Chad and I have been married for nine years. Those nine years have been marked by different events and milestones, every year bringing something new. I hope it is always like that: that our marriage is an adventure that continually requires faith and commitment and growth. Some years, we started new jobs or new businesses; some years we experienced heartache and loss and illness; some years we busied ourselves with classes and projects and home renovations. This year, we added a member to our family.
It wasn’t long into our ninth year of marriage that we found out we were pregnant. And it wasn’t long after that moment that I started feeling the changes happening in my belly, starting with consistent morning sickness. From the start of this journey, Chad has taken care of me. I would have never asked him to cook dinner almost every night, to pick up my slack around the house, to make sure I was drinking water and taking care of the tiny one inside me, but I didn’t have to ask. He took up these tasks without complaining or hesitating because he cares so deeply about me, our marriage, and our family.
Beyond the physical aspects of being pregnant, I struggled throughout my pregnancy to come to terms with our decision to have children and to face my changing identity. Chad took care of me there too, allowing me to grieve our losses as a couple and look ahead honestly to what life would be like with a baby. He let me express every doubt and fear, especially when others didn’t seem to understand.
And amidst the pregnancy, Chad took care of me and encouraged me as I finished my last semester of graduate school and worked diligently at my fellowship position. And I tried my best to return that care to him as he finished his own set of classes and studies, and continued to work hard at his job as well. I think this is a lesson we have learned through nine years of marriage: we must take on the care of the other person when their focus is elsewhere or they can’t quite manage it on their own.
In May, we flew to Greece for a bit of rest amid all the busy-ness. We ate and explored and walked hand-in-hand down flower-covered streets. We talked about our future travels and how they would be different with a baby and later a child (or a couple of them). We thought delicately about what we would have to give up, but also mused about what we would gain and what would be richer in sharing it with our own little ones.
Chad continued to care for me in ways I couldn’t have imagined through the summer. He read and researched, learning how to best support me in labor. He encouraged me to think beyond my fears, to imagine what delivery could be. Most of all, night after night, he created space for us to be together and get ready for the baby. And then came our son. Chad literally held me up during labor, caring for me in the most tangible ways. For three weeks after, he cared for both me and Samuel day and night as we all got to know each other and made this big transition together. Looking to his first day back to work, he told me my only job was to care for Samuel.
And that has been year nine — relentless care. Chad cared for me while I did my best to care for our little one. Care seems like a simple, maybe obvious lesson for marriage, but I think we often take it for granted, forgetting how important it is, how central it is to intimacy and partnership. Caring for your spouse is, perhaps, the whole goal of marriage. It’s about being there for each other, supporting each other through all the trials and challenges, and standing side-by-side, hand-in-hand as you take the next step, the next big adventure together.
Chad, I have always felt lucky to be loved by you. This year has been no exception. Your care for me and Samuel has been relentless. Right from the first moment we found out he was coming, you cared for me and helped me to care for him. The last few weeks before he was born were some of the sweetest of our marriage — walks around the lake, candlelit evenings looking through photos and reading old emails, working through our fears and doubts, imagining what it would be like when our baby arrived … You have always been the reason I knew I could do this. Your pride in me when Samuel was born was so meaningful and seeing you with him in the weeks since has been amazing. And all this on top of our regular responsibilities and relationships … I am so lucky to have you as my husband, and Samuel is so lucky to have you as his dad. Thanks for caring for us so well. Happy anniversary, love.