I dated quite a lot in my not-quite-a-decade-long dating career.
This means that I always have a plethora of highly entertaining material if the conversation lulls and the group at large just needs a fabulously awful train wreck of a story concerning blind dates, school dances, and/or the worst ways to break up of all time.
But it also means that sometimes when I sit back and drink in a moment where the three of us---Matt, Raven, and I---are all sitting around, enjoying each other's company, I think of how it would have been had I chosen differently, and I am always giddy with relief that I made the exact decision that I did upon further reflection. For while all of the guys I dated had their admirable qualities (or else why would I have dated them at all?), Matt is by far the one that I am the most at ease with, the person with whom I become my best self while at the same time being allowed to be the person I am naturally (if that makes sense).
Although I usually didn't realize it consciously at the time, many of my ex-boyfriends elicited subtle changes in my behavior or personality so that I could more easily get along with them. If you've ever taken the color personality test, this next statement will make a lot more sense to you, but I am a through-and-through white personality color, which means I value harmony and peace above almost all else. This means that if I need to change aspects of myself to better fit a situation, I tend to do it to maintain the greatest sense of wellbeing in the group.
In my dating life, this was a regular practice that ensured that I could get along well with a wide variety of personality types and relationship styles, but it also meant that I felt like I could never fully let my guard now.
Except with Matt.
Because we started out as just being friends for so long, I let all my colors fly for him, exactly as they were, no shifting or polishing or changing needed.
Now that we've been married almost six years (and friends for much longer than that), I've had quite a long time to think about all the wonderful qualities that make my husband the man that he is. And while he has many traits that I could expound on that make him perfect for me, I think my favorite one is this:
His absolute sensitivity to the needs of others, and especially his ability to prioritize others before himself.
With Matt, I never need to worry about him being tactless and hurting my feelings or selfishly pursuing something that won't be in the best interest of our family or not genuinely listening to my side of the equation.
I don't believe that in all the time we've known each other that he has ever truly hurt my feelings. Sure, we've had some heated disagreements, but even in the passion of the moment, he never goes for the low blow or the thoughtless insult or the accusing finger---first and foremost, his concern is that the people he loves and appreciates feel loved and appreciated, and that overrides any other impulse that might come up. And when he feels the need to give correction (like when I don't rinse out my dishes for the millionth time in our marriage), he does so in a playful, affectionate way so that I am encouraged to just change and be better rather than get defensive.
There will probably always be those random thoughts that arise about how my life would have been different if I'd chosen a different path.
But I can say with absolute certainty that I know I've chosen the path that has brought me (and will continue to bring me) by far the best life and the best fit out of any of the other options I had.
I am forever grateful that Matt stuck with me even when I wrote him off, dated other people at the same time as him (they knew about each other---don't worry), and just was overall really, really slow in getting my act together.
Matt, you are the best husband (and father) I could ever want, and you are my everything.
Thank you for being exactly who you are.