Ok, so I’m going to totally brag for a second. Don’t worry, it’s not about me.
See, I have an awesome husband. I’m one of those women that other women are always pulling aside and saying stuff like, “Steve is SUCH a great guy! You’re so lucky!” and “If only we all had a Steve.” Dudes are constantly joking, “Tell him to stop! He’s making the rest of us look bad!” Seriously. Nonstop.
What is it about him that inspires such sentiments? Well, it’s pretty simple. Steve is just a really great guy, all around. Great boss, great dad, great husband. Nay- amazing husband. He’s fun, easy to talk to, kind, thoughtful, generous, funny, smart, and a great listener. My sister once described him as “the most instantly welcoming person I’ve ever met.”
It’s all true. I’m a lucky girl. But really, that generic stuff only scratches the surface. I’d like to take a moment to share with you a few of the things Steve does, all the time, that take our marriage from “pretty good” to so great that women are always commenting on our social media with “#relationshipgoals” and “Does Steve have a single brother? Or have we figured out cloning technology yet….?”
We all know the basics, because we read them all the time. Supporting each other, good communication, compromise, blah blah blah. Yes, marriage is work, and the basics are important. However, if I may, I’d like to offer you all the not-so-obvious things my husband does that I’ve realized make us insanely strong, not to mention make me extremely happy.
And, as we all know…
1. He appreciates everything like crazy.
When Steve and I first started dating, I noticed this super cute thing he would do. When I said, “I love you,” he would respond, “Thank you! I love you, too!” I thought that was so adorable, thanking me for something as simple as expressing my love for him.
As time went on, though, I realized he thanks me constantly, for everything. Which has inspired me to do the same. It might be cheesy- and yes, our friends have made fun of us- but it feels absolutely amazing to be so appreciated. He thanks me for clearing his plate, rubbing his shoulders, booking our flights, loving his family, working any job, basically everything I do.
It might seem like overkill, but for us, it’s perfect. It’s a constant reminder that taking another person into account all the time isn’t easy, and that we appreciate the effort. It makes me want to do more things for Steve, to take care of him, to contribute, because I know he takes time to notice it, and truly appreciates it.
It also forces me to pay attention to all that he’s doing, since I’m looking for things to thank him for. This helps me realize just how much he does for me, for us, and for our family. Which means I’m seeing the best of him, and focusing on that.
2. He supports the crap out of me.
Obviously, it’s important to support your spouse. You have to support their dreams and goals, and be on their team whatever happens. Steve, being Steve, takes it a step further.
See, my husband understands that I’m an artist. Which basically means I have an ego made of fragile china. It also means I have a million “life-changing” ideas all the time that I get really excited about, even if I forget about them the next day. I bring my ideas, my creations, and my brainstorms to Steve first, because he is the most supportive person ever in existence. He will never deflate me. He will never criticize first. He will never question if I’m serious about something. He has learned not to try to be “realistic” or to force me to be.
When I share something with Steve, he is my biggest cheerleader. He truly believes I can do or make or accomplish anything I set my mind to, and he leads with that. This, for me, is huge. However….
3. He also gives his honest feedback, when prompted.
I have a brilliant, successful husband with a master’s degree. I would sort of be an idiot not to listen to his take on the things I do, or want to do.
After Steve is supportive and pumps me up, I usually ask for his ideas about what I’m working on. He is incredibly insightful and helpful, and here’s the best part: He never gets sick of helping me.
If I need a blog proofread, a character choice analyzed, a sketch given another pair of eyes, he’s there, letting me know how honored he feels to be involved. It’s the most amazing feeling, to know you truly are on the same team, with a teammate who has his own stuff to do, but is ready to jump off the bench any time you need him.
Now, sure, I still have that fragile ego we discussed. We have learned the no-fly zones. He knows better than to direct my acting when filming an audition, because even though he’s trying to help, I’ve been doing this professionally for quite some time now. But he’s also an expert in many things, creative and otherwise, so I count myself lucky to have his voice.
When I ask for it. Which he happens to be totally okay with.
4. He does more than his fair share around the house. Really.
So here I am, with this awesome husband, who has a crazy demanding job, not to mention three children. Oh, and he flies back and forth to LA constantly to be with me. He’s sort of earned a “do a little less around the house” card, right?
I would agree with that statement, actually. However, we live in two places, and have two homes, so there is a LOT to do. I definitely need his help to keep on top of things.
A lot of couples argue about housework, and we are no different. However, our arguments go like this:
Me: “Babe, will you please just sit down and watch football? You don’t have to do all the dishes!”
Him: “I’m almost done, I’ll be there in a minute.”
Me: “I can’t relax unless you relax!”
Him: “I’ll feel better if I just get them done, honey.”
This is what my life has become. Trying to convince my husband to do less around the house.
The truth is, he makes me want to be cleaner and more organized. I see how much he does, and I can’t wait to take care of his laundry for him or have the apartment spotless when his flight lands. As a creative person, motivating me to want to clean is a feat deserving of a Nobel Prize, but because he does so much without ever needing to be asked, I want to return the favor.
That’s some incredible Jedi mind trick crap, I’m telling you.
5. He diffuses fights.
I’m going to confess something that I’m sure will shock you: I’m a pretty dramatic person.
*pause for gasps*
I know, marrying an actress isn’t exactly signing up for a peaceful, quiet life. See video, for more information on this:
But herein lies the magic of Steve. He doesn’t avoid arguments (see number 7), but he does know when they are starting to get ridiculous, and how to stop them before they start.
Example? Imagine I’m tired, and probably a little hungry. Steve doesn’t hear something I’ve said, forcing me to repeat myself, a pet peeve of mine. These are prime conditions for me to, shall we say, “start something.” Maybe I throw out a snarky comment, ready to battle. Enter, my husband.
He will take me so seriously that it becomes quickly obvious I’m being ridiculous, causing me to crack up. Or, he will straight up make me laugh. If the situation calls for it, he will just be super sweet and patient for a few minutes until I snap out of it.
If it goes on too long, maybe he will snap back, which is so out of character and amazing for him that it will inevitably make me laugh at that.
What he doesn’t do, ever, is try to “win,” or dominate the fight, or shut me down, or blame me, or start bringing up the past, or call me names, or any of the other millions of things he could do to add fuel to the fire.
95% of the time we end up laughing. I usually apologize for being crazy, and he apologizes for whatever stupid thing I was irritated about, and he finds me food as quickly as humanly possible.
6. He surprises me.
Yes, this might be right out of the marriage handbook, but Steve takes it to a whole new level.
Sometimes they are huge surprises, like the way he proposed, secretly booking a weekend adventure ending with a huge party back home, with all my loved ones in one place, disguised as a birthday party. More often, it’s a card he’s actually mailed me, or left under my pillow when he leaves. It’s little notes around the house. It’s filling up my gas tank without mentioning it, or planning a trip to see me a weekend I thought would be impossible.
I like to surprise him, too. In fact, if you know us, you’ve probably been a part of some master plan intended to delight the other one. Sometimes, this backfires. (Like the time he ended up in Colorado Springs trying to surprise me, and I was in Denver trying to surprise him at the same time.) Almost always, however, it’s amazing.
The thing about surprises is that someone has to plan them. They have to think about you when you aren’t in front of them, and try to find a way to bring you a little extra happiness. They have to guess what would make you smile, or fill your heart with joy, and try to execute it without you- the closest person in the world to them- knowing it’s coming.
The message of a surprise is, “You are not an afterthought, someone who gets what’s left of my energy after my exhausting days. You are important to me, and I’m happy when I can make you happy.”
“Oh, and you are very, very loved.”
7. He wants to be better.
Our partners aren’t perfect, just like we aren’t perfect. And, yes, we are expected to love them, just as they are, flaws and all. Of course, I do love all of Steve, even the cracks.
What makes this even easier, though, is Steve’s dedication to be a better person, all the time. He is, as they say, happily “in progress,” with an open mind toward learning how to be stronger, wiser, better, in every way.
Here is an example. When we met, Steve was not good at conflict. Not at all. Fear of confrontation, which goes hand in hand with crappy communication. He came from a conflict-avoiding background, and came out of a relationship where conflict was heavy and ugly. We’ve all been there.
It was a real challenge at first. Every time we tried to discuss a slightly hard topic – as all relationships face- he would shut down. He became incredibly nervous, and had no idea how to express his feelings.
This could have been a deal breaker, but we were lucky. I’ve worked my ass off to become a clear communicator after a lifetime of not having that, and I endeavored to help him. So, because Steve was so open to growing and being better, we made progress. Incredible progress. Quickly. He wasn’t just practicing out of necessity, he was excited at the prospect of learning how to communicate his feelings, how to deal with issues head-on instead of stuffing them under the rug, how to confront problems and people in his day to day life when it was called for.
With that enthusiasm, we quickly became masters of communication. We can talk through anything now, both of us excited to get to the other side. We almost never argue or need to.
This desire to be better also leads Steve to be awesomely open-minded. He’s happy to be dragged to the gym, to try yoga with me, to learn to love broccoli, and to always try to see things in a new way. It’s inspiring, needless to say.
8. He’s not afraid to look ridiculous.
Ask anyone who knows Steve, and they will happily tell you this: the man is up for anything.
When you’re married to me, “anything” can be some pretty insane stuff. I tend to get into crazy situations, I’ll admit. As my husband, that means sometimes you go on a weird game show that involves guessing what you’re smelling. Maybe you eat termites off a tree. It’s possible you’ll end up wearing a mullet and carrying around a blow up cell phone as big as your head. Once, it meant discussing our phone sex habits with Ellen Degeneres on national TV.
I mean, it’s never boring.
Life can and should be crazy, full of new experiences. Having a partner who is totally down means you’ll have the courage to try more of these crazy things, and you never have to go it alone. If you make a fool of yourself, he’ll be standing beside you, exactly as foolish.
As we always remind each other, marriage makes the good times twice as good, and the bad times half as bad.
I also love this because I love that we are teaching our kids by example to go for it, try it, and not worry about what you look like, or what people will think. Pretty awesome bonus.
9. He really, really listens.
Something Steve does really well is listen. He’s honestly the best listener I’ve ever known. I mean, ever. Like, take how interested your mom can pretend to be in the dream you had last night, and triple it. He’s that good.
I can talk. Man, can I talk. Once my brain starts going, I can babble on for hours about the sound of ant feet on a contact microphone, or what I really think of socialism, or the magical properties of spirulina. I sometimes talk myself all the way to sleep. Seriously. (I realize right about now, you’re all very glad Steve married me, and you don’t have to.)
I also love to talk to my best friend- meaning, my husband- about real stuff. Big life stuff. Things I’m going through. Growing pains. Problems I have. All of it.
From ant feet to eating disorders, Steve listens to it all. He asks a million questions. He makes me feel like the smartest, most fascinating person in the world.
What I really love is watching him do this with other people, too. He’s a truly curious, interested person, which is part of the reason…
10. He can go anywhere with me.
I’ve been in relationships where you have to babysit your partner. They are shy, maybe, and need you by their side at a party. When you bring them to meet your family, you throw out conversation starters, and ideas of what to say to make a good impression. (“Compliment Grandma’s pie, she’s very proud of it!”) You worry they might embarrass you if they drink too much, or that they will eat the last piece of cake every time, or won’t offer to pay.
Not Steve. He can talk to anyone, anywhere. He is just as comfortable playing euchre in Huntington, Indiana as he is hanging out with Ne-yo at a party in the Hamptons. I often lose track of him at events, because he’s made so many friends and gotten sucked into a game of air hockey or some weird adventure. He’s an excellent conversationalist, so I never worry about what he will say. He doesn’t put pressure on me to make sure he’s having a good time.
He just goes ahead and has it!
The best part is, when someone is important to me, they are important to him. When he meets my friends and family, he treats them the same way he treats me- like they are the most interesting people in the world.
11. He leaves his technology lying around.
This is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Before Steve, I dated a guy who was a total disaster. Commitment-phobe doesn’t do it justice. When we started seeing each other I was a normal, trusting girl. A year and a half later, I was the kind of person who stole her boyfriend’s (or, guy she was seeing who didn’t like label’s) phone and locked herself in the bathroom. This is what happens when a man says he loves you then secretly dates like three other women. Then apologizes and goes to therapy to get better for you.
Then keeps dating many other women….
I feel I’m digressing. The point is, I was clear with my husband from day 1. Like, hey, my ex did a number on me, and I have trust issues. So, the entire time we have been together, he has been an open book.
Steve doesn’t take his phone into the bathroom every time he has to pee. He actually hands it to me to read him texts, or falls asleep while I play a game on it. He leaves me his laptop to work on when he’s gone. I have his passwords to every account, every device. He never blinks when I reach for his phone to check the time. He didn’t even get mad that time I went crazy and secretly read all his email for the past 5 years or so.
He literally asked me if I felt better.
Luckily, I quickly realized this was not a man I need to check up on. He is in, like crazy, all the way in, with both feet.
I love that when I meet a friend or coworker, they know so much about me. I can trust that he always brings me up, and has only kind things to say. Once I asked how he describes me, and the first thing he said was, “She’s my best friend.”
To bring me back from the trust abyss was no small feat, but this guy did it, simply by understanding, being patient, and being honestly trustworthy. Simple, but huge.
12. He lets me offer, instead of demanding.
I’m the type of person that hates being told what to do. As soon as someone suggests something, I immediately want to do the opposite. Probably pretty childish, but I’ve always been this way. I want to come to it myself, because I really hate feeling like I’m just following orders.
Steve totally gets this.
I think it is one part understanding me psychologically, one part truly appreciating all that I have to deal with in our relationship and not wanting to ask more, and one part wanting me to be happy.
Here is a great real life example. We live in two separate states, so at one point, we had two cars at each location- one for each of us. Recently, Steve starting spending a lot more time in Michigan for work than he was previously, so one of our LA cars was just sort of sitting there.
The problem was this: we had his car, a lease, and my car, which we purchased, and which I loved. A dream car. His car sat there, lousy with miles, begging to be driven, barely touched. Maybe one day a month we would need both. Sometimes we lent the second car to visitors. It was so pointless, not to mention, an unnecessary expense. (And car insurance in LA for a sports car is not cheap!)
Not once did Steve suggest getting rid of my car. Never. He thought of possibly trying to transfer his lease. We discussed the expense vs reward of taking his car to Michigan. But selling my little baby? Didn’t come up.
Then, all at once, I realized how silly I was being. Yes, I loved my little black convertible. Yes, the twin turbo engine was insane. Yes, I felt like the Queen of Badass when I drove it. But, we didn’t need it. At all. So, I suggested to Steve we sell it.
He was cautious, but I insisted I really wanted to unload the extra car. I convinced him it was a good idea, a fair idea. He was extremely grateful for the extra money we would have, and I got to feel like a benevolent goddess, bestowing treasure on my mate.
Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea. Steve trusts, generally, that I will come to a good, smart decision about things, so he doesn’t pressure me. He lets it play out. He knows if he does start making demands, I’ll only dig my heels in anyway. But when it’s my gracious idea, I’m all too happy to be the hero of the story.
13. He sees the best in me.
We have this saying, “You shine your light on the brightest parts of me,” that we started using early on. Basically, it just means, you notice the best things in me, and it makes them stronger and brighter, and the bad stuff fades a little.
Steve puts his focus on my positives. He tells me all the time that I am beautiful, smart, capable, fun, and strong. It isn’t just that he compliments me, he really sees those things above all my little flaws. I’m not perfect, but he makes it clear that my good parts are really, really good.
This does two great things for our marriage. One, it actually makes those qualities stronger in me, because that is where our attention goes. If someone tells you you’re smart, you feel confident about being smart, and you live in that truth. If someone really sees how hard you’re trying, even though you might not be successful in what you’re doing, it makes you want to try harder. You want to really be that amazing person that they see.
It’s just like with a child. If you tell them they are bad kids, eventually they will probably start acting like it. If you tell them they are great singers, they will likely continue to sing. Right?
The second thing it does for our marriage is encourage me to find the best in him as well. He makes me feel so special, so amazing, I want him to feel the same way. It’s important he knows I see what an incredible person he is, even though he might mess up or fall short sometimes. When we see the best in our partners, they will strive to be their best.
At least, that’s been true for us, so far. Steve calls it “real love.” Meaning, there is romantic love, the mushy stuff, then there is “real love,” wanting this imperfect person to feel happy, trusted, lifted up, supported, understood, and free. No matter what.
All I know is that I sure do love being loved by this man. I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but I’m awfully happy I did it!
*Cue the part of the musical where I break into song*