I like that he knows which fork I like to eat dessert with.
I like that he knows how I like the blankets to be arranged when I nap.
I like that he urges me to shower earlier so I have time to let my hair air dry. Because he knows that’s a thing, and that sleeping with wet hair is annoying.
I don’t just like it. I love it. And I feel loved by it.
When we were dating in college, it was a delight to study my new boyfriend Ben and learn his likes and dislikes. When I found out he liked brownies with ice cream, I took the bus to Safeway and got ingredients and made it the first chance I could.
When I learned that he didn’t like corn, I decided I didn’t care much for it, either.
It was easy. It was fun. He brought me chocolate and I cooked him meat. It was bliss.
Our first year of marriage was a similar school of learning and joy, finding ways to delight one another and show love with our study of one another’s habits and preferences. Somehow, though, over the last decade, the novelty of studying my husband has become less thrilling. I figure we’ve been together for over ten years… I probably know him better than he knows himself, right?
Some things I just don’t try so hard to learn anymore- I bring home the wrong sauce with his chicken nuggets, and still don’t know what his go-to pho order is. Then there are just things I don’t try very hard to remember or do to please him- I forget that he won’t like tonight’s eggplant, and I make us late to church even though I know how important punctuality is to him. My desire to please and find ways to delight him has gotten lost in the muddle of motherhood, where I only really focus on doing what’s best for my kids, and then when there’s some breathing room, myself. Ben’s needs get tossed onto the back burner.
I never thought I’d be that wife, but here we are.
Yet I found myself smiling when he set out the nice forks for dessert. It’s not the first time he’s done it–he’s done it for years. But for some reason, my heart soared a little: He knows which forks I like to eat dessert with!
My heart pittered a little.
“You can get as many pastries as you want,” he said, encouragingly.
I stared longingly at the kouign amman, croissants, cookies, and tarts.
“But… I have to cut back on my sugar intake!” I said, shocked at his suggestion. At the time, I thought sugar was a cause of my eczema and was trying to cut back (HAPPY NEWS: IT IS NOT). He also knew how sad it made me to arrive at one of my favorite bakeries and not get the pastries I loved.
He shrugged, “You can just wrap them up and freeze them for later, right?”
TRUE!! How could I have forgotten? I was thankful that he not only appreciated the delight croissants brought me, but also remembered that I had a tried and true way to save them to enjoy in the future.
My heart pattered.
The extravagant shows of love are nice, but it’s these small, everyday gestures that show me how much he really loves me- not just on Valentine’s Day and birthdays, but on rainy days, long days, and normal days. It means more because I know that the knowledge doesn’t just come to him. He studies me and is intentional about learning what I like, and how I like things to be done. It’s not natural for him to think the shiny spoons in the right drawer are perfect for ice cream, but he’s observed me pick them out each time and knows that they are my preferred vehicle for ice cream-to-mouth delivery.
Before we had gotten married, a pastor had told us to “study your spouse” and learn what their preferences, dislikes, and passions were. He was convinced that this was a key to a happy marriage, and it really was. To be honest, it’s been a very day-to-day kind of marriage lately, but I am warmed just sitting here and reflecting on the everyday ways we used to try harder for each other, and I am inspired to put a little bit more into it. Time has already shown me that people change, and now is as good a time as any to renew my efforts to study my spouse.