I sit here, unable to think of a title better suited to this post.
Over the last two weeks or so, in a couple different arenas, there has been talk about my husband and I. Some have questioned whether I ever loved my husband. Others ask what it was that made me fall in love with him. There’s talk of if I can possibly still love him or be in love with him.
Talk of love (and being in love) between a husband and a wife can take on many forms. It seems to depend on who is asking and who is answering, as well as the context of the question, the length and condition of the marriage and so on.
Do I love my husband? Unequivocally, yes.
Am I in love? No. It’s hard to admit that.
I met my husband and I was fascinated by him. He pursued and I resisted, unsure of what a relationship would be like with someone with a disability. Cautious because of the age difference and the fact that he was divorced.
My relationship with him was unlike other relationships I had. Looking back, perhaps I thought different was better.
Here’s something I wrote to a friend shortly after he asked me to marry him:
He is an exceptional man. He is kind and caring and considerate. He tries to make himself a better person and to better the people in his company. He loves me, unconditionally. He has embraced my family as his own, treating my sister and brother like the younger siblings he never had. He is intelligent, very able to keep up with me intellectually. He loves to read and learn. He enjoys children, he has this calm way of dealing with them that I admire. I honestly believe he will make a great father someday. I love him. We compliment each other and we are truly a good pair.
There are many things I am able to see now, after much thought and perspective. I see that I chose a man who was quiet and calm because the men I had loved who were passionate and emotional had failed me or left me or didn’t love me back. I know that I clung to his love because I needed to be loved that much. Even if he was wrong for me, he adored me. We all crave love. We all want to be needed and wanted and loved. To have the kind of love that great stories are built around.
We’re raised with these idealistic pictures of love. Fairy tales, movies, even my own parents marriage perpetuated the idea that you need an all consuming love. I didn’t think there was anyone else who would ever possibly love me as much as my husband did. In some ways, I think I still believe that. I know so many people waiting for love. Who would kill to be loved the way my husband loves me. I don’t doubt and never have doubted his love. I just know he’s unable to demonstrate that love, and that his version of love and mine aren’t the same. Is it fair to stay when maybe someone could love each of us the way we need to be loved? Is it a sacrifice I can make, to stay simply because he loves me?
I don’t know when I realized that I wasn’t in love with him. I could try to point out a time when things changed, but it was subtle.
When I was sick, I gave a lot of consideration to the idea that life is short. I saw how my husband had withdrawn, retreated, transformed into someone I hardly recognized. I realized that I was not okay living a life without affection, emotion, passion, or okay, lets face it, sex.
I know that “love bears all things” but I wonder if there’s only so much strain you can put on two people. Surely there are marriages who have endured things worse than we and come out stronger. Yet, we have only seen each obstacle damage our relationship.
I do love my husband. I love him and we were happy and in love once. Yes, the love I have now seems familiar and comfortable, it’s often mixed with feelings of obligation. But, I can still think of reasons to love him.
I love him because he picked me up off the bathroom floor when I hemorrhaged and lost the first pregnancy.
I love him because he helped me scramble when I was trying to start my business.
I love him because he brought my mom flowers, gave my dad a shot, threw the football with my cousins, remembered all the aunts and uncles by voice and name the first time they met. Because he took to my sister brother. Because his family is important to him.
I love him because he stopped me from breaking all our dishes the afternoon I found out our IVF was unsuccessful.
I love him because he took the job here in Nashville to try to make a better life.
I love him because has had most of the same friends for twenty, even thirty years.
I love him because even though he’s blind, he doesn’t let that dictate what he can and cannot do.
I love him because he came up with the idea of naming all the children embryos we lost and came up with a way to honor them.
I love him because he called our friend to get an oncologist recommendation when I was too frightened to speak.
So, when you ask why I haven’t just left, why I’m not divorced already? That’s why. Maybe I’m in love with memories. Maybe I’m afraid no one else will ever love me, much less the way my husband once did. Maybe I can’t say goodbye to a man who loved me through hell, even if I feel I’m living there now.
When is love not enough? Love doesn’t fix everything. Love may be all we need, but we need to be loved in return. Love is an action, not a statement. “They do not love that do not show their love.”
6 thoughts on “love”
Beautifully shared. I’m sorry for the pain you two are going through.
i feel for you…and i sometimes wonder why i am married…but maybe if you (me) step back and look at the big picture – like you are in your post – you will see “the bigger picture”…your husband sounds wonderful. No one is perfect. not you. not me…i know, i know, it is hard to believe…be we are not perfect. so if you want to be in love, then maybe cut him some slack and fall in love with him all over again…ya know…whenever i get in that crappy mood and just want to leave, i take a step back and look at the world and what else is available, then i take a look at what i have and wouldn’t change it…
That was indeed beautifully written. And it makes me feel that I know exactly how you feel because I was once married to a man that I greatly admired and respected and loved. And he loved me. But I wasn’t married to a man I was “in love” with and in the end, that made all the difference for me and that’s why I left him. After all has been said and done and we have gone our separate ways, he has remarried and had the child I was not able to give him. I was happy for him, truly so. And relieved that his heart that I broke was able to mend. His wife didn’t approve of our friendship and he honored her and no longer speak. I understand and respect that, but I do miss his friendship and sometimes I still wonder if I did the right thing by leaving. In the big picture, I think it was right but sometimes I get that nagging doubt. But I must let that go, because it doesn’t help me make the most of my life today.
Who knows what the future holds if you leave or if you stay? No one can tell you it’s easy or better either way.
Just so you know, I never doubted that you truly love your husband, only from what you’ve written I doubted the nature of that love. Presumptuous, yes. Because I had felt that you and I have been similar people in similar circumstances but at different times. My husband was my best friend and would have done anything to keep me but sadly he couldn’t change my heart.
From our emails I believe you know that I care about you and want for you to find some peace and joy in your life. I believe we have one life and it is precious.
Sorry, I babbled.
I read your blog, but this is the first time I’ve commented. First of all, I admire you unflinching honesty in all of your posts.
Second of all, while I can’t say I know exactly what you’re feeling, this post really struck something with me. I went through something a few years ago in a marriage I was in and having to come to the hard reality that while I loved my wife, I wasn’t necessarily in love with her. And then the process of trying to determine if we could fall in love again and how to work on that. The problem was that it takes two to make that work and she wasn’t willing to meet me halfway or even 99.9 percent of the way.
Please know that I am praying for you, as I can remember the struggle, the pain, the hurt and the questions.
It’s so much easier when you can say man, he’s a bastard. You don’t have that luxury. Your husband sounds like a wonderful human being.
Love rarely has anything to do with cheating.