Sex, Love, & Applesauce: I’ve Loved My Husband Selfishly

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Thankfully this was yoga, so shortly after feeling like the worst wife in the history or wives, I accepted what had happened and decided to change my outlook, and my conditional loving, in that moment. I didn’t even wait until the next day when I got home. I just made a mental shift (I know, easier said than done).

Of course, my husband, who was at home with our two kids, was not experiencing a magical simultaneous realization. He was in the muck, just as pre-occupied as I’ve been for the majority of the past four years. I may have changed in an instant, but our situation had not. So I waited until our next therapy session to inform him of my yoga-inspired, potentially life-changing mat moment, and I asked him to answer the same question that had led me out of the dark. How have you loved, husband of mine? How have you loved me?

His answer was less one-word and more soliloquy, filled with images and gesticulation and planetary references. It was not in the language I speak – not my “love language,” as they say (I kind of loathe this phrase, but it is accurate here). When the therapist asked me what I had just heard, my newly unselfish mind was not strong enough to overpower my still-smarting heart, which had boiled my husband’s passionate response down to the word “neutral.” Like, he didn’t regret marrying me but I wasn’t his most favorite person in the universe. It makes no sense to hear myself say it now, but it’s evidence of what happens when you start self-protecting for the wrong reasons. My heart was not open to my husband’s love anymore. Granted, it didn’t happen in a vacuum and he hadn’t exactly been striving to convince me of his adoration on a daily basis, but still – it certainly makes you pause.

How much love are you unwittingly blocking from your life because you think you know what’s going on in your partner’s mind, despite the fact that you haven’t actually talked openly about it in months? Odds are, you’ve both been injured by the other to some extent. It just happens. We react when we shouldn’t, we fight when we’re tired, we say things we don’t mean. That’s part of the deal. So every now and then you have to make an effort to slough off that tough skin you’ve developed and become vulnerable to your partner again.

It also helps to have an incredible therapist who took my husband’s words and put them into my language. She said, “close your eyes and open your heart to feel his words. Ryan just told you that he loves you with the power of a billion stars. Can you feel a billion stars flooding into your heart?” And in that very moment, I could. And I said, “Really? Is that true? I didn’t know…”

We stayed in that office long after our session had finished and talked about how far we’d drifted from one another and how painful it had been. I promised to place fewer expectations and restrictions on his parenting style. He promised to make more of an effort to tell me how awesome I am as a mom. And we pinky swore that we’d move forward with the understanding that we are still in love and must treat each other accordingly. Kiss more often. Hug longer. Be nice. Show our children how they should be loved someday. And when one of us inevitably forgets all of this, remind with care and compassion. We will do the necessary work every day to build our life into the loving existence we intended when we decided to be together forever.

(photo: Julia Ivantsova/ Shutterstock)

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