My husband and I recently celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. In some ways, ten years seems like a long time – like forever ago. (We’re official card-carrying members of the Old, Married Fart Club right about now.) But in others, it seems like just yesterday that he was courting me, his tall frame making me feel small and safe.
Not long ago we were walking together when we rounded a corner and turned onto a sidewalk that ran parallel to a busy street. A flurry of words were coming out of my mouth, and I wasn’t really paying much attention to my surroundings. I was walking on the outside, closer to the passing traffic. Without saying a word my husband gently placed his hand on the small of my back and eased me to his inside so he was the one nearest to the street.
I kept talking. He kept listening. But my heart hitched, and his act did not go unnoticed. This is something my husband has always done. He never lets me be the one closest to the street.
There have been plenty of times when I didn’t pay much attention to how he subtly shifted to the other side of me. Sometimes I did, but I would mentally roll my eyes, failing to see the simple gesture for what it was: A sign of his love, a sign that he wants to protect me and keep me safe, a sign that he would give his life for me if he had to, a sign that I am his beloved.
My husband has a strong protector instinct. Our basement is stocked with military MREs (meals-ready-to-eat). He has packed solar blankets into each of our cars. He saves and plans for a rainy or scary day. I used to tease him for being so prepared and cautious. I tend to be someone who frets over the small stuff but I’m rather nonchalant when it comes to big things – like apocalyptic disasters or getting run over by a passing car. But I don’t tease him any longer. I love that he wants to keep his family safe, keep me safe. I love the big and small acts he does that show how he’s watching out for me.
There’s a difference between chivalry and chauvinism. My husband wants to protect me not because he sees me as weak or incapable of taking care of myself but because he cherishes me.
Ten years ago we danced our first dance to Ben Harper’s “Beloved.”
It seemed like an awkwardly long song for my poor husband to dance to with his new bride because if there’s anything he doesn’t like, it’s being the center of attention. But the song’s lyrics were true then as we began this journey into marriage. As we danced, I felt like his beloved one.
I still do.
Your eyes shine through me.
You are so divine to me.
Your heart has a home in mine.
We won’t have to say a word.
With a touch all shall be heard.
That’s it. With one simple touch, his shielding body taking the place of my own on a casual walk to dinner, I know how much this man loves and honors me.
*And if and when he reads this, my wonderful, private man will turn slightly pink, and then he will start gagging and doing enough eye-rolling for the both of us, but he will humor me and laugh with me and love me, and I’ll feel beloved all over again.