Courtesy of Sabrina Joy Stevens

Things My Partner Did That Proved Our Relationship Would Make It

After being friends with my now-husband for a couple of years, I wasn't quite sure where our relationship were going until, a week or two after we started dating, a large-ish package arrived on his doorstep. “Open it,” he said. It turned out to be a juicer — the same model I had bought myself a year earlier. He knew I liked to juice every morning, so he thought I’d like to juice when I was at his place, too. It was among the first of many little things my partner did that strengthened our relationship, and let me know that being with him would be a good choice.

I was amazed that he'd even noticed I had a juicer in my kitchen, let alone what make and model it was. There are tons of different ones on the market, and it wasn't like he'd spent so much time there (my apartment was way less conveniently located to where we worked and hung out than his was, at the time) that he’d had any reason to notice. The fact that he did, and realized how important that little morning ritual was to me, showed me that he cared enough to pay attention to even small things that mattered to me. Essentially, he let me know that he was serious about making room for me in his life, beyond just hanging out and having fun together.

While we eventually started doing big things together, like make people, get married, and buy a house, it was — and still is — all the little things my husband does that let me know I made the right choice in deciding to create a family with him. Little things like the following help make our life together work, and make the toughest parts of being a new mom and stepmom feel way more manageable, not to mention fun.

He Makes Me Laugh

The first time we ever went out together — “light bites and drinks at this bar I know” — we ended up closing the place after laughing together for something like five hours straight. When life gets tough (which happens a fair amount when you're raising kids), little moments of well-timed humor to lighten things up can make a world of difference.

He Knows When To Step Up And Step Back

There are some moments where one co-parent absolutely needs to take their cue from the other parent, instead of being an equal partner or running the show. When it came to decisions concerning my body, like where and how to give birth or whether to breastfeed, he immediately let me know that he'd be there to support me no matter what I decided.

At other times, like immediately after giving birth when I was totally overwhelmed with establishing nursing and recovering from childbirth, he stepped up and make sure everything else in our lives were taken care of, so I could focus on healing and keeping our son alive.

He Remembers Random Ideas I Have, Then Surprises Me With Them

One of my favorite things about my partner is that he's always looking for ways to surprise me and ways to make our family’s life, simultaneously. A little while ago, I was frustrated by the visible wires and accessories near our living room entertainment center, so he rearranged it all one day while I was sleeping to make it neater. Another time, he figured out a clever way to store our extra dining room chairs in our teeny tiny garage, because I casually griped about being sick of letting them stay in the corners of the room.

He Pays Attention To Small Details So He Can Be Helpful

In the early days of breastfeeding, my partner would pay attention to when I started nursing our son so he could make sure I had water, a snack, and my phone nearby, and could get my cold packs ASAP after he unlatched. It was awesome (especially when I was exhausted and frustrated) to not have to ask for, or even think of, things like that.

He Was Attentive During Our Birthing Classes

While our son is my first biological child, he's my husband's second — he'd been a birth partner once before. If he were a different kind of dad and partner, he might’ve been smug about his experience and checked out during our childbirth classes. But he knew this mattered to me, so he took it seriously and brought his A-game to every class. That meant the world to me (and he ended up being a stellar birth partner).

He Basically Refused To Leave When I Was In Labor

Sure, I was doing the hard part; it shouldn't be remarkable for a dad to support his partner as she labors with a child he helped create. But the fact that he was completely tuned in and attentive during labor, even when I wasn't directly asking him to do anything, let me know that our family will always be his first priority, even when whatever is going on isn't directly about him.

He Anticipated My Pregnancy Cravings

After a certain point in my pregnancy, my cravings started to follow patterns. Even before I noticed the patterns, he did, and helped accordingly. (Midnight bacon and pancakes FTW!)

He’d Have My Favorite Foods Ready When I Got Home From Difficult, Work Related Travel Days

I used to travel between New York and Washington D.C. for work, sometimes all within the same day. That was tough while I was pregnant, but it was a lot easier when I'd have my favorite fresh juice and a nice, light dinner ready the minute I got home, super late, from spending a few hours groaning over the smells coming out of the Amtrak cafe car.

He Remembers Things About My Friends And Family

Early on in our friendship, I mentioned that my dad really enjoys grilling, and barbecue more generally. Later on, when we were planning to visit my parents for his birthday, he made some of his own bourbon barbecue sauce to bring as a gift. Remembering things about the people who matter to me let me know that he's listening, and that he considers what's important to me to be important to him.

He Listens And Pays Attention

This really ought to be a given, but it isn't necessarily — and it's worth commending and being grateful for even when it's the norm. All of the things my partner does for me and our family are a result of him listening and paying attention. Even when I think he isn't, he's logging info away in his mind, so he can keep showing up and being an amazing partner whenever I need him.