12 lessons from loving my wife
Especially, seeing as yesterday was Valentine’s Day ❤
I love my wife.
And loving her has been an ongoing lesson in love and pain, life and death, and a rollercoaster that’s taken us through joy and sorrow and ecstasy and misery.
I first wrote this awhile ago, because I think by writing, and we were in a period when I realised I’d learned quite a bit, and needed to think about those lessons, and in defining them, own them more fully. I found it again recently, and decided to post it because it’s as relevant now as then.
In no particular order, here’s what I’ve learned.
- Love demands dying. Love includes loss. And when you have lost, and died, you gain. You live.
- Love will take everything you have. And when it’s taken it all, it will demand more. And you will give it still. But if you prove yourself worthy by holding on, you will find that it proves totally so worth it, you’d do it again if you get the chance. And you will. Get the chance, that is.
- If you find yourself attracted to someone who isn’t regular, don’t expect them to be regular. Don’t complain when they’re not regular in even the most (to you) basic things. (You asked for it, didn’t you?)
- Stand by your commitments. If you’ve committed to a person, don’t give up on them for flimsy reasons. But don’t stay there and suffer like some martyr either. If you decide to leave, then leave already. But not just because some other “better” person showed up. That kind of leaving often leads to regret.
- When your relationship is struggling, someone will show up who is everything the person you have committed to isn’t. Don’t fall for them. Here’s how you will know that they are a distraction: what your current relationship requires you to give up for it to work, will be offered to you in the alternative person without the messy giving up part. The problem is, every relationship demands giving something up, and so the giving up that confronts you in your current relationship is a mercy, for it confronts you at the outset. With the other person, it might not come up until later on, when the stakes are higher and the original person lost to you.
- Each love story is its own story. No two are the same. You can (and totally should) learn from the stories of others, but don’t expect to live their stories. You are not them. And the one you love is not theirs. You are you.
- Expect to fight for the person you love. And no, I don’t mean fight some other person. I mean, fight your own self: your self-centredness, selfishness, your natural inclinations, your defaulting to domination or docility. And no, you won’t need to go looking for the fight: it’ll surely come to you. When it comes, though, be sure to fight it, not the anyone else, and surely not the one you love. Embrace the fight: it’s a gift, a chance to earn trust. If you find a lover who isn’t trusted by their lover you’ve probably found someone who shirked their fight.
- Weirdness is not wrong, nor is it wickedness. Weirdness is just that: weirdness. The person you love will be very different from you, in how they think and feel and act. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them or that they hate you or mean you ill. All it means is that you haven’t met someone like them before. And now you have. Deal with it.
- Learn the person you love. You are not in love with women, but with this particular woman. You aren’t in love with men, but this singular man. Learn them. If it helps, think of them as an actual course. A course that you will fail if you don’t set about to deliberately learn.
- Read books. Read about the stories of other people who have loved. Read about what they’ve learned. And when you’re done reading, remember that your love story is its own story. Then read some more.
- Did I mention that loving will kill you? Did I mention that it will give you new life?
- Oh, one more thing: think a lot about the kind of people you’re attracted to. If they are not the kind of people you would like to marry, think again. Either you are attracted to the wrong kind of people, or you want to marry the wrong kind of person for you. And either way, you need to reexamine your values. Because who (or what) you find attractive (and not what you think in your head) tells what you value.
Bonus lesson (not in the original, but it’s sometimes come up when I’ve been counselling people): If you’re wondering why I say nothing here of my wife’s loving me, it’s because one of the things I’ve learned is, as Greg Smalley says, perhaps the most unhelpful question people ask about relationships and marriages is, ‘How can I have a better relationship?’ The problem with that question is, the answer you end with is almost certainly going to be something for the other person to do, and you aren’t in control of them. A better question by far is, “What can I do to be a better husband, or wife?”
That said, my wife does love me dearly, a fact for which I’m very grateful. ❤️
If you liked this, check out this other post on love: