To my dear, wonderful, and loving husband, Jared:
Today marks the fourth anniversary of the day you asked me to marry you. And this will be our first Valentine’s Day we won’t be celebrating it.
Our lives have become crazy and chaotic. Somehow the devil has taken us off course, and our focus has been on Tavin’s stomach afflictions, our financial downfall, and my mother’s cancer. At times there seems to be very little hope for our little family, but through it all one thing has remained true and faithful: your love for me.
While my heart has been closed off, and my affection has been concealed, the fact still remains that my love for you is stronger today than ever before. Your strength props me up, your faith in God inspires me, your dedication to your brothers humbles me, and your commitment to me and Tavin leaves me breathless and in awe.
I am far from perfect. Sometimes I feel utterly unlovable. I know that’s not true, but I often wonder how you can love me through all of my emotional ups and downs. Throughout my life, so many men left me because of that. Men always loved my outgoing, free-spirited, silly side, but when life gripped me and I needed tenderness, they refused to love the other side of who I am.
Together we are a perfect fit. When we first met, we both confessed that we didn’t want children. That was a relief. However, at one point you changed your mind, and it broke my heart because I knew I didn’t want anymore children after already raising Josh. I never saw myself raising another child. I never saw myself as a very good mother to start, so to do it again was something I had little desire to do. But there was something about your love for me that changed the way I saw myself. For the first time in my life I no longer believed the lies about myself. Instead, I saw what you saw in me, and I never felt more alive. Today we are raising a beautiful, intelligent, affectionate young man. You changed my life for the better.
When I had Josh, twenty-six years ago, my heart ached to find a man who would love him as his own. I wanted a man who would truly cherish me, flaws and all. I ached to find true, honest, real love that lasted not just for a moment, but for a lifetime. I needed a man who understood me, who cared, who wasn’t afraid to be weak at times. I needed a real man, not the world’s macho idea of what men were supposed to be like. I wanted someone to share life with me, and be my equal. I wanted to be taken care of for once in my life, instead of always having to take care of everyone else.
Through countless years of searching, all I found was heartache and misery. Abuse and instability. Until one day, when I had had enough, I cried out to God and told Him, “I can’t be trusted. My judgment concerning men is always off. I continue to keep repeating the same cycle over and over again, yet each time it hurts even worse. I want what You want for me, whatever that may be, even if it means being alone for the rest of my life. I trust that whatever You have for me is better than anything I could ever find on my own.”
God gave me my heart’s desire when He placed you in my life. In fact, at one point, God revealed to me that His love for me is in close comparison to how you love me. For the first time in my life, I truly understood unconditional love.
You think I’m sexy in my pjs, with my hair oily and matted. Not a day goes by that you don’t tell me how beautiful I am. When I snap, you never snap back (although you have good cause to do so). When I feel unaffectionate, you never push or complain, nor do you use it as an excuse to look somewhere else. You accept me as I am and never try to change me. You are not disappointed in my humanness, nor do you complain that we sit at home night after night. You love to sit together in silence, and you love to share your dreams with me. You support everything I do, and make a point to make sure I have everything I need to succeed. You cook. You clean. You do laundry. You change poopy diapers. You get up early with Tavin and let me sleep in. You give me my private time. You encourage me to do things I love to do. Simply put: You take care of me the way a real man should take care of a woman.
I am thankful for you every day, even if I don’t say it. But more than that, I love the idea that our son is watching every move you make and will someday make a woman as happy as you make me.
All my love and affection,
Your wife, Tristine