Duana Welch is in love with her man, and she wants the world to know about it.
I married a manly man. A guy with a rough face and gentle, huge hands. A guy with a pinkie larger than my thumb. With a broad, deep chest and strong arms. And—kids, stop reading here—a hot ass.
A man who didn’t laugh when I said I needed to smell him before I would know if he was for me. He just leaned in and let me have a sniff. And seemed relieved when I said he’d do.
A man who gets it that all you really need to be a great lover is willingness, the desire to bring your beloved joy. That the two things you need everywhere are kindness and respect. A man who holds hands and gives backrubs that are ends unto themselves.
A man who has all that.
I married a creative man, a hard-working man who builds things…things with his mind, things with his hands. A man who grows a garden and tends the yard and pays the bills. A man who for years went each day to a job he did not love, because he does love us.
I married a man who makes his own doctor appointments. And keeps them.
I married a courageous man. That which fails to kill us often makes us bitter, not better; the scars accumulate and our openness to life dissipates. But I married a man who had been through terrible heartbreak, yet had the courage to throw himself back into love. To say: I’m not going to let the past stop me from pursuing what I want with my whole heart.
A man who saw my own brokenness and scars. And kissed them. And wanted me anyway.
I married a man who met me with my half-pint daughter and saw possibilities instead of problems. Who said: I always wanted to raise a little girl.
A man who protects us in every way he can. Who watched over our daughter when she was hospitalized just weeks after our wedding. And who watched over me after my open-heart surgery; who cried when the surgeon said I was healed. Who drove gently over rough spots in the road to save me any pain as I recovered. Who wouldn’t let me touch laundry for a long time after that, in case it was too heavy.
A generous man. A man who surprises me with chocolate and always asks if I’ve lost weight.
I married a gentle man, a man who cries at movies. Who is not afraid to be moved, and who finds many things moving. A man who shares my ethic for compassion and care in and for the world, and who wants more than anything to embody that ethic and set a good example.
I married a man who appreciates and loves me as a woman. A man who tells me every day with his eyes and his hands that he thinks I’m the hottest thing on feet. A man who accepts and even enjoys my cooking, and who has become an excellent cook himself. Who praises my housekeeping, and has taken on more and more of it, unasked. A man who thinks I’m a great mother—and who values that because–and this is important–he can put children’s needs ahead of his own.
I married a man who understands that children need all their parents. A man who welcomed my ex into our home twice a week, and who did so graciously. A man who has said of my ex: He’s family, of course he’s coming for the holidays.
I married a man with passion and purpose. A man who volunteered an entire day each week for over a decade at a zoo. A man beloved by animals others fear—and the only man beloved by the lion, who rolled over on his back when he saw my husband approach. A man who raised bears and leopards in his spare time and still plays with our housecat, too, because he gets it that pussies are wonderful whatever their size and that real men love cats. And dogs. And critters.
A man who has been known to bring a hedgehog home because he thought I would enjoy that.
A man who can be there in the pain of an animal’s death, to give comfort. Who says, The end of life is hard. And stays for hours and hours to make sure that hard ending is at least not endured alone. Who was there when my beloved greyhound had to be put down; who held, yes, even a pet rat as it suffered its last at the end of a long life.
I married a human coatimundi—a raccoon that takes immense pleasure from jokes and tricks. A man who brings fun to life. Who won’t let you finish your sentence if there is some way to turn it into a laughing matter. And there are more laughing matters than I could have guessed at.
I married a man who knows the value of those two little words: Yes Dear. Who morphs my own flaws into endearing qualities. Who searches around for his stuff, which I have invariably moved someplace yet again, and shrugs it off. Who loves me as-is, and tells me I’m hot even if I’ve worn the same jeans two days running. Who listens to my many opinions and lets me prattle on about research even if that’s not his thing.
I did not marry a reader. But I did marry a man who appreciates my mind and my passion for books and knowledge and learning. Who lovingly calls me his little nerd. And—surprise!—a man who started reading on his own, too.
I married a confident man. A man who supports my passions and prods me to pursue my dreams. Who encouraged me to leave a lucrative job to return to what seemed at the time to be the relative poverty of my purpose: teaching in writing and in the classroom. Who says, Look at all the lives you’re changing, I’m so proud of you. Who freed me to be who I am.
I am grateful for who he is, and who he helps us all to be.
Thank you, Vic Hariton, for asking me to be your bride. For marrying me. For being a good man. For being heroic. For being mine.
Happy 7th anniversary.
Duana Welch is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do (2015). You can get a free chapter and more at http://www.lovefactually.co
Photo courtesy of Duana Welch.