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August 22, 2013


There is a phrase often heard in our house that goes a little something like this, “You could buy me flowers sometimes if you want.”

Another is “Don’t you know my love language is gifts? Even little gifts mean a lot, just to let you know…”

“Just to let you know…” has left my lips more times than I’d like to admit. And honestly, the gifts received have been fewer than I’d like to admit as well. I attribute this not to the neglect or thoughtlessness of my husband, though, but more to the natural growth of our marriage. For fear of the judgment of any and all readers, I should explain…

As we approach the three year anniversary of the day we became husband and wife, I realize that with each passing year, we become more and more aware of what being a “husband” and “wife” really mean. As thoughtful and generous as my husband is, I rarely get flowers and gifts. Sounds brutal, but it’s true. Yet if I’m being honest, I can’t  sincerely speak of any of the last 365 days that have passed without mentioning that fact that I go to bed every night knowing that the dinner dishes are washed… without having been the one who washed them. (And if you have known me since childhood, you know that my most detested chore was washing dishes!)

 Worth mentioning as well is that I have a very clean toilet, yet I have rarely, if ever, donned rubber gloves or gotten on my hands and knees to scrub it. But it’s almost always clean. (I'll spare you the photo of my toilet).

He likes organizing things, spaces, unfinished projects of mine. (And I’m the Queen of Starting New Projects!).

Those would be unfinished projects of mine, in case it's unclear...
He’s ok with eating pizza or sandwiches for dinner when I’m just too emotionally exhausted from work to think about preparing something.

I have strange reactions to mosquito bites here, horrible, long-lasting itchy red marks which forced me to keep all windows closed during our first year here, for fear of being eaten alive in the night. Until my husband put screens in all the windows, that is. And instead of incurring expense on top of expense to purchase ready-made screens to fit our windows, my husband bought the materials to create them himself , which allows us to enjoy cool summer nights without having to share our living room with flying insects.

Did I mention that he always saves me the last bite of his favorite ice cream? Or that a simple thing like dinner outside on the balcony makes him crazy happy?

Aside from his infinite amounts of patience that he bestows on me weekly (daily?), one of my favorite things about him is that he never, ever, complains. And in a place where it is socially acceptable to verbally share the troubles of your day/week/life, it is rare to find someone who chooses not to voice even one complaint.

So the presents? Yeah… there just aren’t many. And yes, I still do stand by the fact that my love language is gifts and that I adore both the giving and the receiving. (Poor husband of mine, marrying into a situation such as this!)

At this point, after being married only three years, I can’t claim to be an expert on marriage. Or relationships in general. Or men, for that matter. Definitely not men. But I can say one thing for certain: I married a man that serves me, and serves me well. And that, in the long run, will probably be more valuable than big gifts, small gifts, or possibly all the gifts combined. Do I long for them still sometimes? Of course. It’s wired within me. What I am learning, though, is that contentment (both in marriage and as a whole) stems more from intangible things rather than tangible. It is rare that during a dinner party at our house, I pull out a present Luis gave me to show off, because truthfully, the sentimentality isn’t what marks him, or what makes others love him. What draws people to Luis is his ability to serve everyone, no matter his relationship to them. And seeing that on a regular basis is (if you don’t mind a pun tossed in here at the end) a gift that keeps on giving.

So three years in, I can still say that we’re in the “honeymoon stage”… just a honeymoon stage with a teensy bit more arguing and a whole lot more forgiveness. (As I mentioned last year, I think forgiveness is one of the greatest things that one can learn from marriage!) With each day that passes, I recognize more and more how each of our strengths balances the other’s weaknesses, and how we complement each other. And Mrs. Rigid Type-A Planner-To-The-Core has learned from Mr. Go-With-The-Flow how to relax a bit and (gasp!) how to sleep in on the weekends. And he, in turn, makes more lists and could possibly be seen planning two days ahead instead of just one. (Possibly). And though sometimes an ocean seems like a million miles away from our dear American friends and family, we are well loved, both by many Portuguese friends and family here, and through the digital (and postal!) wires that connect us from afar. And we are healthy. And employed. And these things give us perspective and strengthen us as a couple, both to serve each other and to serve others. And after 1,095 days of being married, I’d say those are some pretty great gifts.

[What's a blog without photos? Obligatory shots below].

Color Run Coimbra
Águeda, Portugal
For entire album, view here.
Coimbra | photo by Tabitha Reuman
For entire album, view here.

Coimbra | photo by Tabitha Reuman
For entire album, view here.

Coimbra | photo by Tabitha Reuman
For entire album, view here.

Coimbra | photo by Tabitha Reuman
For entire album, view here.
Luis's 40th birthday (And doesn't look a day over 30!)
Photo by Leonor Parreiral