11 Years

A few years ago on this day, I wrote what ended up being one of my most viewed and controversial pieces where I reflected on my wedding anniversary by analyzing how Emily rarely says, 'I love you.' I ended up getting passionate comments from complete strangers who were bothered that those three words together were not a common part of my wife's vocabulary. It also ended up being a piece that resonated with many readers who appreciated the honesty of the article rather than just being a fluff piece trying to make my relationship look like rainbows and Skittles.

I don't know what my actual goal was when I started writing about my wife's lack of saying 'I love you.' Some of it may have been talking through it and trying to reconcile that aspect of my relationship. Another part was definitely to make it clear that what works for one marriage or relationship is different for another. I have read many pieces about why it is important to say 'I love you' every day, but I also know couples who have been married longer than I that rarely say those words but are happy together. What I've learned from 11 years of marriage is that you can take advice, you can have models for healthy relationships, you can see things that work but, in the end, you need to know what works for you and your partner.

Love is more than words. Love is aspiring to be a better person. Love is accepting faults in yourself and others knowing they don't define a person. Love is really listening. Love is adapting, reshaping and transforming. Love is pushing yourself and others to be better. Love is doing things in the background. Love is doing things loud and clear. Love is doing what you know your partner needs. Love is making a marriage work.

After 11 years, I've sometimes done great things for my marriage. Many times, I've done very stupid things. What I've learned is that the best thing that I can do is really listen to Emily, strive to be a better person and really invest myself into our relationship. This means to not be complacent and every day try to demonstrate my love through my actions and the time I spend. When I say listen, I mean to really hear what Emily wants and needs in that current moment. I must aim to always be present for her and our family.

Confession time. I haven't been the greatest husband in the last many months. The depression I've talked about on here has made me very distant. I end up crashing most night right after putting the kids to bed, which means we never spend nights together. I've been so emotional and mentally flustered that I haven't been planning for things to do. I know I've been checked out. I also know that I want to do much better. I want to be the husband that I know my wife deserves.

11 years ago, on this day, I knew my wedding was a big event. I knew it would change my life. I had no idea what was really in store for me. I now have two amazing children that I adore and try every day to be a great father for them. Together we got a lovable dog in Summit who was my dear companion for 8 years, and now have two more energetic dogs. I've learned to cook and no longer get too anxious near an oven. Because of Emily, I've visited the Maritimes, Quebec City, Chicago, New York and Alberta. Most of my greatest memories and moments are thanks to Emily. I couldn't even imagine my life now without her and my kids.

I haven't been very great at sticking to my goals lately. But the most important thing in the world is Emily and my two kids, Everett and Danika. The 11th anniversary is the best time to recommit to being the best and most loving husband and father that I can possibly be. The best way to show my love is not the words, but the work I am going to throw into this relationship. I aim to make every day matter with the ones that I love most.

I love you, Emily. Happy 11th Wedding Anniversary!