[Editor's note: This story is a letter from a woman to her husband. While this is one example of one type of relationship, we understand, appreciate and celebrate that relationships come in all forms and configurations.]
I was almost shaking with excitement. Heart beating, deep breathing, butterflies ready to flutter and soar in the very deepest part of my soul.
And there, after watching every one of our friends and family walk the way before us, there you stood— steadfast and calm, with your smile bursting from the corners of your lips and that twinkle in your eye that you get right before you do something crazy.
That one moment will forever stand out in my mind.
That very moment defined our wedding day. It wasn't the kiss, or even the "I do"—it was you and me, our eyes locked together, and every promise, every trust and every hope in the very breath held within our lungs at that moment.
Fast forward to today and I sit here next to you, both in our pajamas, eating late-night snacks in bed while you watch British comedy shows on your phone and I write.
There aren't always butterflies, and time has certainly changed both of us. But I still believe in the man who stood at the end of the aisle, steadfast and calm with a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eye.
I've watched you grow into a father, watched you learn to find your way more as a man, to balance the weight of the responsibilities with your big dreamer heart. I've watched you celebrate the majesty of the wild, backwoods country and take on a love for ancient things, untouched by the complications of modern humanity.
You know me in a way that is beyond frustrating at times.
You push and challenge me to grow deeper when I would rather stay comfortable. Yet your patience is truly unending and you know how to reassure my heart with a gentle sway to the music in our kitchen while the baby sleeps and the dishes fill the sink and the ever growing pile of to-do's sit on the counter waiting for us to return.
The daily life of a married couple with a toddler is hard sometimes. The days are full + the nights lack sleep. Living out these daily vows can easily become nice ideals rather than steadfast pillars.
I know I need to be more patient, more encouraging and kinder some days. I know I need to remember that you are always my partner, even when I can't see you because our days fill up with various commitment that keep us moving but often apart.
I know that little gestures of love, thoughtfulness and appreciation go a long way. But if we are being truthful, some days I am just tired.
Some days the hustle of being a mother leaves me too empty to pour the lavish affection of a wife upon her husband. Some days all you get is a thrown-together midnight quesadilla or a midday text of "I love you" to remind us both of "I love you" when the journey is long.
Some days I am swarmed by the grasp of chubby toddler hands and when evening comes I unconsciously wiggle free of my lover's tender embrace, completely touched out. Needing space, needing to breathe.
Yet it was the beat of our hearts and the breath of our lungs between each word that wove each vow into the pledging symphony that brought our marriage and our family into being. A sacred promise to stay side by side in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, in good times and bad.
Out of all this world, you have been chosen for me. Out of all the hustle, the daily tasks, the long nights, full days, teething toddlers, burned meals, impatient words and life's concerns, I still choose you.
Love is a choice: a daily choice in every moment, in every breath, in every space of my heart. And I choose you.
Dear husband: You are chosen, you are wanted, you are needed in every breath of my womanhood, my mothering, my career and my dreams. I need you and you need me; ours is a partnership based on teamwork, mutual respect and an undying love for the wildness and majesty of life.
I promise to love you without reservation,
comfort you in times of distress,
encourage you to achieve higher goals,
laugh with you and cry with you,
grow with you in mind and spirit,
always be open and honest with you,
and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
A version of this article was originally published on The Village.