This is a submission in our monthly contest. November’s theme is Gratitude. When I married the love of my life four years ago, he got a package deal. He knew he was signing up to be a parent, day one, because I already had a six-year-old daughter. Don’t get me wrong: when I think about how giving and gracious this man is, I still get butterflies in my stomach. When I think about how he loved my little girl like his own, it makes my heart smile. And now, four years into marriage, we have our own little girl and he still makes them both feel like the most important girl in the world. But, I’m not talking about all that sappy stuff when I say how grateful I am for that man. I’m talking about how he handled what he gave up. We didn’t have a big fancy wedding or a honeymoon. We didn’t jet-set around the world, or even take sporadic romantic weekends away. We couldn’t even make last-minute movie plans on a Friday night but we always had to book a babysitter a week in advance. Instead of weekends filled with tailgating, bar-hopping, and the most amazing concerts, we spent them at the park and watching Disney movies. Don’t get me wrong: of course, I love the time I spend with my kids. But, I missed the spontaneity that comes with a new relationship. I missed not knowing where the weekend, or even the night, might lead with my new love. And, I constantly worried, he missed his freedom. But, that giving and gracious man never made me feel that way. He never complained or asked for nights off or gave me shoulda-woulda-couldas. In fact, he actually loves the time we spend at the park, and the Zoo, and reading kids’ books, and fixing puzzles. And, he always makes it obvious how much he loves me. His love is fierce and unwavering and always makes me feel like, no matter what, he would choose me first in a million other lifetimes. So, as we are approaching our four-year anniversary, I have penned a note of gratitude to the love of my life. Thanks for being you. Thank you for giving me a love I couldn’t live without. A love where you never say hello or goodbye without a kiss. A love where in five years I haven’t gone one single day without a "Good morning beautiful" text. A love where you will go and get me a snack at 9 p.m. because we’re out of popcorn and then stop on the way home to fill my car up with gas when you notice my tank is low. A love where you eat tofu for dinner because I tell you it’s better for you and then say nothing when I eat ten Starbursts later that night. A love where you say nothing as you restart a load of laundry that smells because I forgot it in the machine for two days. A love where you are never the first to let go in a hug because I read some article once that said 30-second hugs build comfort and trust. A love where you gently tell me to stop reading so many articles when I text you during the day to tell you that I’m definitely dying. A love where after almost four years of marriage I can’t tell if it’s gone by in the blink of an eye or I feel like I’ve known you a lifetime because somehow you’re both my comforting soulmate and the man who makes my heart race, all wrapped up in one. Sure, this isn’t a love that will spark an epic novel. It won’t go down in history as one of the world’s greatest romances. However, this is a love that will definitely be one the girls will always smile thinking about. It’s a love that will force them to set the highest standards for their own love. And it’s a love that’s shown me more happiness than I ever thought I could know. I love you. Thanks for choosing me.