What Marriage Means

Disclaimer: I’m 8,000 months pregnant, which means I’m extra hormonal and schmoopy. But last night, I was thinking about our marriage…

Ever since I got pregnant with Toby, my left foot has been randomly cold. It’s probably bad circulation or something? At night, it feels especially freezing. Still, I always forget to put on a sock before climbing into bed. So, pretty much every night, after we read and chat in bed, and I’m half-asleep, I’ll murmur to Alex, “Would you mind grabbing me a sock?” And every night, he says of course and finds a sock in his drawer (usually one of those gray business socks, if you must know). Then, while I lie there, basically passed out, and hugely pregnant, he’ll put it on my foot.

Last weekend, we were visiting our friends’ cabin in Connecticut, drinking lemonade in their gazebo in the woods, when the skies suddenly opened up, and rain poured down around us. Although he’s never had an asthma attack before, Alex started wheezing. As we chatted in the gazebo, the toddlers playing under our feet, it got harder and harder for him to breathe, and our friend ended up rushing him to the hospital. (As they raced down the country roads, they also HIT A VULTURE. What an omen!) Finally at the hospital, the doctor stabilized Alex with oxygen and steroids and explained that it was allergy-induced asthma due to record-settingly high pollen counts. Apparently, the situation had been very serious, they had arrived at the hospital in the nick of time, and Alex had been moments away from serious trouble.

Afterward, with Alex back in my clutches, I realized that if anything had happened, the things I would miss most would not be splurgy dinners or weekend getaways, but the little things. Who would care enough to put on my sock? And so tenderly? And not find it annoying that I didn’t do it myself? There’s something so heartbreakingly sweet about that act. Those little things are what a marriage is all about, it brings tears to my eyes.
(I told you I was schmoopy.)

P.S. A surprising marriage tip.

(Photo from our friends’ wedding last summer)

  1. Theodora Matta says...

    I think marriage is so many things. I am 62 and have been married for 41 years. Love this man and yet, he drives me crazy! I am sure I do the same to him. The sweetest thing he does and has done for years?…..he makes me a cup of coffee every morning and brings it to me in bed. He doesn’t even drink the stuff but makes a great cup!

  2. Ashley says...

    Ugh this is so sweet. I am getting married in a little less than two months and reading this really struck a chord. Things like ‘the sock’ are totally what deep marriage quality love is all about. I am just so excited.

  3. Susana Silva says...

    Thank you so much for that Joanna.
    I feel so related to this post. Unfortunatley I’m separated, but I have never stopped loving my father’s son. I was the one who decided to bring it to an end, but not a day goes by that I don’t think if I have really done the right thing. Reading your post makes me think that that was exactly what I missed in our relationship – tenderness without finding it annoying. Looking back at it I think he did love me in is own way and I feel really guilty for not being mature or smart enough to get around the personality gap. Anyway life has tricky ways of teaching you, but in the end you have to respect your essence.

  4. I was going through a rough patch with my fiancé, after almost 9 years together since we were 18, it seemed our future was uncertain. After reading this post, I couldn’t hold back the tears, I dont know if it was partly also because of the music we were listening to. Sharing this post with him, it seemed to dissolve the feelings of difficulty we were struggling with and just remember the little things. Thank you for the woderful post!

  5. I have bookmarked this post and have read it several times. I can’t tell you how special this post is to me, and it reminds me so much of the love I share with my own sweet love. I told him about this post recently, coincidentally right before our anniversary, and he adored the story. I love that the little things are what make you appreciate a true love and really melt your heart. Ever since I told him about this post, he asks me every now and then, “Do you need a sock, my love?” Thanks for sharing so much with your readers, I can’t get enough of your sweet stories and kind words. Happy Holidays to your beautiful family!

  6. I’m not even married and that just made me tear up. So so sweet. <3

  7. I love this story, how it’s told and I relate. My husband gets my extra blanket and mouth guard whenever I ask!

  8. I love that you linked back to this on todays post. So so so so so sweet. :’)

  9. lovely

  10. I think about this stuff all the time. My husband and I have been married for 21 years this August. We got married young and I have honestly loved every moment of being together (even when we are both pains in the ass).

    The funny thing is I knew this at 19. I knew that snuggling with him, him teasing me about stuff, the day to day stuff would be my favorite part and it still is.

  11. the little thing in my marriage that i will always appreciate is him greeting me with some stupid balletic spins every morninig =)

  12. I’m not even pregnant, nor have I ever been, but I am in love. And this made me tear up just like the rest of the commenters :) I need to send this to my partner so that he can know (in more eloquent terms than my own) how much I appreciate those little things.

  13. I’m with everyone else here…I was 8,000 months pregnant 4 1/2 years ago and this still made me weep like a baby. Happy last month of pregnancy, Joanna & Alex!

  14. I just love the first 5 words of this post more than anything I’ve read this week.

    Loads of love to your 8,000th month of pregnancy!

  15. I am NOT pregnant and still tearing up. Thank you for sharing, this is so sweet (and thank God Alex is all right!)

    We have a thing with socks also, actually, I find that my hubby’s socks are so much more comfy than mine… so I snooped them all the time :)

  16. I am not married. But I find the one already. What it made me relize he was the one?
    We were datting for 5 months, I was living in Dublin (where he is form; I am from Spain) and I got very sick (My family was in Madrid). I thought I was gonna recover soon, so during the day my friends came to my house and take care of me and in the afternoon-evening my sweet boyfriend came and tryed to make me eat something (he was working during the day). The 3rd day he decided I was going to his house until I recover. He lives with his parents (you know how common is in catholic countries in Europe), so I wasn’t to sure… (I didn’t want to disturb his parents).
    He took care of me for a week in the sweetest way he could. What surprise me more was: Even when I was very sick, with my hair dirty and my legs hairy, he looked at me if I was the most atractive person in this world :)
    This was one year ago. Now I am living in Madrid and soon I will move back to Dublin and we will find an apartment to move in together. Cannot wait!

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  19. What a sweet story. (And seriously, Joanna, your idea of schmoopy is still totally eloquent and relate-able and all-around lovely. Mine usually involves lots of nose-blowing into soggy shirt sleeves. Thank you for sharing and so glad your husband is okay!

    Tanya @

  20. I sent this today to my husband to tell him how much I love him.

  21. I’m glad Alex is okay! That must have book scary! Every night my husband heats up our dinner (we both work so we eat a lot of pre-cooked freezer meals) and we eat our dinner off of the same plate, sitting on the couch. If something happened I wouldn’t know what to do with a whole plate!

  22. Please enjoy the hugeness of your pregnancy… I delivered my beautiful (healthy) baby boy, Mitchell, 9 weeks early this January and long for the day when I will be teetering around our home with swollen ankles and a sore back, meaning I’ve made it to full term.

    Thank you for sharing this poignant reflection. I’ll never forget the way I felt when I leaned out of the shower one evening, stretching to reach my towel that I’d left on the doorw, only to find my husband had moved it to the hook by the shower so that I wouldn’t have to shiver on the cold floor. I never mentioned it to him but that small gesture stopped me in my tracks.

  23. Such a sweet post, and so reminiscent of what I’ve put my poor sweet hubby through. Keepers they are!

  24. i am:
    -not pregnant
    -not married
    -not even seeing anyone
    -at work
    -crying at this sweet sweet post.

  25. Okay well this just made me tear up. In any relationship whether married or not it’s always the little things that matter the most. I’m now 365 days away from my wedding date and this post even made me look forward to it even more (even though I already live with my fiance)…just something about it…