In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye approaches his wife of twenty-five years and asks, “Do you love me?” She balks. “Do I WHAT?”
He persists to ask the question, and she responds, “I’ve washed your clothes cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children…why talk about love right now?” He persists still, and she reflects, “I’ve lived with him, fought with him, starved with him…my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?”
“Then you love me?” he prods.
“I suppose I do.”
This song has been on my mind lately. Do I love my husband? Sure, if you must ask. But most minutes of most days, it’s just dishes and gardens, dental appointments and bedtime rituals. I talk to him over the tops of small heads, and my hands (the ones that used to hold his) are usually full of little people or dishes. I could tick off a number of his flaws because I have a front row seat to his inner life.
But do I LOVE him?
I suppose I do.
But I know that my feelings run deeper when I take time to reflect. So today I’m being more intentional.
I love him because…
He STAYS. A non-kin male who is willing to share a life with me. I am occasionally moralizing, bossy, and insecure. But he ASKED me to marry him anyway, and he is committed to stick it out. That “I love you no-matter-what” commitment deserves my utmost gratitude.
He eats veggies for me. Recently he choked down polenta with spinach and mushrooms on the side. I mean CHOKED it down. He even feigned thanks through nausea. That’s love.
He forgives the pessimistic generalizations that I make about our marriage and world affairs after 10pm (note: a Jenny should never have serious conversations after bedtime hours. My werewolfish thoughts turn angry and tragic as soon as the sun sets).
He works a 4am job (PLUS research and teaching assistantships PLUS a full-time PhD program) so I can stay home with our girls! It is my dream job, made possible by his daily sacrifices.
He values my dreams. Case in point: he watches the girls every time I teach REFIT®. He asks about the books I’m reading. He is complicit to my dinner-hosting, cookie-delivering attempts to be neighborly. Usually he’ll even bake the cookies.
Speaking of baking, he’s taken to making two loaves of whole wheat bread for me every Saturday–because it’s what I crave under my breakfast eggs every morning.
He lets Lucy bake with him. If you’ve ever tried cooking with a toddler, you know that this is true love—inefficient, frustrating, and patience-embuing.
He does all of the vacation driving. While I CAN drive, I find infinitely greater enjoyment in the passenger seat.
He’s thoughtful. Like when he planned a surprise baby shower. Or the time that he wrote a love note every day for an entire month.
He doesn’t talk bad to me or about me. Ever. Even when I deserve it, he refuses to speak unkindly.
He does the gross things in our home (and no, I’m not talking about flatulence). Part of his chivalrous man code is that men are responsible for the dirty work in the home. Translation: he cleans the slimy gunk out of the shower drain and scrubs the scum out of the dish disposal. Googly eyes.
So do I love him?
YES! Yes, I do.