How do I put this last year of our marriage into words?

People said that the first year of marriage is the best, nothing beats the honeymoon phase, but I disagree. Maybe it’s true for them, but we’ve always done things a little differently, haven’t we? For me, this second year was not only better than the first, but in general, it was the best year of my life.

First, there was AmeriCorps. You were so gracious all year, while I was bringing nothing into this household but smiles and gushing stories, to not ask for me to contribute more financially. I talked to other married women in the program and their husbands were not as understanding. So every month that we scrimped, and did without, and panicked about the rent, I just knew you were resenting my inability- or unwillingness– to make our life easier. But if you ever had those thoughts, you never revealed them, even when I poked and needled and practically tried to drag the truth I was expecting out of you. I was happy, and fulfilled, and to you that was enough. And there are no words in the English language that would sufficiently convey the gratitude I have for that.

Then came this summer. The fact that I still consider this year to be the best of my life, even after accounting for those three months, is a testament to how exceptionally wonderful the rest of the year was. I’ve never experienced exhaustion or frustration quite like what I experienced working as a camp counselor, or as an FCAT tutor in the summer “reading camps”. It wasn’t all bad, but when I think back on that period of my life, the emotion that rises to the surface is oh God don’t make me go back, please, please don’t make me go back. So there’s that. But through it all, you were there for me, reassuring me that I didn’t have to do what I was doing, but that you respected my stubborn insistence on sticking it out. Despite the fact that your job is consistently harder and more exhausting than even my worst days at camp, you never rubbed that in my face as I cried about how miserable I was. You just held me, and told me you loved me. What more could you do?

And now graduate school. You’ve been with me through so much, academically-speaking. The IB programme, college, my honors thesis, the god-awful application process for graduate school, and now the program itself. And you’ve always been my most stubborn cheerleader, even when my anxiety got on my own nerves. You’ve believed in me, my intelligence and my capabilities, far more than I’ve believed in myself, and I have to admit that there were times when your own faith kept me going even when I had none for myself. And when I was diagnosed with depression, you took it in stride, making jokes about it to keep me from wallowing in self-pity and yet taking it seriously enough that I knew you would stand by me no matter what.

And that’s just the emotional support. I see how hard you’re working to support us financially, to keep us debt-free even while I’m getting a very expensive graduate education, and I am constantly amazed at how lucky I was to find a man like you. Rather than insisting that I stay home and be a good little housewife, you value my education and career so much that you are willing to put your own dreams on hold to help me achieve my goals. I just can’t wait to return the favor.

I can’t say what this last year, or our marriage in general has meant to you. But I know what it has meant to me. I love you, so much. For the big things, for the very small things, for the things I have already mentioned here, and for the things that will always stay between you and me: thank you. I hope we have a lifetime more of these things to come.