Sarah Smiley: In defense of not-so-smooth husbands

This weekend I danced in the local Dancing for the Stars charity event. My husband, who was in the audience with my three sons, didn't bring flowers, and it sort of made me fall in love with him all over again. No, you didn't read that incorrectly.

This weekend I danced in the local Dancing for the Stars charity event. My husband, who was in the audience with my three sons, didn’t bring flowers, and it sort of made me fall in love with him all over again. No, you didn’t read that incorrectly.

Dustin also forgot to take any pictures or get video—in fact, he arrived with a phone on zero-percent – and those blunders gave me less of the warm fuzzies. But the flowers – well, good move, Dustin.

Believe it or not, this wasn’t the first time my husband has made a mistake. Back when we were dating, we lived three hours apart and alternated turns driving for weekend visits. One time, when Dustin showed up on my doorstep after such a trek, I wrapped my arms around him and asked sweetly, “What were you thinking about while you were driving?” (Side note: Why do we ask these things, especially when we’ve never particularly liked the answer?)

Dustin, with his bags still at his side, did not hesitate before he said, “I was thinking about how big your head is.”

At first I thought he meant figuratively, as in, my ego. Dustin immediately realized that’s how it had sounded. So he tried to backtrack:

“I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean it literally. Your physical head is very large.”

I backed away from him.

“But I like that about you,” he said. “I was driving and thinking how much I like your big head – your actual, physically large head.”

At least he is honest. Oh, and he didn’t have flowers that day either.

More recently, while Dustin and I attended a weeklong workshop for military couples whose spouses are about to have command, Dustin made some unusual lunchtime plans that got him into trouble. The syllabus specified that this one particular day’s “free lunch hour” offered the perfect opportunity for couples to be tourists together in the city and take advantage of a meal without kids in tow. I could not wait. I heard the other wives talking about their plans, and I wondered what surprise Dustin had for me.

Then we met in the hall. My face on my unusually big head was all like, “I’m so happy to see you and to go have lunch together.” Dustin’s was all like— Oh, never mind. I’ve quit guessing what Dustin is thinking.

“I have a great idea for our lunch,” he said. “There’s this workshop in the next room that will cover work-life balance. They are offering sandwiches, too.”

I followed because my husband’s smile is really cute, even when his ideas are not. Imagine the irony: The Navy eating away at our “alone time” to preach to us about work-life balance. I was the only wife in the room who had fallen for the trap, and I wasn’t impressed. So I took my Wonder Bread ham sandwich and left in a huff. Dustin, unsure how to balance work- and home-life-responsibilities stayed behind to figure it out at the ill-timed workshop.

When we met up later, he said, “I wish you had stayed. You really could have taught them some things with your insight.”

Okay, so he missed the part where my deliberate and noisy exit was actually my way of imparting my “insight,” but, wow, he never stops believing in me.

There are hundreds more of these stories, and I’ve written about many of them over the years. Does anyone remember the time Dustin gave me only a Home Depot gift card for Christmas? Or the time he took our boys to the wrong restaurant for their birthday party? How about the time he nearly fell off the roof in his pajama pants and snow boots because I was worried about ice dams at 10 o’clock at night?

This weekend, I had thought about telling Dustin not to worry about bringing flowers to the dancing event. How confused he would have been if I had, because the idea had never even occurred to him.

As I peered down at him from the backstage upper-balcony, I couldn’t stop smiling. There he was, my husband, with no flowers in his arms.

So why did I fall in love all over again? Because being smooth, bringing flowers and saying all the right things at the right time is the easy part. Anyone can learn to do that. (Although, Dustin’s dopey insistence that he carries flowers for me “in his heart” was both well-timed and completely adorable.)

What Dustin does on a regular basis is the heavy lifting: helping me, believing in me, and, most important, being there front and center, the ever-familiar, adoring face of Dustin, who is at times naive and a bit too honest, but always rock-solid dependable, hard-working and in love with me. Plus, he’s wicked funny.

How could I not feel lucky and thankful for him?