The following quote came up on my social media feed some time ago.

She doesn’t say I love you like a normal person.

Instead she’ll laugh, shake her head and give you a little smile, and say… “You’re an idiot”.

If she tells you you’re an idiot, you are a lucky man.

I couldn’t resist. I had to do it. I shared the quote, tagged you and posted “Hi love, just wanted to say you’re an idiot”.

Cheap laughs, I know. But it amused me at the time.

Admit it. You smiled a bit too.

Then you slipped and fell down two steep flights of steps in our new London home. I was at the train station and you called to tell me you were ok. Scared me silly. I really did call you an idiot then.

Unfortunately, I’m not very original. This inclination to call loved ones stupid has a history beyond you and me.

It started with my mother.

“You idiot! Why weren’t you more careful?” she’d scold after I’d fall and graze my knee. I didn’t mind. I knew she was upset because she didn’t want to see me hurt.

I came home distraught once upon a time because I didn’t get the preschool art prize. It’s an early memory that has stuck. The pain of disappointment was coupled with shock as my mother became so upset she started yelling at my father to do something.

All I needed was a hug.

They say people show their love through their actions. Through small instances of care and tenderness.

Well, there were plenty of those moments throughout my childhood, but I also got yelled at. That’s ok. I understood. The yelling wouldn’t have happened if she did not care.

I try not to yell at you.

Other than calling you the occasional endearing insult, I try to avoid yelling. It only happens when I am upset or frustrated. Thank you for always staying until we work it out.

I still remember the first big argument we had. I’ve forgotten what it was about, but I do remember storming off home and shutting the door on you. I was so cross.

I don’t know what made me go back. But when I opened the door, you were still there. Waiting for me to calm down. Hoping that I would come back so that we could work it out. I think I realised what a good man you were there and then.

I can’t believe it’s almost twenty years since I walked down that Hunters Hill Church to marry you. It will be our 17th anniversary next week.

17 years and I am grateful for the many blessings along the way. God’s given us a strange and wonderful child for almost 14 out of those 17 years. He’s been such a beautiful source of frustration and joy. A good kid who loves us and loves Him. I am always grateful he was placed in our lives.

It’s been wonderful to see you care for our boy. Looking out for him. Poking fun at him. Generally being that rather annoying and embarrassing father he cannot do without.

I know you’ve felt an enormous sense of responsibility and guilt recently. The decision to move to another country hasn’t been an easy one. And I could see it was hard for you to watch us say goodbye to all the people and places we’ve loved.

You idiot.

We both love you very much. As if we wouldn’t go to the ends of the earth for you to support you. We want you to chase your dreams. You should take that for granted. But you don’t. Thank you.

As our anniversary nears, I just wanted to publicly say that our son and I think you are brilliant.

Not an idiot at all.

Here’s to many more years of doing life together. Of understanding each other and growing to love each other more with each passing day.

Much love,

wife.

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