My Husband Doesn't Love Me Enough
Ross and I are quickly approaching our 3 year anniversary of marriage, which means that I've been obsessed with him for roughly 11 years now. I remember telling my best friend Natalie that I was in love with Ross at just 15 years old, before we were even officially dating - because it had to be "official" in high school to take you out of the dreaded "talking" phase. All the Millennials out there know what I mean.
Regardless, after nearly 3 years of sharing our lives, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in our relationship this year has come down to the feeling of being loved, or lack thereof. You see, we each experience a million tiny joys and disappointments throughout our days, sometimes in a disproportionate amount. When the alarm clock sounds at the crack of dawn, it's a guessing game of who's week will hold more stress or success. In turn, when we come home at the end of a tumultuous day, we begin looking to our spouse to satisfy any of the needs that our day did not. And when they don't automatically greet us by singing our praises, cooking dinner, and rubbing our feet, we begin to buy into the lie that
my spouse doesn't love me enough.
What's interesting is that I never consciously think this about Ross. I know he adores me, and he's still my favorite person in the world, despite his inability to move the dirty clothes from the bathroom floor to the nearest hamper. Instead, the feeling of "not enough" manifests when I let all of my expectations ride on whether or not he has the ability to ignore his own feelings in pursuit of healing mine. Before we even interact with our significant other, we begin to write a story that puts them in the role where every problem that we couldn't manage throughout the day suddenly becomes their fault for not having the foresight to swoop in and solve our mess.
We've all bought into the idea that home is a safe place, one where we can be vulnerable, raw, and sometimes, insensitive. It's ridiculous to expect another person to be able to shoulder the weight of their own burdens and ours, but we make ridiculous assumptions every day by not stopping to consider their feelings before we settle into a position of discontent. In this way, we create a toxic environment before dinner is even on the table.
When I cast my husband in the role of fixer, rather than partner, unmet expectations illuminate all of the negative and cause me to forsake the empathy that marriage demands.
How do we combat this? The answer is simple, but the implementation takes sacrifice. We have to ask before we assume. We have to reconcile the fact that our spouses were not designed to complete us but to complement us.
As an adult, I look back on the love that I felt for my future husband as a kid and wonder how it could have been so naive, yet so honest. In some ways, I loved Ross better as a teenager than I do as an adult because I was willing to let go of my pride and expectations and put his feelings ahead of mine. Selfishness kills relationships every day, but it's exceptionally brutal on marriages, especially when we don't give a name to it. Every time I allow discontent in my life to morph into discontent in my marriage, I fail in my role of partner, as well.
This is exactly why marriage vows require a lifetime of commitment and so beautifully resemble the level of relationship and pursuit that God wants with us. I know that I daily miss the mark on loving well, but that's not an excuse to stop trying. And every time we get it right, the outcome is enough to cover a multitude of screw ups and missed moments. Even on my worst days, that promise is worth the "I'm sorry", the "I'll do better next time", and the chance to rewrite the narrative.