For J, on his Day

To the type of husband who sneaks a cup of coffee onto the bathroom counter while you’re in the shower-

To the type of ‘band who pulls the stove out from the kitchen wall looking for the GFCI outlet, and lets you off the hook when you see a spider, no matter how dirty and dusty it is back there. You flip and dry heave, he remains calm and cleans the entire thing until sparkles-

To the dude who keeps all the plants alive in our house-

The the husband who brings home some nail clippers randomly one day from the store because he remembers yours got confiscated in the Cancun airport-

To the husband who can capture the perfect picture of your baby niece’s sparkly shoe on a skateboard

To the guy who lets you pick the Garden Salsa Sun chips even though he really wants the Harvest Cheddar-

To the husband who wakes up one day and with a tiny shovel rips out the front bushes or finds our screens in the garage-

To the guy who secretly fills up the humidifier when it’s my turn and I’m already in bed-

To the husband who leaves these in my car-

And this on my table-

For no reason at all.

To the husband who brings home an US weekly before a road trip because he thinks its the kind of magazine I like-

To the guy who walks into Charming Charlies, picks a colorful pair of sandals, and orders them in my size for an unexpected birthday surprise-

To the man who took me to the top of a 14-thousand foot mountain on our honeymoon-

To the guy who values everything I write and every pic I take-

To the husband who always offers me the last slice of pizza, the last bite of cookie, the last kernel of popcorn-

To my Friday morning egg-maker and my Sunday morning road-tripper-

You will never believe how glad I am that you were born. We need a new word for glad. Happy Birthday!

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Operating Instructions: First Year of Marriage

1. While many people are afraid they’ll discover some kind of annoying habit about the other during the first year, it turns out marriage functions like a full-length mirror. You might discover some crazy habit you didn’t know about yourself reflecting right back. (Me? Yes, you.)

2. Sometimes you can learn adaptive habits from each other, like making the bed every day. There! Now, doesn’t your day feel more organized? Yes!

3. Per the prior, the last one out of bed makes it. Except for today.

4. Sometimes you need to go to the bathroom for 45 minutes. What you do in there (examine your pores, pluck your eyebrows, steam clean your face over the sink on one leg with John Legend on your ipod- whatever) is your own business. It used to be your SSB: Secret Single Behavior. Now it’s your Secret Married Behavior. It’s okay to keep it secret.

5. Separate bathrooms are icing on the cake.

6. Engage in hobbies together. People might laugh when you turn your living room into photo studio, but it’s y’alls own thing.

7. A programmable thermostat can help facilitate this discussion: The heat was on all day?

8. One of you may be the type to save the good champagne and Swiss fondue for a special occasion; the other may want to pop the cork at 8pm on a Tuesday. Find a way to make 8pm on Tuesday a special occasion. S’mores fondue night by the river? Yesssss.

9. Re-evaluate goals when things like thousand-dollar car repairs come up. You’re probably working toward something. Continuously reset the course together.

10. Keep a bottle of Fat Bastard in the house to uncork after your first fight. The presence of the wine itself may keep you from having a worst-ever first fight.¬† For all who wondered, we have not yet opened the Fat Bastard…

11. You might accidentally buy a house. When you do, agree in advance how many towel bars and curtain rods you will ask him to help hang. There is a threshold.

12. Per the prior, don’t flood the house.

13. Per the prior, know where the water shut-off is if you begin to flood the house.

14. Per the prior, when your spouse floods the house, take the opposite temperament, call the insurance company, set up a fan, and get away for the weekend. It will fix everything.

15. Discretionary spending accounts: one of you may be at a constant balance of $5 as you happily line up shoes and play with new hair accessories (Jeff?); The other could fly to Hawaii with his. Mutual goals achieved otherwise.

16. The Ron Hartman rule: don’t take the last slice of pizza.

17. Post-it notes, breakfast in bed, and knee squeezes- excellent forms of nonverbal communication.

18. If you can make each other laugh, you’re already through it.

Any tips for year two?