[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.]
There are things about my first marriage you already know like how I had a miscarriage early on and how the weight of that loss was the final blow to an already shaky house of cards.
But there are some things I never told you, like how living with an emotionally detached person makes you feel alone most of the time as if you're simply coexisting with someone who harbors a million dark secrets.
Or that despite the troubles we had, I still loved his family. The day our divorce was final felt extremely devastating, as if these kind and wonderful people were all killed in the same car crash. The sadness of missing them made it hard to breathe.
You know the story of how I moved back in with my parents for a year after that, leaving my stuff in accessible milk crates on the floor as a constant reminder that this too shall pass. I was literally living out of a suitcase, sleeping on a cramped daybed, and binge-watching Platinum Weddings (oh, how I tortured myself!).
But did you know that even though my life was a mess, I had a good feeling I'd meet someone like you?
I had enough sense to know my situation was temporary, and instead of focusing on the sadness, I chose to focus on a goal. I worked hard and saved my money to buy a condo in the apartment complex where—as fate would have it—you also lived.
No more boxes and empty closets. Hello, new life.
When we met, you were holding a Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee and wearing shorts in the dead of winter. You were friendly and seemed nice. Bonus: you were exactly my type—tall and blond with clear blue eyes and a quiet inner strength. We became fast friends, and I soon realized that you were smart enough to fix anything or solve any problem (if you thought about it long enough).
You were the exact opposite of him—and that's what attracted me most to you.
We spent every day together and fell in love faster than either of us expected. I moved in with you a few months later—lugging my belongings down a short walkway to your place so I could rent out my furnished condo. Once I settled in, we rescued a dog named Harvey who unbeknownst to us, had a heart full of worms and would only be in our care for a total of 48 hours.
Desperate to save Harvey, you drove our dog three hours away to an animal hospital at UPenn for an emergency surgery that didn't work. You cried into the phone when you told me the news, distraught over the death of a creature we hardly knew.
At that moment I thought, imagine the kind of father he'd be.
Fast-forward to eight years of marriage and two kids (oh, and two hamsters, two bettas and an aquarium full of fish) later, and here we are. Sure, we have our arguments and bicker when schedules are packed and the budget is tight. And we've had our share of heartbreak from a miscarriage to a job loss to moving three times before FINALLY buying a house in a town we both love.
But through it all, we have a warm home full of contagious kid laughter, and we've built a foundation that's unwavering. We put our children first most—if not all—of the time. And during this season of life, we're both totally okay with that choice.
I don't think of you as husband #2 because there's nothing secondary or trivial or insignificant about you. You're my one and only. My rock.
You're the man I go to when I need advice or a quick reality check. You're the guy who makes it home for family dinner every single night, the dad who coaches soccer and does fun science experiments with dry ice on the back porch. You're consistent and present and completely capable.
My first marriage was a chance for me to learn that you can't force anyone to do anything they don't want to do. No matter how hard I tried to convince my ex-husband that having a baby was a good idea, it was never going to happen for us.
I am now the mother of two amazing humans who wouldn't be in this world if I didn't do something as incredibly hard as leave a failing marriage. I found the courage to walk away—with no promise that I'd ever fall in love again or have the family I so desperately wanted.
It was a pure leap of faith.
And there you were to catch me, this girl who wasn't quite herself at the time and most definitely should not have been dating but also wanted to spend every minute with you. Our first dates turned into deep conversations that turned into lifelong commitments—all leading to the culmination of the beautiful life we have today.
So, thank you. Thank you for always supporting me. Thank you for creating this family with me. Thank you for being my compass when I start to worry about everything. Thank you for keeping me balanced when life comes unhinged.
You noticed me when another man looked right through me. You wanted to be close to me when another man couldn't get far enough away. You made me whole again when another man left me broken.
And for all of this, I am forever grateful.