People sometimes get exhausted just looking at my family (it happens when you have five really little kids), and I often get a sympathetic “Do you guys ever get any alone time?” Yes, of course! Almost every night is a “date” night in our house (we just never go anywhere). We put the kids to bed, and I get to do my favorite thing in the world: spend time with Rachel. I look forward to it every day. Where would I rather be right now? No matter when you ask me, my answer is always the same. I’d rather be with Rachel. When I’m at work (my dream job)? I’d rather be with Rachel. When I’m out with friends? Yep, I’d rather be with Rachel.
Why? Because I’m in love my wife. Why do I love my wife? That’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer, but it is the question that Joel Schmidt at The Practicing Catholic has challenged men to answer this Valentine’s day. It isn’t difficult to answer because I can’t think of things I love about my wife. It’s difficult to answer because through my wife’s love, I experience something like Pope Benedict XVI describes in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “love promises infinity, eternity—a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence”. Through Rachel’s love, I’m pulled out of the normal world, and I can grasp just a little bit of infinity, a slice of the Divine here on earth. So, while I don’t think I’m capable of explaining something so transcendent, I can give a glimpse of some of Rachel’s amazing qualities that orient me to the supernatural.
1. She’s Sanctifying
I am sanctified through my wife. On paper, she’s the convert and I’m the cradle Catholic. The reality is nearly the opposite. As a girl, she wanted to be a nun, and when we met in high school, she had a strong desire for the Eucharist. I, the Catholic, couldn’t fathom what the big deal was. But, her longing for God was infectious, and as she grew in her faith, I was right behind her. And, it never stops. Just when I think we’re getting pretty darn holy, she knows better and pushes our whole family to learn more about the faith and devote ourselves more to prayer and the sacraments.
It rubs off on other people too. She has literally brought strangers to tears at Mass when asked questions like “why do you wear that veil?” An elderly woman once took a look at Rachel praying and said “God, please put in my head whatever prayers that woman is praying.”
2. She’s Disciplined
Rachel is tremendously disciplined, intelligent, efficient, and all-around excellent at whatever she does. She runs a tight ship, and I sometimes joke with her that she could be a Six Sigma Black Belt. One of the things I love about her is her passion to put this brain power and willpower in the service of our family. Whether it’s feeding our family on $40/week (when we were getting out of debt), reorganizing our laundry workflow for maximum efficiency and throughput, or running the most cutting-edge homeschool preschool in town; Rachel uses her gifts for the good of the family.
3. She’s Thoughtful
Remember that cool-thing/idea/need you came across months ago? No? Well, Rachel remembers. And, she used this information to get you a great gift or do something really nice for you. I can’t match this, but thank God she loves me anyway!
4. She’s Self-Giving
Rachel desires good for those she loves. She puts us first, and if she can provide us with a good at her own expense, she doesn’t hesitate. She gives of herself in hundreds of little ways every day. For example, she’s a cheese-lover who cut out dairy (and soy) from her diet because it seems to help the stomach of our 4-month-old daughter. You’re also likely to find her bringing meals to families with new babies and taking bags of groceries to the homeless guys with the signs near the Interstate. I had to convince her to stop giving blood because she was always passing out in the bloodmobiles.
5. She’s Tough
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Rachel is the toughest, strongest woman I know. She’s given birth five times (three inductions) without any pain medication. She’ll take all the kids (even four kids under four while eight-months pregnant) by herself to the library or the grocery store, and she’ll gently keep them in line the whole time without losing her cool. She also courageously stands up for what she knows is right when most of us (Catholic Sistas bloggers excepted) would be too afraid to speak up. Many people who know her think it’s just easy for her or that she’s just tremendously talented and fearless. OK, maybe it’s a little of that, but it’s mostly sheer fortitude through the grace of God.
6. She’s Imperfect
While I’ll encourage that this post be archived for the day when Rachel’s cause for canonization comes up, she’s also imperfect (and she’ll probably contest all of points 1 through 5 on the grounds of rose-colored glasses). Sometimes she’s not particularly holy or disciplined or thoughtful or selfless or tough. And sometimes I have to tell her to take a break. That’s one of the things I love most about her. She keeps her chin up most of the time, but when she’s vulnerable, tired, and feels like giving up; she lets me be there for her. She lets me be chivalrous. She lets me love her back.
Why do you love your wife? If you’ve got a blog, let’s hear it (and link up with the event at The Practicing Catholic). If not, tell us in the comments.
*Eric is the husband of an amazing woman and the father of five adorable children aged five and under. He does his best to live his vocation as God asks of him, and he thanks God for every moment he gets to spend doing it.*