Recently I went to bed thinking about how much I’d like to be Hugh Jackman’s wife someday.
And I know what you’re thinking. Wouldn’t we all?
He is, after all, a Broadway star, half man, half wolf, 100 percent Australian dreamboat.
But that’s not what I’m talking about, though the man does look good in a suit.
To explain what I mean we must first make a short trip back in time. All the way to January 13, in fact.
January 13, 2013.
I was watching the Golden Globes that night, mostly for the hosting genius but also to see all the gorgeous dresses.
Right away I fell in love with Ann Hathaway’s sparkly white ensemble. And I was pleasantly surprised to discover that her unfortunate haircut had grown into a pretty cute pixie by then.
I also figured Tina had to be proud seeing one of her protégés strike it big in Les Mis (Mean Girl to It-Girl). And so, though I’ve yet to see the film, I didn’t mind that there were frequent camera pans to the table featuring the musical’s biggest names.
But each time they zoomed in I spotted one very unfamiliar face. A face that would have seemed just as fitting at a PTO meeting, or selecting tomatoes at a Tom Thumb, as it did at an awards gala.
Each time they showed her I was taken aback, trying to figure out who it could possibly be.
Director? Producer? Screenplay adapter? I couldn’t figure out who it was, or what she’d done so right to be sitting at Jackman’s right hand. But I knew she must be important.
And thankfully it didn’t take too long (relatively speaking) to find out how she scored such a place of honor.
When the good news was announced, that Jackman had won Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical, his initial reaction was to kiss that unidentified (ever-so-slightly matronly) blond by his side.
And when he took the stage to accept his award, speaking in that charming accent of his, he shed further light on the mystery guest - the one with the Fox newscaster haircut.
The woman I didn’t recognize, the one at a table filled with A-list actors… the one given kisses from the man of many women’s dreams…
Was Jackman’s wife. Of seventeen years.
Deborra-Lee Furness if you’re Google. Mrs. Jackman if you’re nasty.
(I sure hope at least one person gets this absurd reference.)
While it was somewhat (and very pleasantly) surprising that Jackman hasn’t traded in his devoted wife for a model-of-the-month club, like so many celebrities of his caliber do, it was far more astonishing to me what he had to say about her on that brightly-lit stage.
It’s pretty standard to thank a current romantic flame, sure, along with a whole bunch of industry execs no one’s heard of, maybe God or some higher power, the military and beer (if it’s a country music awards show).
Honorees looking for bonus points might also thank the fans, a deceased relative, or the other nominees in their category; those are always crowd pleasers. (Military personnel, hit or miss in that kind of crowd.)
But when given a microphone, Jackman did something pretty remarkable (especially for Tinseltown).
He dedicated a good chunk of the very small amount of time he was allotted to publicly thanking his wife.
You know, my mystery face. His right-hand woman.
Not only did he call her “the greatest woman in the world,” he said she was the one that convinced him to stick with Les Mis, even when it was really hard. She was frequently the one to talk him down from a ledge, he said.
And then, he chuckled, declared in front of the world that she was always right, and said “Babe, I love you.”
His dedication couldn’t have lasted more than a minute or two. Yet, by the time the music had played him off stage I had learned a great deal about Jackman’s better half:
She found ways to see him through his worst, while coaxing his best out of him.
She developed the ability to speak words of affirmation, but undoubtedly worked much harder at the difficult art of shutting up as needed.
And most of all, it was clear that at some point she must have count the costs, and chosen to go all in for and with the man she loved and loves still.
Because she believed in him. Because she wanted the best for him.
And because she knew the best thing would be giving him the freedom and space to chase his dreams.
In rewatching the speech as “research” for this post it’s even more clear to me how close their bond must be.
Because even before reaching the stage, during the quick exchange they shared when the good news was announced, you could see something special passing between their eyes.
And yes; Youtube kept getting stuck on that very spot.
But I think if you watch it for yourselves you’ll see I’m not just grasping at straws.
I think you too will notice what I did on the second and third and sixth replay.
While the other nominees looked out at the audience, or smiled sheepishly at the camera, Jackman’s immediate reaction was to look straight to his wife.
And when he did she was looking right back at him.
Both of them were beaming from ear to ear. At the nomination first. And then at the win.
I think what made that moment so special, one worth watching at least once more, and one actually worth dissecting (the way I do so many other foolish things) is that in that moment – that exchange – what you witness is two people sharing a victory together.
You see a couple experiencing the kind of multiplication of joy that only happens when you have committed to spend your life with someone, and then, even bigger, choose to stand by that commitment.
If you strip away the fancy gowns and the TV crews and tables filled with tabloid fodder, what you’ll catch in that moment, that speech, those stolen glances and kisses, is a person reaching a great pinnacle of success, genuinely wanting to share the credit – the achievement – with his spouse, of all people.
His partner. His champion. His plus one. His friend.
Please don’t get me wrong here.
I know. I know; no marriage is perfect.
Every couple goes through up and downs.
And I don’t want you to misunderstand me.
I’m not saying the Jackmans’ marriage is perfect, or that I want it, or that I want him.
(At least not anymore than the average woman does. Let’s be real.)
What I am saying, what I do want, is to learn to be a better system of support for my own husband, the one I’ve got.
My partner. My confidante. My friend.
I want to be a more tireless encourager, a more patient listener, and a more gumption-y pep talk giver for him.
‘Cause I know he needs those things. And I want to be a source of them. (Unlike every sitcom wife you've ever seen.)
I also want to be there to tell him not to give up, even when a dream seems impossible, or an obstacle insurmountable (or another trip to Guitar Center seems entirely unreasonable.)
And that’s not always easy, but I think it’s important.
I want to pick up the sweaty towel that was thrown in yesterday, wipe his brow with it and tell him to try again. (While somehow still managing to wash the thing at some point. Sweaty boy cooties – gross!)
Most of all, I want to do all this supporting out of love, not obligation.
Because my chips are all in, with the man I married. The one I love.
When I see my husband on the stage at the Grammy’s, or strapping on his guitar at his first sold-out concert…
Or accepting his Master’s Degree, autographing his first book, or holding our first child…
… I want to know that not only was I a part of that, but that I did everything in my power to make that moment happen.
What I learned while watching the Golden Globes is that I want to be my husband’s right-hand woman.
I want to do my best to help him accomplish his biggest dreams, the way Jackman’s wife obviously did for him.
I want to be my husband’s teammate. His faithful companion. His supporter and friend.
His newscaster haircut. His quick kisses after victory.
His beaming wifey, and his biggest fan.
*Thanks to the internet for letting me borrow/alter the image above.
And thank you to my hubby, for graciously approving this message.