The Love They Have to Give

I have spent too much time in my marriage seeking the love that I thought I wanted, rather than accepting the love my wife was giving. This has been made especially difficult given that I grew up believing in the wrong message–that marriage is about finding the perfect spouse and being in love would always mean experiencing a blissful union. Wow. Was I not prepared for reality.

Marriage is about enduring

The truth is, my marriage has been more about letting go and enduring, than blissful moments. Not that there hasn’t been bliss. There are moments I recall distinctly when we have experienced it: Witnessing the birth of our three children. A particular dinner we shared at one of our favorite restaurants celebrating the start of my business. Huddling next to each other under cold sheets, amazed at the softness of her skin. These, and many more.

The challenge has been, however, that all of these are overshadowed by the imaginary image I thought marriage would be, and worse, the blame I put on either myself or my wife over the inability for us to achieve it. It wasn’t until I became so tired of trying to achieve something that was unachievable, that the truth of our marriage emerged. I was ready to see that the love my wife has to give has always been there. Waiting.

My wife is not demonstrative like I am. Thank God. She shows her love in the small things. Like the sweater she bought for me this week. The dinner she cooked last night. The thousands of meals she has prepared for our family. The flannel pajamas she sewed when the kids were little; the Halloween costumes she made from scratch; the house she painted all by herself with a 5 inch brush; and on, and on, and on.

The love my wife has to give has always been there. We just had to outlast the imaginary image, suffering the indignities of unmet expectations along the way until we learned to appreciate what we had to offer each other. And the strange thing is (I can’t believe I am saying this…), I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. This is not to say I don’t have regrets. I do…over things I have said and thought that were about me and the image. Even so, I just can’t imagine that I would have the appreciation for her, no, the deep respect for her if we hadn’t gone through what we did.

I shared this with her awhile back. “Honey, even if I didn’t love you, I have so much respect for you for staying with me all these years.” The response the image would have expected would be to have her jump in my arms and gush over the acknowledgment. She just looked at me with a wry grin and said, “You’re welcome.”

Now THAT is love!

All to say, when I am feeling particularly unloved in my marriage, I take the time to observe her in the small things she does for me and others. And when I recognize it, the question becomes, am I willing to accept it?

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