When He Doesn’t Understand My Love

February 1, 2012

And I don’t understand his.

The other day I stood at the foot of my bed, folding clothes, making decisions.

We work together, parent together, sleep together.  And yet, in all our busy-ness, we weren’t communicating.

How do two people occupy the same space and not see each other?  What was my right to demand and what was his?  I knew what I was giving and I could, generally, communicate what I wanted.  But what did I need?

Love isn’t about meeting your own needs but about being available to meet the needs of the one who is the receptacle of your love.

I decided to die to myself.  To let go of my laundry list of requirements for what it meant to be loved.

It’s not an easy process, this dying.   I spent a few weeks withdrawing.  Going quiet.  Until the last, faint echoes of “Why can’t he see me dying!!!” faded into a quiet resignation.  And moments of reflection on the many good things, the multi-faceted blessings, the consistency of this man took their place.

I am intense.  When I love, I do so without reserve.  I am affectionate to those who hold my heart and I pursue them.  I engage them.  I overwhelm them, sometimes.

In my intensity, I can despise a love that is more gentle, tender.

On Sunday I stood again folding laundry and thinking.  My husband walked in.  Quiet.  Again. He’d noticed the change in me.  Didn’t know how to respond.  Thought I was angry.  Plotting his demise.

“I’m not mad at you, y’know.”  I said.

His raised eyebrows indicated he didn’t know if that was truth.

I began to talk of the thoughts which had filled my heart.  In an even tone.  Without histrionics.

And he listened.

“I don’t want behavior from you that is manipulated.  I don’t want you to do or be anything other than who you are.  I am struggling with our ‘new normal’ and how busy we’ve become, that’s true.  But  I am so thankful for you and all you are doing for our family and just for the amazing person I get to be married to that I can’t hold onto these unrealistic expectations.  Sure, I want you to do *insert list of desires here* and all those things would make me feel better.  But if those actions come from a place of pacifying me? They fall flat.  I want from you whatever it is that you want to give.  And I realize I need to learn your language.  Instead of always demanding that you learn mine.”

At first he couldn’t understand what I was saying.   I’ve always had expectations, clearly stated lines of what is and isn’t acceptable.  And then the light dawned.

I gave him the freedom, wholeheartedly, to work within his own frame.

A luminous moment in my good marriage.  A precious knitting of hearts.

I married a good man.  A kind man.  A man worthy of respect.  But still a man.   Flawed and in desperate need of grace.

Just as I am.

When the realization hit that I was truly committed to this change it was as though a load lifted from his shoulders.

My vision cleared.  My heart re-opened.

We continue on in this journey called marriage.  17 years and counting.

And half the time I still feel like I am scrambling in the dark.

But God…

  • Okay, very awesome new design, Heidi! Great words here, too, on learning to understand each other…what a wonderful, blessed journey.

    And there’s a new tab! I get to spill a few literary words, yay! I’ll be back to say a word or two about one of my favorite people.

  • Athor Pel

    “I gave him the freedom, wholeheartedly, to work within his own frame.”

    You didn’t give freedom. You stopped trying to take it.

  • Excellent distinction, Athor. I like that. It’s so much more accurate.