I know you don't feel deserving of his love and admiration. I mean, you wipe butts for a living and still need to lose 15 lbs. from that last baby. But he does love you and somehow still thinks you're beautiful - and you love him all the more for it.
You love him.
So tell him.
He can't read between the lines; get inside your mind. You know this, so why do you expect this?
Sure he already knows it, but it is still important to voice. Don't fool yourself into thinking since he's a man, he doesn't really need to hear it.
I know you want him to say it first, but that's not the way this works.
Tell him that you love him. Not the "I love you" that is tossed around each morning before work, while saying goodbyes on the phone, or whispered before bed. While those are important and good, today he needs to hear more; you need to say more.
Tell him that you love him. Don't be afraid to be the one to initiate. Say it and mean it, backed up with all the reasons why. Face him, look him in the eye, and tell him that you love him. Feel its weight, its meaning, its significance on the tip of your tongue and deep in your core. Feel everything that's been tucked and hidden away by pregnancy, spit up, diaper bags and car seats. Feel the ache and the swell. Feel all the things.
I know you want him to say it first, to reassure you of his love, and then you'll feel like the stage is properly set for you to express your love and all its intricate parts. Maybe if he starts it, you won't feel so exposed, you wouldn't have to fear being rejected or worry about him feeling like it's coming from left field. You want it one for one, a compliment for a compliment - but sweetheart, that's not the way this works.
You've been married for five years. You've done the "in sickness and in health," the "for rich or for poor," journeyed through the grief of losing those closest to you and the miracle of bringing new life into the world. You've had two children with the man for goodness sakes! He knows everything about you, inside and out, and there's no one that has seen you like he has and continued to accept and love you.
If there is anyone you should able to be vulnerable with, it is your husband. He has proven worthy of it over and over and over again.
Tell him that you love him. Don't let your fear or stubbornness stop you. Don't believe the lies that he doesn't need to hear it. Or that he already knows or that it doesn't really matter. Or that he will take it lightly and not reciprocate. It matters. It's important. It's necessary.
Tell him that you love him and tell him all the reasons why. Tell him and expect nothing in return. Tell him how he's the best father you could ask for your children and how you love how he walks like an alligator at the command of your two-year old. Tell him how you love how he talks in such a sweet voice to your daughter, tickling her gently and waiting with baited breath for a giggle. Tell him how you love that he shovels the walk every time it snows and how he figures out how to fix the dishwasher, even when he'd rather be watching ESPN.Tell him that you know he works hard all day and that you believe he wishes he could be home with the family sooner, that you know and love that he is doing his best to provide for the family, day in and day out. Tell him that you respect him and think he is funny and handsome and how you hope both your children end up with his eyes and smile.
Tell him that you are proud to be his wife and the mother of his children.
Tell him that you love him. Tell him today.
Let him be loved and know all the ways he is.
Tell him that you love him.
* If there is any question, this is written to me - although I hope if you are the same way I can be, that you can find encouragement from it.