The Carpenter and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.

I like to think we celebrate ours every day (delusion is my thing). We don’t. Sometimes we are more roommates than affectionate partners. The days string along without so much as a conversation, at least beyond anything more than bills, kids and work drama. We are not unique.

When we get overwhelmed the Carpenter and I forget that both of us are balancing a lot, and truth be told,  we don’t know how to help the other one. Selfishly, when I feel pulled in a thousand different directions, I start to feel like the one person who should be holding on to me so I don’t fall apart, is too busy to see me coming apart.

Despite the fact that I know this man better than anyone, I often forget the enormous weight on his shoulders with his job, the pressure of his income for our stability, and his efforts to be a good father (which he is) and be there for me too. It’s easy to look at each other and not actually see one another when you get tired. We are a team. Sometimes we just lose sight of the goal.

It’s not often we tell our partners we appreciate all they to contribute to this life we’re building together. I respect how hard the Carpenter works to provide for his family. It’s not an easy job. I admire his parenting skills because he is fair, but also firm with rules, balanced with patience. Love abounds in our house, disguised with laughter. And he is brilliant at keeping me calm, supporting every insane word I write. I realize he deserves to know.

Once upon a time, I wished to fall in love with someone who didn’t try to control my career or my dreams. But I forget that when I take on too much, the Carpenter’s job is not to rescue me. My choices are my own. He never stands in my way, but he’s not a mind reader either. How could he possibly know when to rescue me from myself? Honestly, if he tried, I’d resist. I got what I wished for: the freedom to be myself in a partnership that is worth everything.  I don’t tell him that enough.

I know the value of words, but I also know the man I married is a man of few words. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to hear them though. So on a random Wednesday morning, before the sun rose on his job site hours from home, I sent him a text message with four simple words: “Thank you for everything.”

He rarely replies during the day, but on this day my phone flashed with an instant response: “What did I do?”

I’d caught him off guard. He was waiting for sarcasm.

The night before we hadn’t spoken beyond daily pleasantries, but he’d made dinner, washed dishes and managed the teenage backlash – and delivered a cup of tea to my office so I could keep working. He respects deadlines.

So I replied: “You come home. You choose me. You choose us. And that is everything.”

His response was succinct and perfect: “I like coming home.”

He may never write a sonnet, but the Carpenter nailed it. That’s all I needed to know. That’s everything.

Simple. Sincere. True love.