10 Years

For the last few weeks, I’ve been binge watching the horribly trashy TV show, Love Is Blind. I took a few years off of reality shows, and it has been deliciously awful to dive back into them. This show certainly doesn’t make you think critically about life or love, but in each episode, the same questions come up among participants. “How do you know you love him?” or “What made you fall in love with her?” The show participants, who have known each other for only 10 days before getting engaged, of course respond with cookie cutter answers.

She is so funny

He cares about people and makes me feel special

I love how close she is with her family

He listens to me

Eventually, after about 20 episodes of hearing these questions/answers repeated, it started to make me think about my own relationship– my marriage to Isaac. 3/9/23 marked our 10 year wedding anniversary. How would I have answered those questions 10-15 years ago? How would I answer them now? Because even though our relationship has a lot more depth (and wear) than the Love is Blind relationships, it can still be an abstract thing to answer.

In honor of our 10 year anniversary, I’m going to try.

Things I love about Isaac and/or our relationship:

-We constantly go out of our way to make each other laugh. In the happy moments, sad ones, terrifying ones– we can always get the other person to crack a smile without lessening the seriousness/weight of the situation.

-We have gentle, straightforward honesty with each other. When we speak our truth, it isn’t met with anger. Even if it’s disappointing for the other person to hear, it’s met with gratitude for the willingness to be so open and honest. It wasn’t always this way, but we have gotten to a place of solid, respectful, open communication in these 15 years together.

-I feel safe with him. My heart feels safe. My body is safe. My brain is safe. I know that any decisions he is making, he’s taking my best interests into consideration.

-I knew Isaac would be a really good dad. I didn’t know he would be as amazing as he is. It’s kind of bizarre, actually. I figured I’d be the one constantly teaching him how to navigate each developmental and life stage with a child. My work world has revolved around this, and I am the one doing all the reading and podcast listening on child psychology and rearing. But somehow, Isaac has this deep and intuitive knowing about how to raise our daughter in such a beautiful way.

He practices non-shaming, gentle, validating, accountability-based parenting without ever having read a single article on the topic. When he sees me getting flustered and overwhelmed, he immediately taps me out and handles the situation with an angsty 3 year old as I would have wanted to, but wasn’t able to in the moment. I don’t have to ask him to do X, Y, or Z for our child– typically he’s on top of it before me and reminds me about the things that matter when it comes to her. We tell each other often how much we admire each other’s parenting, and how much of a partnership it is.

-The way he makes meals for Baker (and me) with love and intention.

-When he has a few too many beers and gets a little buzzed, he gets super productive and often cleans, mops, and organizes the house.

-I love the space for individuality in our relationship. We have a strong sense of togetherness, and we spend a LOT of time together. But we also really value alone time, maintaining our own identities, and pursuing our own hobbies, friends, and interests. We have separate bedrooms; we discovered a long time ago that we both sleep better and operate better (he’s a night owl and I’m a morning person) with this set up. I love the safety to self-express and lack of codependency that is built in to our marriage.

-He decorates for Christmas every year. I keep saying I’ll help, but year after year, I just don’t. I’m sorry, Isaac. Maybe 2023 will be the year I help with Christmas-ifying the house!

-Not only does he decorate, he dresses up as Santa throughout the year (yes, you read that right, throughout the entire year) to surprise Baker with Santa visits. They play hide-n-seek, read books, and chat for a bit before he scurries back to the North Pole.

-We’ve had a practice for many years, and I’ve never told anyone about it except my sisters. It doesn’t really come up in conversation and is strange enough to not randomly mention it to folks– but I’m putting it out there now. In relationships, you know how sometimes the energy is just off? You can’t tell if the other person is exhausted from a long workday, in deep thought, or maybe irritated at you for some unknown reason? Or there’s that space after a disagreement where things have cooled off, but there’s still tension? We found a way to handle that many years ago, and still use it as needed.

He might say, “Are you mad at me?” and I may say, “No, I’m just tired.” Then he will respond with, “Then prove it”– and this automatically means I have to start singing a song to him. Any song I want, but I have to sing. It sounds dumb, right? It is dumb. But it has been brilliant in our relationship because if I’m actually mad at him for something and for whatever reason am withholding what I’m annoyed about, I find myself physically unable to sing a song to him and instead, my frustration comes flowing out. It provides a quick, painless, and immediate way for us to address what’s going on. If one of us is in a funky mood and want to reassure the other person it’s internal and not spouse-related, it’s a quick way to ‘prove it’ and signals the other person to give them space if needed.

-He is so good at gift giving. Some of my favorite, everyday essentials for the last 10 years are gifts he gave me because he knew I’d love them. Very rarely does he have a gift misfire. I need to take notes; he still gives me a hard time about the IOU gifts I have been known to give on special occasions 😦 His gifts are always full of intention and thoughtfulness.

-Isaac works really hard to understand the other person’s perspective in a disagreement. I learned how to do this better because of seeing him do it over the years. He may need some time away from the person/disagreement in order to process everything alone, but in that away-space, he is exceptional at empathy and perspective taking to reach a common ground in a disagreement.

-He has introduced me to a lot of great music.

-Isaac is incredibly emotionally available. He cries or gets teary-eyed a few times per week, and almost always for happy reasons. We can cry together over sweet TV moments, talking about our favorite memories, or reminiscing on the hard times. Having a partner who I view as incredibly strong and open with the entire spectrum of emotions continues to make me fall in love with him again and again, year after year.

-We thank each other a lot. I’m not sure how typical this is in marriages, but it’s something I love about our marriage. It’s not robotic, it’s always sincere and loving. We thank each other for doing dishes, cooking, doing extra childcare tasks, etc., etc. It feels really good to know that what I do as a wife and mom is acknowledged and appreciated. I don’t think a day goes by where we don’t thank each other for something, or express gratitude in some way.

-The boy can COOK. He started getting really into cooking in 2020 and now does almost all of our household cooking. His dinners are always so dang good.

-His head-thrown-back with eyes closed, deep belly laugh– I love that laugh. It’s not super easy to get it out of him, but it’s the best feeling when it happens.

-His ability to overlook my many flaws and frustrating qualities (read: adorable quirks), and focus on the things he loves about me. As a side note, he and my sister Christina have had a text thread running for several years where they send each other photos and stories about bad behavior of mine. I’m glad he at least has familial support in the matter.

-I love the way we can immediately slip into deep conversation and connection on dinner dates. Sometimes it feels like we don’t have a lot to talk about during the week, in the midst of kid schedules, work schedules, and life chaos. But once we get a few minutes of alone time, things slow down and calibrate almost immediately.

-There’s no voice raising or name calling in our relationship, no matter how rocky things get.

-Isaac is analytical in his approach to life and problems, but can also tap into a more heart-driven decision making space when needed. He’s proactive in his life, both personally and professionally.

-He sleeps in a sweatsuit and sometimes a hat because I need to have the AC on to sleep, even in the middle of winter.

-Isaac is a serial hobbyist and it’s helpful in reminding me to stay connected with my own hobbies. He doesn’t lose his identity in work or parenting– he has music, woodworking, and sneakers as hyper-fixations outside interests.

Happy Anniversary, Isaac. I love doing life with you. I’m sorry I started this anniversary post talking about Love is Blind.


3 thoughts on “10 Years

  1. Thank you, Courtney. You never fail to engage my interest, and I have been with my partner for almost 40 years. Continue the journey. Much love…..

  2. This was a wonderful and beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing. Not gonna lie, I’m jealous of what y’all have haha, as I think most people would be, it’s very hard to attain, and you clearly don’t take it for granted.

    I love his “sing a song when you are irritated” idea, that’s so unique and effective, haha. Happy anniversary Courtney & Issac, may God bless you with many more.

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