“It’s late in the evening, she’s wondering what clothes to wear.  She puts on her makeup, and brushes her long blonde (well, black) hair, and then she asks me, ‘do I look alright’ And I say ‘yes, you look wonderful tonight.’ ”

For 31 years it has been my privilege to share life with Jan.  And one of the things I have loved, for ever and ever, is watching her choose what to wear, put on makeup (as if she needs any) and fix her hair.  I have many times sat nearby just to watch this.  It is an intimate thing that many young men may not understand, especially early in their roles as husbands.  But when a woman is doing this, she is trying to express who she is to the world, marking herself as unique and individual, asserting her own beauty.  It is a complex and very ancient thing, one which men often overlook as we shuffle through a few rumpled shirts and slacks and often fail to match colors very well.  (After a woman is ready she will often gently help a man do a slightly better job.  After all, she deserves more than old jeans and a ball-cap.  She made the effort to catch her man’s eye.  It’s why she says ‘do I look alright?’)

“We go to a party, and everyone turns to see, this beautiful lady, that’s walking along with me.  And then she asks me, ‘Do you feel alright?’ And I say ‘yes, I feel wonderful tonight.’ ”

No matter what we go through, my wife cares how I am.  She is selfless and kind.  And despite the fact that I was a slow learner as a husband (but aren’t we all?), she has never given up and has always made me better, always made me secure, always taken care that I am well.  She brings that grace to our marriage, without which I would have been an utter failure. In fact, all that I do and am is tied to our union.  Those things are part of who I am and she is part of who I am.

“I feel wonderful, because I see the love light in your eyes, and the wonder of it all, is that you just don’t realize, how much I love you.”

I could never fully express my love for this woman.  I know that she could have done so much better, but I am a richer, happier man because she was willing to take a chance.  Young men remember, when a woman is willing to give you her heart it is a treasure of the highest order. And it means that despite your (our) obvious shortcomings, she will go with you and stay with you on the grand adventure of marriage and life, work and struggle, parenthood, sickness, health and all the rest.  In her heart, she makes her vow before any service is performed.

“It’s time to go home now, and I’ve got an aching head. So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed.  And then I tell her, as I turn out the light, I say ‘my darling, you are wonderful tonight.  Oh my darling, you are wonderful tonight.’ ”

The makeup, the hair, the jewelry, the dinner or party, all of these are grand.  But the return home to change clothes, to be elemental, to rest without pretense, to decompress, laugh, share stories and debrief the evening.  Heaven.  To lie in each other’s arms (or not, if the AC isn’t working), to enjoy the the comfort of the the goodnight kiss, the plans for the next morning, the rising and falling breath of sleep, the way one of us has to turn the television off while the other fades into dreams, well all of that is true bliss.

Jan, darling, you are wonderful tonight.  And every night.

Happy Anniversary. I love you always, all ways.



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