Today is Valentines Day and like many an old married couple before us, Mr. Monkey and I will celebrate by trying to get the kid to bed at a reasonable hour so we can fall into our own exhausted sleep well before the Daily Show even starts.
We have plenty of excuses this year: I’ve been sick with a virus that seems to have no end in sight, I’m super pregnant, the kiddo is dancing on the border of being sick so there is missed work and rescheduled meetings and a messy house and money to be saved for the coming baby. The reality is though that neither Mr. Monkey or I are very big Valentine’s people. I think we used to exchange cards but we don’t even do that anymore. I’ve never gotten flowers at work and Mr. Monkey knows me well enough to know that I would be, frankly, horrified if I did (No judgement if that is a tradition you love, I just don’t enjoy flowers enough to make me forget how freaking expensive they are to get delivered on Valentine’s Day).
Even though we are not Valentine’s celebraters, the sight of rows of freshly delivered flowers on the front desk of our welcome center here at work does make me think a bit about love and marriage and the whole messy enterprise of attaching your life to someone else.
Mr. Monkey and I will be married seven years this summer. This sixth year of marriage has, for me, been the toughest in a variety of ways. We’ve had a major job change and an unexpected pregnancy to deal with. We also had some internal issues that forced us to look long and hard at our marriage and to ask the scariest question, out loud and in seriousness, to each other: “Do you want to stay married to me?”.
FYI: there is no way a pregnant woman can be asked or ask that question without risking dehydration from the crying, crying, crying that comes with it. In the event that you ever get to plan or schedule your serious state of the union talks, aim for a time when both people’s hormone levels are at somewhat normal levels.
We do though. Want to stay married to each other, to make and remake this relationship into something more than just a vehicle for raising small children and providing each other with economic security and pleasant conversation and semi-regular sex.
Mr. Monkey isn’t a TV commercial version of romantic. He doesn’t buy flowers or jewelry or chocolate. He doesn’t really buy anything to express his love (save for honoring the pregnancy induced requests for various fast food places). He has been more conventionally romantic in the past and I have a drawer full of beautiful letters and poems that I will treasure forever. But, tangible things aside, I think of Mr. Monkey as a romantic because of what he thinks marriage and long term committment can look like and the work he is willing to do to get there. He believes in the idea of marriage as a place for both people to continue to work toward being their best versions of their selves. He believes, I am certain, that his job as a spouse is to say “yes” to whatever I say is my dream for my life. He helps me see marriage the place where we figure out how to live our lives on purpose and require more of ourselves than just being good friends who happen to have babies together.
And I love him for that.
So, happy Valentine’s Day, Mr. Monkey. I will always bring you pears if you want them.