“You’re just like her.” Did he really just say that? Did he really just tell his wife that she was like her? The elephant in the room? The unspoken piece that kept her heart away from his? Yes, as he looked at her, laughing, she realized he did indeed just say that…out loud…to her. She had a choice to make. She could laugh along with him. She could become angry and explode. Or she could be quiet and listen. The choice was hers to make — to choose love or choose indifference. She chose to speak, quietly, “That really hurt and it’s really not nice to do that to me.” And then chose to quietly let it go. And in choosing that, she chose love.
The husband has a side to our love story that has not been told. I do not have permission to share it, even though it would make my behavior over the last 20 years make a LOT more sense. But this blog has never been about sharing what is not mine to share. I have mentioned/implied that I was not my husband’s first love, something obvious considering how old he was when we married. It affected him, and inadvertently me, in a very bad way. The husband was, more or less, the first one I ever allowed myself to love beyond a school-girl level crush. Realizing what he had experienced before me was really hard to take. Unfortunately he did not take protecting my heart as his job and shared WAY more than he should have about his experiences. It fed into my insecurities and jealousy and put a wedge between him and I that I’ve not been willing to remove. Until recently.
When my husband used to tell me he loved me, I didn’t believe him. I believed he “settled” for me after losing his “true love”. I may have married the man, but in my mind, she still had his heart. I knew that the husband could love me…but I would never be his heart or true love. (I’m quite certain a lot of my screwed-up thinking was from all the stupid romance books I devoured as a teen). Because I would never get his heart, he would not get mine. And that thinking permeated our relationship until Abba intervened and turned our lives upside down.
It’s not easy to believe love is supposed to be a romantic fairy tale and wake up to find love is anything but a fairy tale. It’s not easy to wrestle with feelings of jealousy when you see his high school pictures, recognize the look in his eyes and know it has absolutely nothing to do with you. It not easy to realize that you’re even jealous in the first place. Jealousy is a nasty emotion that unchecked can destroy everything in its path.
I faced this jealousy 20 years ago. When he shared the first time. I didn’t know what to do with the emotions, so I ran from them. Stuffed them down inside. Tried to pretend they didn’t exist. So they harbored inside and they fed me a lie that said I’d never be loved by my husband. Not like that. Not in this lifetime. So when he started teasing me again, about that, he opened a wound and all those feelings came bubbling to the surface.
I kept telling myself, even as the wound continued to be poked, I choose love. We talked, and he shared and I began to understand his behavior over the last 20 years. And the wound kept bleeding and hurting and I began to weaken from the pain. But this time, I am not weak and I am not young and I am not insecure in who I am and who my Abba is. So I reached out to some friends who helped me to pray, to gain perspective and strongly demanded encouraged me to put boundaries in my life. I finally realized that neither of us could ever heal if we kept continually opening that wound.
When we talk about our relationship we tell people we married in 2014. Although we never divorced, we never quite connected in the first place so it’s pretty accurate. We drive our kids crazy with our numerous dates, sneaking away for kisses, smiling at one another and then giggling, you know…all the crazy shenanigans people do when they fall in love. We’ve discovered that drives are our favorite thing , especially if it means we get to kiss when we stop at light. It’s fun and intoxicating. We never did this stuff when we were dating…even when we were married and had permission to finally act like we knew one another. So it really wasn’t a surprise to me that *this* issue would work it’s way loose and cause us both to face it.
We made several trips to the coast for our job. Two hours alone, driving, we started talking. Recently we were talking about the difference between then and now. I was trying to convey what I felt when he brought up the past without actually telling him what I felt. It was frustrating. I recognized how afraid I was and decided to quit being afraid. So I chose bluntness. And then bit my tongue. And waited.
I know that when I shut up and listen, he’ll talk. So he began to talk. His honesty was not easy to handle. But I chose to ignore what I was feeling and just listen to what he was saying. And somehow between his fear and my fear and almost too much honesty, we managed to see each other. Properly. Then he made a comment that has stuck in my brain. “You only get one shot at love.” It made me sad and happy at the same time. He said so much and didn’t say anything at all.
I feel like Abba healed our relationship, but he’s working on something deeper. There’s a spiritual bond that is being created between his soul and mine. One that Abba designed when he said “They two shall be one flesh.” One that we have both been afraid of since the beginning. And as my husband said, “You get one shot at love.” I refused to let myself say, “Don’t screw it up.”
This time, there’s no fear in love. There’s no doubt. There’s no hiding. There’s no running. There’s only one soul calling to the depths of another soul, submitting to the wisdom and power of the one who decided they should be joined together.
That’s a better love story than any romance book I ever read.