Tomorrow we will celebrate with the kids by splashing around in an inflatable pool and eating ice cream (sad dairy-free style for Archer) to commemorate the birth of our nation. It will be a fun day of playing with the kids, enjoying the almost oppressive sunshine, and eating the delicacies of our forefathers: hot dogs and beer. ‘Merkuh.

The next day is our anniversary! Nine years since I married Robby, and about twelve years since we started dating. We are extremely old. Life has thrown us so many curve-balls we haven’t had time to fall into a rut, but if that day comes, there’s no one I’d rather be in a rut with than Robby.

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We are very different people, but that works for us, and we’ve had the opportunity to expand our horizons and learn about each other’s hobbies, favorite shows, and movies. Sometimes we successfully introduce the other to a new shared passion, and sometimes we reaffirm our disdain for our spouse’s taste. I actually enjoyed most of the Star Trek series, but Robby did not care for Sex and the City (though he once corrected a statement I made regarding Samantha’s back story, so I’m pretty sure he just pretended to hate the show).

There are plenty of things we both love, and the most important are our two boys. Robby’s patience makes me want to be a better mother, and I need him on my team if we’re going to succeed at raising these kids to be happy and healthy adults. He always has time for the boys, from the second he walks in the door until the time he leaves for work the next morning, and they are so lucky to have him as their father.

I am the luckiest, because I get to have him as my partner in life, and watch him raise our boys to be thoughtful, kind, and sensitive, just like him. And sure, Jackson will probably be a NASCAR driver instead of a lawyer like Daddy, but there is no doubt he will benefit from Robby’s influence. Archer is serious and observant like his father, so perhaps we’ll focus on saving for his college education in case he wants to collect diplomas like Robby.

After nine years of marriage, we finally took the 5 Love Languages quiz two days ago. It turns out, we don’t all accept love in the same way. People prefer physical touch, words of affirmation, meaningful gifts, quality time, and acts of service in varying degrees, and the quiz is supposed to tell us what our partner finds most important. For example, you always say “I love you”, but her love language is receiving a well thought out token of your love, so she doesn’t feel the affection you’re giving in its entirety. You are always pawing at her when the lights go out, but more than anything she wants you to offer to do the dishes.

My results were not a surprise to me, with words of affirmation taking front and center, followed by physical touch. A mother once told me that she refused to be held by her husband because she was so sick of her kids climbing all over her during the day that she just needed some space. I crave physical affection from my kids and from my husband. Jackson was never a snuggler, so I have to wrestle him to the floor to get a kiss. Archer is more cuddly, and when he wraps his arms around my neck I kind of black out, it feels so nice. My favorite moments with my husband are the simplest: the kiss goodbye in the morning and the kiss hello when he returns. Sometimes he puts his arm around my waist and my eyes roll back in my head. It’s the little things.

The words, though. So important. I’m a little needy, so bear with me. I need constant reassurance that the dinner was tasty, that the laundry smells fresh, the decor I’ve chosen is pleasing, and my latest blog was amusing. I take a lack of comment as abject disapproval. Luckily, my husband has Midwestern manners, and thanks me for every meal, every chore, every errand I run on his behalf. Oh, and he thanks me for carrying his children, which is just, like, swoon. 

But, if work is stressful or the kids distract him and he doesn’t say my roast chicken was too beautiful for Norman Rockwell, I assume it was dry and tasteless and secretly sulk. I know this is ridiculous, and that I make a damn good roast chicken that any Stepford wife would be proud of, but I feel better when I hear “you’re a good cooker” from my son through a mouthful of dinner.

I enjoy quality time with my husband, and acts of service are always appreciated, but dead last was receiving gifts. I’m not great at getting presents, and I always pick my own ahead of time which ruins the magic. There’s a lot of anxiety that follows of gift, like where do I put it? If it’s jewelry, I probably can’t wear it every day, and then the giver will think I hate it, but I only have one neck, two wrists, two ears, and ten fingers, so eventually I’ll run out of space if I’m expected to don every bauble on every occasion. If it’s a thing, it probably doesn’t go exactly with my things, and I’ll stress about where it belongs. I can’t shove it in a closet, because what if you visit? How do I register the appropriate amount of surprise and joy without looking deranged as I open the box? It’s all just too much. Please tell me I look hot and rub my feet.

For most occasions, I tell Robby I don’t want a gift, and he ignores me. I thought that by our ninth anniversary, with the kids and the mess and the chaos, he would accept my suggestion that we forego gifts for once. He agreed, and then admitted he had gotten me “a few things”. This is the worst case scenario, because I have no idea what level of “things” we’re talking about. I mean, did he totally ignore me and go Christmas-level? Or did he take the suggestion for no gifts to mean something small? And now it’s so close and I have to scramble to catch up.

I liked to think we weren’t into gifts because I wasn’t, but receiving gifts was tied for first on Robby’s result tally. This is terrible news, because not only am I miserable at getting gifts, I’m hopeless when it comes to shopping for Robby. He has very specific tastes and prefers that I shop from his Amazon wish list like Santa Claus. I tell him that’s impersonal for a spouse on their anniversary, but am unable to come up with something acceptable myself. Something meaningful, thoughtful, and special, which he manages to accomplish on every occasion, is totally out of reach for me. I swear, if he didn’t remind me, I could probably forget our anniversary all together.

Now that I know how important tokens are to him, I should really make an effort to figure out what he would appreciate in the future. Of course, it’s too late for something thoughtful for our anniversary, so Amazon wish list it is. He is also making an effort to accommodate my love languages, and after reviewing my results he walked over, squeezed my butt, and said, “I affirm you”. Then he went to play video games, because quality time was third on my list and you just can’t have it all.

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