I love my husband Gabe more than I thought it was possible to love anyone, but sometimes I forget. I get swept up in our day-to-day life, managing the comings and goings of our tribe and making sure they’re fed a vegetable every third day or so, and I forget.
I forget that I’m doing all this next to a guy who, when I see him walking toward me in a crowd, still makes me look twice. I forget that when we were dating, teenage-girl butterflies swarmed my stomach when I saw a missed text with his name on it. I forget that when he proposed, showing up suited and carrying orchids to what I thought was a last-minute movie date, I couldn’t speak.
In my defense, things around here get loud.
We have six children. Our intimate late night pillow talk focuses on who has to be where and when, and our early mornings together are spent trying to sneak in a shower before the crew is up and ready to roll. Our attention is focused on the people we’ve brought into this world, and we’re great partners in the care and keeping of our tribe.
It’s easy to forget that’s not the reason we’re together. What takes up most of our time is not the most important part of our story, it’s just the current state of our union.
Several weeks ago, Gabe called in the middle of the day to tell me he’d booked three nights at a historic resort we love. He’d booked the nights for the week leading up to a school break when the children are with their other parents.
I was annoyed. Three nights? When we don’t have the children and could be accomplishing all kinds of productive things at home? How dare he? I had big plans to clean out the attic that week. What on earth would we do, just the two of us alone for three full nights away? Who would watch the dog?
Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut. I was grateful for the effort (even though it was terribly misguided, and the time would be better spent on our to-do list). I resigned myself to going to avoid hurting Gabe’s feelings.
I was out of my mind.
The past three days have been exactly what I needed. Gabe and I have stayed in bed until nearly noon, sharing croissants and watching cooking shows and catching up on work. We’ve won and lost at the blackjack tables and off-roaded in a mud-splattered Jeep. We’ve eaten huge meals together, with warm bread slathered in butter.
We’ve managed no logistics and made no plans.
This week reintroduced me to my husband. The Gabe I love has clear blue eyes that crinkle when he navigates a particularly tough obstacle. He shouts and claps in excitement when his cards pay out at 6-to-1. The Gabe I love never walks out of a convenience store without my favorite soda and candy bar, regardless of whether I’ve placed an order for snacks.
Free of our usual hustle and bustle, I returned to Gabe. Snuggled into his chest, I listened to his heartbeat as I fell asleep. I held his hand in the hallways and rubbed his back at the tables. I noticed that we walk in sync, our arms looped easily around the other’s waist. I remembered that when my Jeep is teetering at the top of a muddy mountain, there’s no one I’d rather see behind the wheel.
Without the noise and distraction of our entourage, I remembered who we really are. I remembered I didn’t marry Gabe because I needed a logistics partner–in fact, the logistics of a six-child family were the reason I declined his first proposal.
I married Gabe because I love him. Gabe and I are at the center of our family’s story. Our soul-to-soul connection is our foundation, teaching us all about the power of second chances and choices and demonstrating the benefits of deep, unconditional love. Without us, our family ceases to exist.
This week, I remembered that time spent on Gabe and Kate is more valuable and productive than cleaning the attic ever could be. I remembered that investing in our relationship so it continues to serve us, providing a healthy and whole example to our children, is a high priority. Taking time to connect and dream together benefits our full family.
Reason #1687 why I love Gabe Wilson? He didn’t forget.
Reason #1688? He knew I had and loved me through it.
This post originally appeared on This Life in Progress. It has been reprinted with permission.