Today is my husband’s birthday. Forty-five years ago he emerged from the darkness of the womb into the light of this life, and thank god he did. While this is his transition day (and I know he has a variety of feelings about turning 45), I’m taking it as an opportunity to express my love for him (and sneak in a few points about the marriage transition : ))

People often ask me, “How do you know when you love someone? Once past the initial romance and infatuation stage, what does love really mean?” My mother says it best when she asks, “Do you love his/her essence?” In other words, beyond the quirks and foibles, beyond the ephemeral and temporal externals, do you like and love who this person is? Do you love his soul?

I feel deeply blessed to say that I am profoundly in love with my husband’s soul. There were times early in the relationship when I was so strangled with terror that I could barely breathe. But I would only have to look into his eyes as the portals to his soul and see the love and warmth they exuded to keep my feet from running. There, in those two sweet brown pools, I saw kindness, love, stability, honesty, richness, creativity, humor, silliness, intelligence, and wisdom. If I could manage to push aside the steel block of terror, I would reach out to hold his firm and warm hand, and I would relax just a bit.

But that was years ago. I don’t have to work hard anymore to cherish and actively love him on a daily basis. We connect easily and lovingly most of the time. And in today’s post, I’d like to share the beauty of his soul with you as I celebrate him on this day. Since he’s an artist, his essence is expressed through his creative expressions. Like our wedding rings that he designed and made himself (he secretly took a jewelry making class before he proposed to me to learn how to create a wax ring that he would then cast in gold; amazing man):

And the painting he secretly painted for my Christmas present this year:

We’re extremely aligned in core values, but obviously we don’t always agree (and certainly have had our share of knock-down, drag-out, full-blown, over-the-top fights). But in the end, we’re both accountable and committed to our own process of growth and self-discovery. And since we deeply care about the others’ well-being, we always arrive at a conclusion that meets both of our needs.

For example, this past Christmas Everest announced that, being a vegetarian, he was opposed to buying a Christmas tree. We all agreed that we didn’t want to cut down a tree so it wasn’t hard to support his proclamation. But as Christmas neared, my husband felt sad that there was no tree to adorn our living room. Being Jewish, it didn’t leave the same hole in me as it left for him, and I was happy to decorate the live spruce tree that we planted in the corner of our yard last spring. He suggested a plastic tree, which raised my hackles: A plastic tree? Are you kidding? You want to bring a huge plastic thing into our house when we work so hard to avoid synthetics at every turn? I sent him a bunch of articles on the demerits of a plastic tree, which only served to make him feel like I didn’t care about Christmas and honoring his traditions. I assured him that that wasn’t the case at all.

Then I had an idea and encouraged him to create our own tree out of fallen branches. “Something Goldworthian,” I suggested, referencing Andy Goldworthy, one of his favorite artists. It was late in the day, cold and almost dark, but he and Everest took to the idea immediately, bundled up, and went down to the creek to forage for fallen limbs. About twenty minutes later they returned dragging huge, 17-foot branches into our house and proceeded to create the most beautiful Christmas tree I could imagine (a bit difficult to capture in a photo):

Like I said, we don’t always agree, but I’m amazed at how often our disagreements result in something better than either of us could have landed on alone.

We’re a great match. We’re great partners. We’re great co-parents. And at the end of the day, he’s my very best friend, my safety, my rock, and my home. There are many times in a day and a week that I’m filled with the sweetest feeling of contentedness, a feeling that I longed for in my early and mid-twenties and feared would always elude me. Can I say responsibly that the feeling is because of him? Well, I can say that it’s because of the life we’ve created together. The alchemy and synergy of he and I combine to create beauty, healing, and love, as evidenced in our work in the world, our boys, and our home.

Happy Birthday, my love. This one’s for you : ) xo

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