One of the biggest problems we faced in our marriage, and the cause of its near destruction, stemmed from a fundamental miscommunication. I was sure that my husband had stopped liking me, and certainly didn’t love me. I didn’t feel at all loved by him. When we started couple’s counselling it came as a huge surprise to me to hear him say that he had always loved me and still did. At first I doubted the truth of his statement, but after several months of counselling both together and individually, I realised it was true. He had never stopped loving me. The problem was in the communication of that love.
It wasn’t as simple as love languages, although that played a part. I don’t think I had fully accepted myself as I am, and consequently he was trying to love the projection of me, not the real me. I’m a huge introvert but I think behaving in an extrovert way worked for me in my personal and professional life. I’m creative to a crazy degree but I spent years being convinced that I was nothing but pragmatic and cerebral. I’ve always said I’m not a sporty person, but what I’d failed to grasp was that I love having a strong and active body.
This week I realised the difference that that understanding of self has made to our marriage, and to my life.
I was wondering how it is that, in the midst of a rough time, I actually feel secure at my core. I don’t have the feelings of horrible awfulness that used to accompany similarly difficult times.
I don’t feel a gap. I don’t feel a space that needs to be filled by something – whether alcohol, food, frantic socializing or another person.
Life is reasonably challenging right now. I’m not able to work, as family circumstances and the ill health of one of our children mean that I need to be home all the time.
I stuggle with everything in that sentence.
I feel loved by my husband.
Through this horrible episode of infidelity in our marriage he has learned to love me in a way that I can feel.
This is huge. This is first time in 22 years together huge.
And you know what the secret to making me feel loved is?
He just lets me leave the mess.
The life, family, circumstantial mess.
He lets me leave it.
I just walk away.
He used to see my sadness, tiredness, overwhelmedness and he’d try to talk to me about it, or try to find ways to make it better, but now he knows that my need is to be let loose for a little while.
To walk away from the mess, which will still be there when I get back.
Often I don’t want to talk to anyone about anything.
I want to watch films, or read books, or listen to music, or look at art, that will connect with the emotions I’m feeling without me having to name any of them.
I want to use every part of my body to propel me up a steep hill on a bike so that I am totally present in the moment; my lungs gasping for air, my legs aching; the dirt beneath and the sky above.
He lets me leave the mess so that I can go and find those things.
It’s taken me a little while to accept that it’s ok for me to do that, but it is.
So I’m starting to walk away.
- Six weeks ago, for the first time, I left for a weekend of retreat. I spent a weekend alone whilst he stayed at home with the mess.
- Another night he arrived home from work and I kissed him and told him that I was going out to the cinema by myself. He didn’t even ask what I was going to see, just smiled.
- He encourages me to go bike riding with him early in the morning before the working day crashes in on us.
- If he sees me taking a book into the garden at night time, wrapped in blankets, he finds me a comfortable chair.
We are getting better at living in the mess
But we’ve learned that sometimes it’s just as important to walk (or ride) away
This post is linked with #wholemama