‘We gave each other a list of people we were allowed to marry if one of us died.’: Woman admits she threatened to ‘haunt’ husband if he ever remarried, now encourages him to ‘keep on living’

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“When we started dating, I felt crazy any time another girl smiled at him.

When we got engaged, we would stare longingly into one another’s eyes, and swear there was nobody on the whole entire planet that could ever make us feel the way we felt for one another.

Courtesy Mary Katherine Backstrom

When we got married, we said if we died, we would live the rest of our lives as single people. Because nobody could ever take one another’s place. Pretty sure I even threatened to haunt him if he remarried.

Oopsie. That was a tiny bit crazy.

Courtesy Mary Katherine Backstrom

This year, on our 13th anniversary, we jokingly gave one another a list of people we were allowed to marry in the event that one of us died. On my list, an old friend, one dead celebrity, and two historic figures. On his list, Emma Watson. We have high standards for one another, obviously.

But the funny thing is, the longer we live, the more those standards evolve.

I mean, 21 year old me would have fallen over dead at the very idea of another woman marrying the love of my life.

Courtesy Mary Katherine Backstrom

But 35 year old me worries how Ian would ever find his underwear or pay his student loans if something were to happen to me.

For goodness sake, this man needs a better half. And if that better half can’t be me, someone else is going to have to step up to the plate. (God bless her.)

I know it sounds strange.

But I love my husband more and more the longer we are together. And the longer I love him, the more I worry about his lifelong happiness—with or without me.

Courtesy Mary Katherine Backstrom

One of the scariest things about life is imagining the people you love moving on without you.

But the bravest loves I’ve ever known prepare for EXACTLY THAT MOMENT. When our loved ones have to live on without us.

I pray, as a parent, that I raise my children up in such a way that when I’ve left, they won’t feel lost. I don’t want them to need me when I’m gone.

Miss me, yes. Need me, no.

I pray, as a wife, that I love and support my husband in such a way that he is confident and secure in who he is as a man. That if I ever leave his side, he won’t flounder around wondering who he is without me. He will already know.

Miss me, honey. But keep on living.

I pray that I love my friends with such a wild and wonderful love that they can only laugh when they sit down to reminisce about our times together.

Miss me, yes. But celebrate the time we had. None of that sad and sappy stuff.

I know it’s morbid to think about these things. But man, isn’t life just a vapor?

I can’t change that fact, as hard as I’ve tried. Death will come for us all.

But my greatest hope is that my life will be lived in such a way that when I’m gone, there will only be joy and laughter to fill my void.

There will be no promises unkept. No precious moments squandered. No grudges unamended.

Lord, let me live a life that leaves my loved ones filled to the brim with love. I want to leave their cups so dang overflowing with love that they have to keep on keeping on.

Just to share the overflow.”

Courtesy Mary Katherine Backstrom

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. Mary’s book Mom Babble: The Messy Truth about Motherhood is available here. Follow Mary on Instagram here.  Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

Read more from Mary here: 

‘Some children are just born feral. If a know-it-all wants to tell you otherwise, go find them a drunk and hungry hyena. Shove it into some Doc McStuffins pull-ups and drop it off at their house.’

‘This week in preschool, my son was teased for wanting to play with a baby doll. I repeat: he was teased. By 4-YEAR-OLDS.’

‘Even when we fuss about how ‘chubby’ we look in. Even if we moan the angle isn’t good, I promise you this: We want to be seen. We want to be remembered. And it means the world to us, when you take our picture.’

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