A whole lot.
First of all, I have learned to appreciate airplanes, trains, Canada’s wild beauty, and Gordon Lightfoot. Considering Rod’s choice in music was almost a nonstarter for us making it to a second date, it’s an awfully good thing I have learned not only to live with but to love Gord’s poetic lyrics. And, I’m well aware of Rod’s sacrifices to attending my choices of rock concerts with his ear plugs in place. I do get a secret joy every time he whistles the refrain to my music choices though.
I have learned the true meaning of Respect.
I have never enjoyed this depth of respect from any other person—ever. While I am quite versed in establishing healthy boundaries in all parts of life, Rod and our marriage has not been where I needed them. He is masterful at knowing how much to hold me tight to feel safe, secure and loved, yet loosely enough that I can spread my wings and grow.
I also greatly admire Rod’s masculinity, his strength of character, his firmness of conviction and wholesome values, Rod’s depth of empathy, and his unforced generosity, his quietness that balances my chatter.
Looking back over the last ten years, being a stay-at-home mom was bitter sweet and to deny it would be a lie. I chose to have more kids for Rod who had none of his own. Having been a single working mom, I knew I didn’t want to have more children just to put them in daycare this time. So I stayed home. Despite all of my baggage and issues around loss of income and loss of my career-woman identity that I had to work through—and eventually did—I completely appreciate the sacrifice Rod made by working his ass off in the military at a job that took more away from him than any man should have to give. All of the abundance our family currently enjoys, all of the financial security Rod has arranged for our old-age, are Rod’s doing. He has been the consummate provider and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
It may not always be apparent to those who don’t know us that my two oldest girls are Rod’s step-daughters, because they are his daughters in his heart. Over the last 10 years they became the closest thing to biological as humanly possible. He has wanted the best for Sarah and to shelter her from pain as much as I do, and Vicky’s future weighs as heavily on him as it does on me. I can’t tell you how much it means to a mom for her husband to love her children.
What can I say that will help someone starting out in their marriage? Essentially, the old adage about communication is true. The only time we fight is when I don’t tell Rod the full story and he fills in the blanks with an active imagination and the wrong stuff. Or, when I am insecure and expect Rod to read my mind and reassure me.
I have learned the only way to stay connected is to be completely open, vulnerable, honest, and to be willing to accept the warts and farts, because he is as human as I am, he is as fallible as I am, and as utterly gifted with potential as I am.
I am so happy to be going through this journey with Rod by my side, and I look forward to celebrating many more decades together.