I am madly in love with my husband. Yup, the same one that not quite two years ago wanted a divorce. Who was that masked man? For that matter, who was I?
Things are so different now. He reaches for my hand when we’re out walking. He initiates hugs and cuddles. He actually touches me all the time, and I love it.
But I’m different, too. I make time for him. I used to think that I did, but really, I didn’t. We used to sleep in separate beds in separate rooms, seeing each other only at dinner or at lunch on the weekends. Now, “reading time” is inviolate and sacred. Movies stop, conversations stop, games are paused. When he’s ready for bed, I go lay down, too. We read, talk, discuss our day, plan the next day, remind each other of things that need to be done, and just connect. This is rarely a sexual thing, although connecting intellectually does lead to a better sex life (men, pay attention!!).
I have ridiculously insane insomnia, so I rarely stay in bed after he turns off the light. I will curl around him for a few minutes, then I get up and go back to whatever I was doing. I still manage to do all the stuff I want to do, but that twenty or thirty minute break makes all the difference in the world.
I wish I could say this is something that can fix any marriage, but anyone who says such things is full of crap. Some marriages just shouldn’t be saved. Habitual cheating? Nope. Untreated addictions? No way. Name on Ashley Madison hacked list? You’re outta here. Abuse of any kind? I’m so gone, you won’t even have time to blink.
But when it’s something as simple as, “We just don’t have anything in common anymore,” I think that can be fixed. C’mon, there are couples out there who are on opposite sides of the political and religious fences, and they manage to make it work. He leaves the seat up and you’re tired of asking him to put it down? I’m willing to bet that with a little bit of commitment on both parts, he can get over that. He thinks you nag about doing the dishes? Just out of curiosity, what are all the things he does that you don’t and that he doesn’t nag you about? The yard work? Car maintenance? Working every day?
I’m the LEAST gender role specific person you’ll likely ever meet, so please forgive my gender normative examples. Change pronouns, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, while there are things that you “always” have to do, there are things that your partner “always” has to do, too. If there aren’t, then that’s a different issue entirely. My point is, none of that stuff matters. IT DOESN’T MATTER.
What does matter is mutual respect. But before you demand it, you have to give it, first. Yup, be the bigger person. GIVE your partner all the benefit of all the doubts. None of this, “Well they don’t do that for ME, so why should I do it for them?” Do it for them anyway. People respond to love, respect, and attention.
While I dislike the “love is a flower” metaphor, relationships really are like flowers. You can stare at a wilting daisy and whine that if it’s not going to grow and bloom, you’re not going to water it. All you succeed in doing is killing the daisy. Relationships take faith. Faith that if you water it, it will bloom.
Water the flower. Weed it. Talk nicely to it. Watch it bloom. Then do it all over again.
Twenty minutes a day is free. It literally costs nothing to stop your life and pay attention to the person you’re sharing it with. You know what’s not free? Divorce attorneys. And you know what sucks more than spending time with someone you love? Dating weirdos you meet on the internet. Spend five minutes looking at Tinder profiles and you’ll be amazed at the level of commitment you’ll suddenly feel.
When you do something nice for someone, they usually want to do something nice back. Which will make you want to do something nice for them, etc. etc. etc… Spiral back up instead of spiraling down the, “they never” staircase.
Stop whining about what doesn’t happen and make something happen. You might be surprised.