Anybody who knows both me and my wife knows that Jane is the better half of this marital equation. Even people who don't know us well can usually tell by just a quick glance, because Jane wins hands down in the looks category.
But there's so much more to it than just that. In fact, practically since the day we met, it's been clear as crystal that I married up.
For starters, she's got the better brain. When we were in college, her GPA could've muscled mine into oblivion. She was smart enough to work hard at school, too-she'd study day and night for a test. In comparison, I'd limit my study sessions to the short sidewalk stroll between my dorm room and the classroom on Test Day.
It's no wonder she got better grades. And she liked to keep it that way. Whenever we had classes together, she wouldn't let me anywhere near her, because she didn't want to take the risk that I'd see her answers. She knew I'd cheat like a bandit if I could.
You see? She's honest too! All through our marriage, it's been like this.
Another prime example is that I still haven't caught on to the whole 'paying attention' thing. My wife, in her charming, Southern-belle way, will politely listen as people drone on with their boring stories. She's even kind enough to ask them questions and prompt more droning afterwards.
I, on the other hand, have a tendency to interrupt when I'm even slightly distracted. Whenever Jane and I go out with other people, she has to put a death grip on my leg so I know when I'm butting in to a conversation. I'm learning to keep my mouth shut, but I'm not nearly as good at it as Jane is. The squeeze prints above my knee will attest to that.
There are tons of other areas where my wife is better than me, but it's not just that she's better than me. It's that she's just better, period. She's far better than anything I could've ever asked for, and even after all this time, it still seems like she just gets better and better every day.
I love how she knows when I need some extra encouragement. If I'm feeling down or disappointed in myself, Jane is the one person who can make me feel better in a heartbeat. "Honey," she'll say when I've messed something up, "think about all the times you've done that right. Don't you think you're allowed to not be perfect all the time?"
I love that she gets really competitive sometimes, like just a few weeks ago, how she climbed to the top of a rock wall, to the jaw-dropping shock of our four kids. Or how when she golfs, she grunts sometimes if she's trying to sail it off the tee. Or how she acts like she's not irritated when she's losing at cards.
And, oh, the things she tolerates! She pretends not to notice when I spit in public. She lets me bear-hug her when I'm sweaty and smelling rotten. She just shakes her head when I drive like a maniac, and she'll take a kiss in the morning, even when my sinuses have been dripping all night long.
It's hard to imagine how anyone could put up with me and those antics for all this time. In fact, she's had times (just like I have) when she felt like she married the wrong person. And she's had her share of days (just like I have) when she didn't "feel" love for her spouse.
A lesser person would've left a long time ago. But here she is, still. And I know I'm worlds better for it.
Twenty-three years. Twenty-three! Jane, we've hit Michael Jordan's number; this is bound to be a great year.
Happy Anniversary, Babe. Here's to twenty-three more.
Winning At Home Inc., is a nationally-known organization designed to assist and encourage people of all ages and stages of family development. Dan Seaborn, founder, wrote this article in conjunction with Winning At Home's staff editor Lisa Velthouse. E-mail your questions or comments to email@example.com.