If you were to ask me who my ideal married couple is, that would be my Wowo and Maymee. This is a picture of my grandparents in their younger days. They made having a happy, loving marriage look so easy!
My late grandfather was a soldier. He stood tall and proud, walked briskly even when he was past his eighties. He had a booming voice, one that you’d be really scared off especially when he was upset. Despite his stern appearance, this colonel was also a loving, and dare I say it, mushy husband.
He adored my grandmother. When she was hospitalized once, he painted her toenails while she was lying in bed. During a costume party, they came as a Japanese couple – he a brave Samurai warrior, she a demure geisha. When they were asked to present themselves, he wielded his sword, pretending to impress her with his samurai moves. My grandmother giggled like a school girl.
My grandmother was straightforwardly sweet and mushy towards him. She’d giggle at all his jokes, hold his hand and gaze at him adoringly. She’d prepare his favorite dishes. She’d regale her children and grandchildren with stories of how he swept her off her feet again and again.
They showed their adoration for each other in public. They’d share a kiss when glasses would tinkle during weddings, even if the wedding was not their own. They would look at each other always, always, always, with so much love.
What does this have to do with my own wifely steps? A lot. My grandparents loved each other so much. You can only love each other that intensely when you take care of one another genuinely. That’s what they did. It was clear to me as a kid. It resonates with me now as a married woman. Take care of each other as much as you can, everyday and always.
I’m remiss at that sometimes. When it was just my husband and me, I would cook for him, prepare his dinner, prepare his clothes, etc. It was not an obligation but a desire to genuinely take care of him. When the baby came, husband stuff became priority #2. It was all about the baby. Then it became it was only about the baby. I’d be very tired by the time he got home from work that I couldn’t and wouldn’t even talk to him. When we’d talk it was all about baby things and family chores.
We loved spending time with the baby, but we also missed spending time with just each other. There was no more Husband and Wife, just Mommy and Daddy. Needless to say, it put a strain on our marriage. Were we drifting apart? Were we losing interest in each other? Were we boring each other?
It got better after one year. To be brutally frank, we’re still getting there. No, we weren’t drifting apart. Nor did we lose interest in each other. No, we weren’t boring each other. We realized we were growing, evolving as a married couple. I was, and am, growing as a wife.
Today, I still take care of the baby the whole day. But when my husband comes home I’ve re-learned to take care of him too. I prepare his food, prepare his clothes, put toothpaste on his toothbrush… those insane little things that kept us giddy about each other before. The change in pace was not because I’m not as tired anymore. Heck, I’m even more tired now with the toddler running around a lot. What changed was perspective. What changed was the desire to make things work better, to put as much love into the little things that make him, us, happy.
I saw that in my grandparents. There were big and small expressions of love. Big like the kiss they shared in front of hundreds of people during my cousin’s wedding. Small like the medicines my grandfather would lay out for my grandmother or the merienda she’d prepare for him everyday. Wowo and Maymee are my inspiration for my own wifely steps.
My husband and I still hold hands, and perhaps will drive our kid nuts with our affection when he’s a bit older. Whether it’s big things like going on dates together (even if it’s just at the grocery deli) or small things like preparing his medicine at night or laying out his pajamas, I’m learning that you should as much as possible put love into the things you do for another. Then no task becomes daunting, no chore too trivial.
No wonder my grandparents made having a happy marriage look so easy! Everyday I’m learning that with sincerity and genuine eagerness to take care of each other, every step taken, both yours and his, builds a stronger, more loving marriage. Everyday I’m learning it’s not as hard as it seems.