|August 5 1993|
We don't look exactly like this anymore, but the smiles are still the same.
Periodically either Howard or I have a breakdown of sorts and we end up tearfully asking the question "Why on earth do you put up with me?" When I am the one asking, Howard doesn't even pause for though before he rattles off a list of things about me that he can't do without. He tells me I'm wonderful and does it in a way that I have to believe him. Why do I put up with him? Because he doesn't have to pause to think for an answer to that question and because he keeps listing things until I feel better.
I am not the person I was when Howard and I met. We have grown into each other and taken on some of each other's attributes. Howard taught me how to be aggressive and handle confrontations. Early in our marriage I just handed off all of those to him, but over the years I've watched him and learned. Now I can handle anything from asserting about a billing mistake to telling a family member a necessary but unpleasant truth. Howard's self assurance was something I admired and over the years I've managed to make some of it my own. I love Howard's ambition. He is never content unless he is reaching for a goal or pursuing a project. I love that and I do all I can to help his dreams come true. I can throw myself 100% behind his endeavors because I know without a doubt that he will abandon those dreams should I or the family need him to do so. I can not count the number of times that he has dropped everything to come to my rescue. The rescues have varied in scope from small to huge, but he was there for me when I needed him most.
I love that anytime I come to Howard with an interest or hobby or dream that I want to pursue, he supports me 100% in whatever decision I make. At every turn, in every conversation, he affirms his belief in my intelligence and capability. At times when we disagree about a course of action, he never implies that my preference is stupid or lesser.
I love that he makes me laugh and that he laughs for me. I love all the stupid running jokes that we have which evolve over months or years of interactions. I love how he deliberately builds such jokes with the kids. I love that he makes me laugh even when I'm in tears over the tragedy of the day.
I love watching Howard as a father. I love the very different relationships he has constructed with each of the kids. I love the silly games they play together. I love how when I'm at my wits end trying to manage four kids, Howard steps in and backs me up with his big Daddy voice. I love the times he shushes the kids so that I can take a nap. I love the times when he assigns work to kids so that I won't have to. I love having a tag-team partner in managing kids.
Why do I put up with him? Because he has grown to be so much a part of myself that I couldn't remove him without ripping all that I am apart and building it new. Because I am stronger, surer, better than I could be without him. Because he sees the good in me when I can't. Because 14 years ago I promised to be with him forever and it was the best decision I've ever made.