kind of biblical. Recall that Proverbs 31:31 says of a virtuous wife, “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
Since city gates have fallen out of fashion in the last few centuries, I figured the next best place for your works to bring you praise is in my writing. So please bear with me – these are the words of a man who is still very much smitten by you.
The day of our wedding, I thought you were getting a near-perfect man – then we got home from the honeymoon. I discovered that in addition to my loving side, there was a self-centered, insecure ninth-grader lurking within. That side of me was easier to hide before sharing space with a woman whose opinion meant so much to me.
And when you met that other side of me, you pushed back (thank God). I was puzzled by your response and unsure what to do, but you made it clear what was needed: change. That wasn’t going to happen overnight (and in some cases, it wasn’t going to happen very much at all). But rather than grow bitter or perpetually annoyed with a man who is such a slow learner, you gradually became more patient, more loving, and wiser.
Your wisdom – godliness even – was most evidenced by your willingness to be the first to change, the first to forgive, and the first to forget what we were fighting about. Your grace was contagious, and over time, I began changing too – almost involuntarily – in response to your goodness.
Thank you. You’ve made me a better man by being a better woman than I ever deserved.
You don’t know how many times, as a single man, jaded married people warned me, “Once you start having kids, it’s not about romance anymore. It’s about survival.” It was enough to make me think I would be better off never settling down.
Thank God I settled down with you. We still go on dates, still eye each other from across the room, and we still like each other – not just love each other – very much. Sure, it takes work; but it’s work you’re more than willing to do, even after having two children.
Thank you. I know it would be easier to focus all your attention on good parenting, but you put an equal focus on something just as important: a good marriage.
I fancied myself a spiritual man back in my single days. Then we got married, and you wanted to pray, study scripture together, and incorporate various spiritual disciplines into our lives on a regular basis. I was surprisingly put off by the idea.
I didn’t mind praying quickly before we went to sleep or being involved in church, but the idea of a just-you-and-me church retreat felt like overkill. We went back and forth about it for while, but then you eventually stopped asking me about it as much – and I’m pretty sure you started praying about it more. I believe that was what made the difference.
Though your prayers haven’t been fully answered, there are signs of improvement. I’m more comfortable praying honest prayers in front of you, and we’re able to study the Bible together without fighting now.
Thank you for praying. God knows how spiritually dry our marriage would be otherwise.
Anyone who knows us well knows we’re not the perfect couple. But if they’ve known us since we got married, they also know that we’re not the same as when we started. Thank God our marriage is still growing into a relationship that looks much more like those wedding vows we made four years ago.
And thank you. You deserve more of the credit for it than you know.