I never forget to tell my children how much I love them. Every single day, without fail, they are smothered in kisses and wrestled to the ground with mommy bear hugs. In every voice imaginable, I tell them how much they are loved. It is automatic and I do it whether the children have behaved or have told me that dinner was yucky and screamed at me because I had the nerve to put them down for a nap.
Married love is not like this. At least it is not anymore. There was a time that the love was automatic, in the early days when our love was new and I could really feel the weight of our love in my heart and it still filled my stomach with butterflies. I don’t know exactly when it happened, maybe it was before kids, maybe after Carson was born, but I know at some point I started to forget to tell Tate that I loved him, to tell him everyday.
Now those three little words, “I love you,” are said only sporadically, when Tate doesn’t need to right some wrong I’ve imagined or when I’m not too tired. (I’m always too tired.) Married love is not automatic, it is constant work, filled with reminders of patience, reminders that we LOVE each other. There are strings attached.
It doesn’t matter that I don’t want it to be this way. Forgetting to tell Tate that I love him can be likened to forgetting to put ketchup on the grocery list. My mental to do list waits to fulfill this intention, but by the time I see him in the evening, I’ve moved on from the thought of a kind gesture to whining, pants tugging children and dinner boiling over on the stove.