Was it after one date or three that my husband bought me a bouquet of tulips?
The morning my roommate saw them on my humble Ikea kitchen table, she said to me: “Good Morning, Mrs.’MyHusband’sLastName”.
You see, I had declared to the significant people in my life that when a man I was dating brought me tulips, I would marry him.
But I knew before those tulips too.
The first night I met him was the same night he asked me if I knew who wrote his name on the unit’s white board (his last name (and everyone else’s names) were purposely misspelled by the day obstetrics unit clerk in honour of Halloween). It was that night he began a conversation with me that would last almost twenty five years.
I went home that night shift and called my mom to tell her I met a medical student that made me feel like “I had come home,” “always known him,” “was the one,” or you fill-in-the-blank to a cheesy romantic idiom that accurately reflected my reality.
How would I direct my child to choose a spouse then? You aren’t going to find the perfect person, I’d say, though it certainly felt like it that Halloween night. And you’re not going to be the perfect person either. I might direct that conversation by suggesting that in the meantime they work on that part though: learn what makes you tick and learn a few relational tools. So you can learn before you need to use that stuff. Then you’ll be quicker to identify a right person to be with. And you’ll have a few tools under your belt before you learn that no matter what person you’ve chosen to be with, you’ll need those tools, cause there’s a lot of work to be done, two people to understand and a relationship to build.
Here’s some things I’ve learned about loving my husband:
Loving my husband isn’t loving me. Loving who he actually is takes concerted learning.
He thinks differently. Reacts to different things. He is logic-oriented, in his head thinking his deep thoughts, processing how things work, turning emotions off in high stress scenarios (which makes him useful in emergencies as an emerg doc). And he’s the kind of guy who wants fancy chess pieces for Christmas.
Loving my husband is speaking his love language and learning that I have to sometimes translate my love language.
I speak love with words, and he speaks love with actions, generally. We both have to learn each others’ language. So we have to give a voice to the moments where we aren’t understanding each other, which might result in conflict or confusion. But then we speak, we listen, we clarify, and we learn again. We need to learn what speaks connection at the deepest parts of each other.
Loving my husband means accepting who he is, not who I think he should be.
My natural giftings are not his, and his are not mine. This comes in super handy when raising a family, especially a homeschooling family. In certain areas, this is really hard for me though. And I am certain he’d say the same. But guaranteed, telling each other that we have to be different people than we actually are will serve neither of us. Gotta accept each other.
Loving my husband might not be about loving my husband at all.
Loving my husband might be about me in the world just loving. It might be about practicing the act of love. When we love someone, we are expressing kindness or warmth toward ourselves. When we are hurting someone, we are often not at peace with ourselves and it shows up. But this guy, he’s the one I’m practicing love with.
The tulips weren’t the end of our story.
We have the wistful-romantic story that has threaded through our marriage. And we have the painful, facing ourselves story that is also threaded through our marriage. And we have the best friend story that is definitely one of my favourite parts of our story.
And all the effort expended into this most valuable commitment has yielded so much good. So how could I not end this post by saying to him: “Thank you for being my love. For walking through this life with me, the struggles and the joys. I’m gonna love you forever and ever.” Amen.
I loved this post. It took me a long time to learn to love my husband. I still don’t do it as well as I’d like, but I keep learning and trying.
Beautifully written and so important. We’ve been at this for 17 years and it still takes work to love each other for who we really are and not who we think the other should be. I also appreciate what you said about it just being about practicing the act of love! We can so easily get small-minded and self-focused and forget about this ongoing practice. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you. In the most distressing/frustrating marriage moments, I have come to understand that this love thing, this long-term partnership thing, is all about a practice of loving. xx