The Bright Side of Life

Just when I think things are going well, it turns out they’re not. I hate this inconsistent roller coaster of emotions. Yesterday was one of those days where I just wanted to call it and be done. But I won’t. Marriage is about commitment, and I am committed. Or maybe I should be committed? Not sure.

Dinner has been ready every week night by the time Ron gets home. The dishes are done before bed. The dishwasher is unloaded every day. Our bed is made every morning. All the laundry gets done by Friday afternoons so Ron has the weekend free to do other stuff. In other words, he’s getting all he asked for. He’s definitely less stressed, but he’s still not happy.

Last night, we had a long talk about where our relationship is going, what are our boundaries, what we each want and don’t want. Ron spent his formative teenage years being raised by his dad in a somewhat emotionally bereft home. There were no hugs, no “I love you” as he walked out the door, and no example of what a good marriage is. While I certainly didn’t have a good example in my parents, I had plenty outside my home; as I’ve gotten older, I have friends with good marriages who have still had tough times but have seen it through. Best of all examples though, is having been married twice before. I realize what is good, what is bad, what stays, what goes, and above all else, I know that wherever I go, there I am. In other words, I recognize what is my issue vs. what is a marital issue.

But Ron doesn’t have that. He said that, “It was fun at first, but then that went away.” I laughed (I couldn’t help it) and explained that of course the fun went away; that the falling in love feeling only lasts for a while. He also said he loved me as a friend; I said I love him as a friend, too; that as marriage goes along, friendship is what we’re left with and what gets us through. I don’t think I’m just being stubborn. We have the same values, our politics are similar although I’m more passionate, we support each other, we respect each other, and most importantly, we make each other laugh. For me, that’s worth fighting for. We balance each other out in that he keeps me grounded and I keep him human.

My ex-husband used to tell me to stop focusing on making the right decision and focus instead on making my decision right. In other words, once you make your choice, learn to live with it. So I see the bright side of things. Goodness, if I didn’t see the positive, I would never have escaped my childhood. However, Ron sees the negative of everything. It’s all he ever thinks about. Things will NEVER work, things will NEVER change, he will NEVER get a new job, I will NEVER keep the house clean…so much NEVER and not enough MAYBE.

So I asked him to engage in a small experiment before we really call it quits. He said it seemed like too much, so I said we’d start with something really simple. He does enjoy kissing, so I asked him to kiss me goodnight and goodbye every day for the next two weeks, and that we wouldn’t talk about our relationship at all during these two weeks. He didn’t understand what I meant, so I kissed him the way I want to be kissed, just to make sure he had the idea.

Two kisses and a whole lot of under cover time later, he saw the possibilities in my request. Of course, I know the science behind it: kissing and cuddling releases oxytocin, which is a neuromodulator that is responsible for pair bonding. In other words, kissing someone makes you feel closer to that person. Touching also releases oxytocin, so this morning when I heard his alarm go off, I snuggled close and rubbed his back (under his shirt) for a good while. He ended up late to work, but I got one hell of a goodbye kiss. After twelve hours, I thought we were on to a successful start.

Can we kiss our way back to him being in love? No, it’s going to take more than that. But it’s a simple start, easy enough to do, and doesn’t cost anything, all requirements for an effort from Ron. We still have other things to work on, particularly communication, but other than communication, they are generally superficial things…the house, the laundry, the dishes, the bills, the debt. I can effect a change in him simply by doing my part in those areas.

Being in love is really just a decision made every day to be in love. Being married is just a decision made every day to stay married. Can he make that decision? I don’t know. But last night and this morning definitely give me a LOT of hope, and that’s better than not having any hope at all.

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