The following is a guest post by my friend, Brian Holcomb. It spawned out of a conversation he and I were having about wives. In the first paragraph, he notes that it may seem weird for a post like this to be on a blog like this, but I’m going to say that if you don’t feel this way about your wife, the way Brian and I feel about our wives, you need to do some serious self-reflection.
This may seem a little strange and personal especially for a guest post on a masculinity blog, but after talking with Tom the other night, I have some thoughts that have to be shared. The fact is, every man, the real men that I’ve known, not the players, assholes, and douchebags but the real men have felt this way about the women they love most and I’ve recently been able to articulate it a little better I think than most of us usually can, so here goes.
Being a woman is hard. We men get a lot of grief over being competitive, but we pick things to compete over and we’re loud about it. Who’s the best golfer? Who’s the best rifle shot? Who’s the best shotgunner? Who’s the best deer hunter? Who built the fastest car? Guys can answer these questions about their group of friends without effort because that’s what we do. Women on the other hand, whether they talk about it or not compete with each other about everything. They’re always comparing themselves to the other ladies around them and to the images they’re presented in media.
A woman’s looks are important. Right or wrong our society places a lot of value on how pretty a woman is. Women are bombarded constantly with products and gimmicks to improve their physical attractiveness. They’re constantly given impossibly high standards to compare themselves to, and frankly, I hate it.
I have spent most of my life surrounded by women. I never got very close to my dad, and despite the fact that we cannot live under the same roof without grinding each other’s nerves raw I’m much closer to my mother, especially since a brain tumor took Dad from us five years ago at only 51 years old. I have three sisters, married into a family of seven sisters, all my cousins I’m close to are girls, and I have an aunt five years older than me who’s much more sister than an aunt to me. Most of my closest relationships have been with women, I connect more easily with them. I have a number of close friends who I call my adopted sisters. My maternal grandmother and I are very close, we regularly spend hours on the phone together. I have two daughters. My life is surrounded by and greatly enriched by a lot of wonderful women. I love them all deeply and I’m very protective of them.
My wife, though, she’s special. She’s a one off, I’m sure the mold was broken when she was made. From the day I met her until now she remains the most beautiful, interesting, caring, and impressive person I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Every morning when I wake up next to her and every night that I go to sleep next to her I marvel. I am the luckiest son of a bitch in all of history, in all the multiverse. I don’t know what right I did to deserve her, but I feel wholly unworthy to be allowed to spend my life with her. I don’t just love her, I venerate her. I know most of the guys reading this are saying “No, I’M married to the best woman in the entire multiverse!” I’ll leave y’all to your delusions because I am.
This is where I come back to the common theme amongst us, the real men who’ve been lucky enough to find the woman of our dreams and somehow convince her to put up with us.
You’ll notice earlier I used the word “pretty” talking about what media tells us about a woman’s appearance. Then when talking about my Cathy I used the word beautiful. To me, they’re different words. Pretty is skin deep. Models are pretty. Christina Hendricks is pretty. I could make a list, but I think you get my meaning. Beauty is more. Beauty is deeper, encompassing the whole person, body, mind, and soul.
Let me tell you something about being beautiful, ladies. It’s a hell of a lot more than what you look like on the outside. It’s how we, the men who love and adore you, see you. I’ve been married for 10.5 years. Does my wife look different from when we got married? Sure she does. Thanks to wonderful Filipino genes she can still pass for being 23, which is how old she was when we got married, but that doesn’t really matter. You see, she’s stuck with me for 10.5 years now. We’ve been through a lot. She bore two beautiful little girls, my children. We’ve been dirt poor and working our butts off to make ends meet. She’s stood by me through more near-death experiences than I can count. Just this year I can count 3 times that I was potentially only hours or days from dying. I’m a 12-year liver transplant recipient with a lot of other health problems, we’ve had more close calls than I can recall anymore. Surgeries, hospitalizations, weeks where I’ve been so sick and in pain that I’ve been stuck in bed unable to do anything. She’s always been there. Thanks to Obamacare we’re paying the cost of a $250,000 mortgage each month for health insurance, and that’s through her work. For 4 years now she’s worked full time, with almost all her wages going to cover the health insurance required to keep me alive. Can you imagine working 40 hr weeks to get a $120 paycheck after two weeks? She’s been doing that for 4 years.
Those things all make her more beautiful in my eyes. I know the measure of her character and soul, I know what she’s endured for me. I feel totally unworthy, but she sees something in me. I can honestly say that she’s never been more beautiful to me than when getting up bleary eyed at 0530 to go to work, or when coming home at midnight when she’s worked evenings. When she was hugely pregnant, tired, sick, and had cankles and varicose veins, she was beautiful to me. She always will be. She has no competition. She will always be the most beautiful woman in the world to me. I see her for everything she is, not just the pretty packaging, because she really is gorgeous. She’s so much more though and all that factors into how I see her.
Ladies I speak for your husbands here. Has your butt gotten bigger? Are your boobs a bit saggy? Do you have stretch marks that look like a topographical map of Utah? Do you have bags under your eyes? Guess what? It doesn’t matter to us. We’ll always support you in your efforts to be healthier, look better, and what have you because we know that your self-image is very important. But you’ll always be the most beautiful woman in the world to us. When I say this, I know that I speak for many more men than just myself. I would not trade anything or anybody for my wife. There may be prettier women in the world. Pretty is skin deep. I know her deeply and our bond has been forged in the fires of the very worst that life can throw at us. There’s no need for her to compare herself to other women because in my eyes NOBODY can hope to measure up to her. That’s the truth of it. I see her for everything that she is, and most of the time I’m pretty damned inarticulate at saying it, but she has always been the most beautiful woman in the world to me and every day she only becomes more beautiful.
One day even she will be old, wrinkly, and saggy. Hell, she might even get fat. I can tell you right now that when that time comes I will still happily jump into bed with her just as eagerly as I did when we were 23-year-old newlyweds. That’s because I love her. When I look at her, I see not only her appearance but everything that we’ve gone through, every day of my life that has been so greatly blessed and brightened by having her in it. I have gutted my way through a lot to finally get to where I am now, with a relatively decent paying job and about to (finally) complete my undergrad degrees and go on to bigger and better things. It’s been hard. Beyond hard. If not for her, I would have given up years ago. I honestly doubt that I’d be alive today because it wouldn’t be worth the amount of work and pain that it is to simply be me every day if she weren’t at my side. She’s saved my life. She’s given me purpose. I endure a lot of pain physical and otherwise because having her and my daughters by my side makes it worthwhile. There is nobody who can compete with her. Ever.
Ladies, if you’re still reading this put yourself in place of my wife and your husband in mine. Not all the details will match up, but the sentiment, the feeling does. I finally understand my father. I understand why I seriously thought he was going to murder me for being a disrespectful little shit to my mother. I’ve seen this in many of the excellent male role models I had growing up. Even though we’re often pretty bad at expressing it, you ladies are our worlds. We’d be lost without you and there is nobody who will ever be more beautiful to us no matter what happens to you. Get fat, get wrinkly, and let your hair turn gray. It won’t change how we see you at all. You’re the most beautiful woman in the world to us and you always will be.
I have a lot of people to thank for giving me the examples to emulate to understand the thoughts and feelings I’ve expressed here. My father and grandfathers, and some great men I had the privilege of knowing as a young man. Wade, LD, Dennis, Jan, Sean, Dave, thank you and your wonderful wives for teaching by example lessons I didn’t even know I needed to learn. Most of all, though, my wife Catherine. For choosing to spend her life with me and tolerating me with all my many faults. Thank you for standing by me and making life worthwhile. Thank you for understanding and supporting me as I have adopted extra sisters. I can never say it enough, but though I love many it is only you I venerate. Without you, Cassandra, and Abigail, nothing would have meaning. Thank you for being you.