Stairway with Valentine's balloons

This morning I did the math and realized it’s been six months to the day since J and I got married in San Diego. When we picked August 14 as our wedding date, we didn’t realize it was Pakistani Independence Day (a fact one of J’s coworkers promptly pointed out to us), and we didn’t consciously calculate that our half-anniversary would fall on Valentine’s Day. August 14, 2010 was simply a Saturday that worked for us, and now that will be our anniversary date for better or worse, ’til death do us part.

Valentine's cakes and cookies

In the past six months, J and I have celebrated one Christmas, two birthdays, and now our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, and I’m still surprised at the novelty of shopping for a “husband” greeting card for each of these occasions. When J and I were dating, I’d always gravitate toward cute or humorous cards rather than the stereotypically romantic (read: mushy) “hearts and flowers” ones…and I always tripped over the term “boyfriend” and even “fiance,” both of which sounded terribly age-inappropriate. My 20-something students have boyfriends and fiances, so it always felt odd to use the same term for my sweetheart that they’d use for theirs.

Now that J and I are married, I find myself chuckling whenever I peruse the greeting cards specifically geared toward “husbands.” The first time I was married, “wife” wasn’t a term I felt comfortable with. I didn’t feel like I fit the job description of a “wife,” whatever that was, so the term always felt like an ill-fitting coat: big, boxy, and bothersome. Now this second time around, I no longer feel like “wife” is a job I have to “do”: it’s simply one way of describing one aspect of who I am. Either I’ve grown into that previously ill-fitting coat, or I’ve realized that “wife,” like a scarf, is a garment that drapes itself to whatever shape you’d like: you can wear it this way or that, depending on your style or fancy.

Valentine's balloons

As much as I’ve settled into the role of “wife,” I’ve realized over these past six months that J was pretty much born to be a husband. J is one of those quintessential “nice guys” who simply likes being domesticated. Given the choice between going out and staying in, J will always choose the latter: even when we go to hockey games or other “man’s man” events, J’s the guy who’s quiet, sober, and respectful while the rowdies around us are swearing, spilling beer, and otherwise raising hell. J’s the kind of guy who thrives on predictability rather than spontaneity, so we’ve quickly settled into a “boring married routine” that fits like an old shoe: nothing snazzy or stylish, but something comfortably familiar.

And so the day before Valentine’s Day, the closest J and I came to celebrating was to rearrange our usual Sunday schedule so we could watch an afternoon Celtics game on TV, eating takeout sandwiches from the deli where we normally have brunch…and then promptly falling asleep in front of the TV, tired from having gotten up early so J could have a morning conference call with a colleague across the world. Last night, when J and I exchanged Valentine’s Day cards a day early, I had to chuckle at the unintentional appropriateness of the card I’d chosen, which showed a cartoon couple napping on a couch in front of a TV, the caption reading, “A kiss is just a kiss, and a sigh is just a sigh…but a loud snore means you’re happily married.”