This is How I Learned to Love My Husband Well

by | Jul 7, 2019 | Break Free From Relationship Anxiety, Relationships | 46 comments

It took me many years to learn how to love my husband well, and, of course, I’m still learning.

Like many people, I didn’t grow up witnessing a healthy model of true partnership. My parents, like all parents, did the best they could and they gave me many gifts, but I’m sure even they would agree that role-modeling a healthy and loving marriage wasn’t one of them. Coupled with growing up in a culture that transmits abysmally dysfunctional messages about what real love and real attraction are and aren’t, I reached adulthood quite clueless about how to love well.

But I learned, and as I tell my clients and course members every day, a healthy marriage doesn’t depend on knowing how to love well from the get-go. Rather, a good marriage depends on the willingness to learn how to love well over time. For the truth is that even if you grew up witnessing and absorbing a healthy marriage, learning how to love your partner is a brand new experience, one that you can’t practice ahead of time. There are no formulas for loving well. It’s not a 3-step process that you can learn from a book. While we can certainly glean many essential tools and mindsets from books and courses about how to love and how to work through conflict, because the unique dyad of the two of you has never existed before, the real art and skill of loving the person you’re with can only be learned with the person you’re with.

Even though my projections spewed out onto my husband from day one, another part of me also loved him from the beginning. But when the fear-flames licked my ankles then dragged me into the underworld of relationship anxiety, all kindness flew out the window. The man who had been my friend just the day before suddenly turned into my perceived enemy. Every unhealed wound, every ungrieved loss, every unhealthy belief about love born from the wounds of my heart that had been deeply hurt and betrayed sealed onto him in what, even at the time, I understood as projection. I would spend the next several months unraveling those projections, and the next several years learning how to love him well.

This is how I learned to love my husband well:

1. I learned to listen to his feedback. Sometimes he would offer feedback lovingly and sometimes, because of his own triggers, the delivery of the feedback wasn’t the most gentle. At some point, I realized that I can take in what my husband is saying about my behavior and at a later point, after the repair, I can make a request for a kinder delivery. This has been a learning process that has evolved over many, many years, and I’m still learning.

2. I read Sue Johnson‘s book Hold Me Tight and learned as much as possible about EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) couples counseling, including doing our own round of couples counseling several years ago. This was marriage-changing.

3. When I couldn’t see myself clearly, I would ask for feedback from friends. We all have blindspots – places of wound about ourselves that we can’t see (which is why they’re called blind spots). Our partner will reflect these places back to us and we can either take it in or we can push back and defend. I spent years and years pushing back and defending until it finally became clear that that wasn’t going to work anymore. I was hurting him, I was hurting us, and mostly I was hurting myself. When we remain committed to our defenses we remain stuck behind a very thick fortress. Bringing these blindspots to friends was essential to my eventual ability to see myself more clearly. Again, this is a work-in-progress.

4. I’ve been fiercely devoted to working through my fears and to softening the deeply engrained inter-generational patterns that have been handed down through the centuries that have blocked love. For me, this means practicing what I teach in terms of showing up for myself with a compassionate inner parent in my four realms of self: tending to my physical body, journaling every day, working with my dreams, entering the imaginal realm through poetry, prayer and creativity, working with a therapist, reading constantly, and spending time in nature.

There have been times when my tears have joined with the river that runs behind our home, when the grief of old and current pain cracked my heart open. When I didn’t tend to this grief, it would project onto my husband. The work in relationships is to name and harness these projections as best we can so that we can take full responsibility for our pain and heal at the root. Every time we do this, we heal a layer of the spiral and open more fully to love.

A few days ago I said to my husband, “I am the luckiest woman in the world.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because you’re my husband,” I replied.

To think I almost let him go. To think I almost turned from this beautiful man and the blessed life that we’ve created together. I breathe into the almost-ness of these thoughts and then orient back to gratitude for what is, which is this:

A man I love more than I can express.

A man who has taught me the true meaning of love.

A man who has stood by me when I have failed at love.

A man who is my rock, my partner, my co-parent, and co-creator in this life.

I am truly blessed.

And so are you. Real love awaits on the other side of your fears. The life that you’ve imagined – better than any Hollywood movie in its simplicity and goodness – lives on the other side of the projections. It takes real work, accurate information, effective tools, and patience, but as thousands of people have broken through the ceiling of their relationship anxiety, you can, too.

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46 Comments

  1. Oh wow ! Thank you so much Sheryl for this beautiful and personal post! Just beautiful.
    The part where u saying that you are the luckiest women in the world…it made me cry. I felt so much gratitude in my heart for my beautiful man. Just wow!
    I truly count my blessings finding your work over 3 y ago!
    I just wanna thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    Im not over other side quite yet..maybe ill never fully be because i know i will learn my all life. Me and my partner will grow and change and learn our all life.
    My dark days are over..the more time goes by and the more i put the work inmy love just shines through those fear walls!

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    • This is wonderful to hear, CT! I know you’ve worked hard on your relationship anxiety and it pays off!

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  2. This was right on time!!!!! I took your conscious weddings course and I am 6 days from my wedding day. Your comments on feedback were much needed. My new marriage requires a cross-country move and we were discussing movers. I asked for his help (which in my mind was to do it) and he gave me verbal feedback. I sent him some quotes and clearly had misunderstood him because he gave not the kindest feedback. I was just drawing within myself and begin to fear that every response would be this way, but I have to recognize it will not. I am working through my anxiety, but it has not been easy. I love the idea that you grow into loving your partner.

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    • I’m so glad it was helpful and timely, Kee Kee. It takes at least 10 years to deeply know someone, and longer than that to love them well. You have time!

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  3. THANK YOU FOR THAT PERSONAL AND TOUCHING POST <3 PERSONALLY, I AM ON THE VERGE OF TELLING MY HUSBAND I WANT A DIVORCE. WE BOTH HAVE OUR ISSUES, I KNOW. THE VERBAL HARSHNESS..I AM DONE WITH. I HAVE GUARDIANSHIP OF MY 5 YEAR GRANDDAUGTHER AND 3 YEAR OLD GRANDSON AND THEY ARE BEING AFFECTED BY THIS. THAT THIS IS THEIR EXAMPLE OF HOW A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE AND LITTLE PEOPLE..BREAKS MY HEART. HE WASNT LIKE THIS WHEN WE WERE VERY FIRST TOGETHER…WE GOT MARRIED WAY TOO FAST. HE GRADUALLY STARTED ACTING LIKE THIS AND I HONESTLY THINK THIS IS JUST WHO HE IS. HIS EX DIVORCED HIM FOR THE SAME THING. YET I WAVER…THIS IS NOT A KNEE JERK DECISION. IT'S TAKEN ME A FEW YEARS TO GET TO THIS POINT. I PRAY, MEDITATE, READ, PRAY, PRAY AND PRAY. THANK YOU FOR OPENING YOURSELF UP THE WAY YOU DO ON YOUR POSTS…IT'S BEAUTIFUL 😀

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    • Sending you prayers that you find your clarity and strength. It sounds like you will.

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      • Hi Sheryl,
        I felt after years of horrific relationships I got to a place where I was good alone and then god introduced the man I have prayed for. I have taken step mother hood on well stepmgirlfriend on since we aren’t quite married and everything was fine we are 2.5 years in there we’re some triggers that maybe I didn’t want to see and went along with making everything fine. 8 weeks ago we went on a trip I fell into a 2 week insomnia and crippling anxiety and depressing I also did an Ironman three months prior and had tons of job stress and was laid off from my 8 year job 8 months ago so lots to unpack. The anxiety had me spiriling to find meaning. I researched ever my aspect of my life and started to develop intrusive thoughts towards the one person I love. I gone back to church seeing a therapist but I did take a few webinars and I do have abandonment issues from parents divorce and fear of being left or not being a priority because my dad chose living thousands of miles away from us kids and during puberty. Im trying to let my wall
        Down and searching to be better. I have also just been so scared because I never felt this way earlier in our relationship. Any advice???

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        • It sounds like you’re suffering from classic relationship anxiety and you’ve come to the right place. I recommend starting with my book The Wisdom of Anxiety and then taking The Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course if that’s feasible.

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          • My thoughts are spinning and it all comes back to my relationship is he the right one am I settling am I capable am i worthy am I gay all those stupid thoughts the past two days I have researched and I just want to go back to feeling safe and confident he is my person

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  4. Can you explain a little bit the difference between “Your partner reflecting your blind-spots back to you” and when your partner is triggered and projecting on you? I don’t want to be in denial about my blind-spots, but I do have an issue with taking on too much what someone says about me, even when it doesn’t feel true for me.

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    • Great question. The more you know yourself and know your partner the more you’ll be able to discern between accurate feedback and projection. It’s a process, for sure!

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  5. I think we have to accept that sometimes, in the throes of relationship anxiety, or any deeply triggered state really- OUR delivery is often harsher or more desperate and thoughtless than we would like. Therefore, our partner’s reception of our words or actions comes too from a triggered state. We are, in our harshness and desperation, reflecting wildly off eachother, each coming from a place of fear/hurt/trauma etc. The best thing we can do for eachother is to take a moment to be in our bodies and feel whether we are about to be kind in our delivery, or whether we are lashing out to hurt or match our partner’s perceived slight in that moment.

    I find that when I take a pause in my moment of hurt to feel my feelings, identify where they are coming from and what has been activated, I am able to deliver what I have to say to my husband in a loving but firm way. We need to respect ourselves in this interaction, but also eachother.

    We are all imperfect and sometimes will get lost in the pain and respond accordingly, but an ideal situation is where both parties can see eachother’s perspective, pain, history and aim to get back to that place of love and oatmeal <3

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    • Very wise and thoughtful, Bliss. Thank you.

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  6. Thank you. Your words always bring healing to me.

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  7. This. This was my recent turning point. “I was hurting him, I was hurting us, and mostly I was hurting myself. When we remain committed to our defenses we remain stuck behind a very thick fortress. Bringing these blindspots to friends was essential to my eventual ability to see myself more clearly.”

    YES. My most honest friend who I have known 31 years called out my blind spot in a venting session. I received it with open arms because like you described above, I was hurting him, myself and our relationship. The hard part for me has been putting the defenses down and RISK having my fears become founded. And you know what? The opposite has been happening. He makes a request, I hear it with curiosity and receive it with ease and in turn stare fear in the face and whisper, “You’re safe with him. You’re safe here. Let go of the survival tactics of your childhood, Christy. It’s safe here.” And I exhale. And I feel the positive energy between us continue flowing unlike when my defenses would shoot up.

    There really is so much freedom, so much love and joy on the other side of fear. The work for me has been building the courage to trust it.

    This is one of my most relatable and favorite blogs of yours to date!

    Grateful,
    Christy

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    • Ah, I love this: “You’re safe with him. You’re safe here. Let go of the survival tactics of your childhood, Christy. It’s safe here.”

      That’s true medicine, and the words and work of a love-warrior. Thank you.

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  8. I appreciate the vulnerability of this post. It’s so true – that being in a relationship must be learned, and that there’s no one formula for making it work since every relationship involves two unique individuals with their own backgrounds, personalities, triggers, and fears. And in all likelihood, those triggers and fears will be very different from your own, and will even rub up against each other.

    It’s a learning process, and I think that message is a much healthier one than what most engaged people are told/expect from marriage. It’s not about being in a perfect relationship, or having a great relationship model growing up. It’s about two imperfect people who commit to learning to love their beautiful, unique, but flawed partner.

    It reminds me of Rilke’s quote on learning to love, and for us “to become world for ourselves for another’s sake” – which I think I’m going to read at my wedding, by the way 😉

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    • One of my all-time favorite quotes, and such a beautiful one to read at a wedding.

      “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation…Love is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.”

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  9. Hi Sheryl,
    Thank you again for such a poignant and enlightening post.
    Could you provide an example of one’s partner reflecting one’s blind spots and letting it in/defending in response?
    Thank you so much!

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    • Sure. So let’s say my husband says to me, “You’re being condescending” (which I’ve been known to be with him ;)). I can defend against it by saying, “No I wasn’t. I was just offering a suggestion.” Or I can take it in, which usually means sitting with it, seeing it from his perspective, and then realizing that he’s right. If I really can’t see what he’s saying because my blind spot is so big, sometimes I’ll ask my kids if they thought I was being condescending. They both have a good ear for “tone” and they always set me straight!

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      • Oooh, yes, that helps so much – thank you. I am realizing after several years of marriage that I defend a LOT. It’s my go-to mechanism. So, I need to internalize this as much as possible, at least to be more present and aware, receptive to feedback.
        Thank you!

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  10. Thank you so much for these insights. I do agree so much with « real love is the willingness to learn how to love ». It is so soothing to know that when it gets hard to love, because of anxiety or projection… but I was wondering : how do you communicate that with your partner ? For example, these days, I would feel very sad and frustrated (probably just as it happens sometimes to feel pain). But as soon as a very intense and hard emotion emerges, I kind of lose connection with my partner, and with love in general. And I know he can see it, but I don’t know how to express it the most healthy way to him so that I can grieve freely without projecting on him or hurting him. These days, I would need much more unusual alone time, or I don’t really want physical affection. But it’s really hard for me to separate my emotions and my loving relationship and I would like at least to express my difficulty to him… does anyone struggle with communicating about what you are going through ?
    Thank you xxx

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    • It’s not easy to communicate what you’re going through, but you could say something like, “I’m struggling and feeling some hard feelings right now. And I’m noticing that I’m needing extra time alone. I love you and I’ll be back.”

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  11. Hi Sheryl, thanks for the post really insightful. I would love to take your conscious marriage course but can’t afford it now. It’s three months to my wedding but I don’t know if I am projecting my fears or if this anxiety I feel is founded. Thanks for what you do.

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  12. Hi Sheryl,

    Just like I do each week, I loved this post. I also just finished reading your book and I loved it too 🙂 Thank you for the constant light, wisdom, vulnerability and guidance you offer through your words and stories. They remain truly appreciated and impacting. You and your teachings are really a gift – thank you!

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    • Thank you for these beautiful words, Tanya, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the book :).

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  13. As always, I want to thank you for your work. It’s always such a blessing. Lately I’ve been feeling quite “off” – almost depressed-like (is this still RA?). I have been SO busy and not exercising or taking much me time lately. When I do have “me time” I am so exhausted I just feel like sleeping. I did some reflecting and knew that I have been neglecting myself. I decided to take your book with me to the park across the street from my apartment. I can’t say that it was an instant fix, but it definitely helped me to start to get myself back on track. Lately I’ve been wrestling with my boyfriend being “enough” in a sense. Saturday I found myself never really feeling the total love honeymoon bliss that I felt for my ex (the one who I was with for 7 years and who shattered my heart due to cheating). I do remind myself that when I started to date my ex, I hadn’t yet experienced RA and hadn’t gone through the torment of the sexual abuse I opened up with a few years later after dating my ex. I’m a different person starting this relationship than I was starting it with my ex, so I can’t really compare. Starting a relationship when you know full well you have RA is totally different than starting a relationship without being in the dark knight of the soul.

    On another note, I haven’t yet felt like the RA is truly a blessing, but I’m hopeful I will. I do wish life were easier and I was less sensitive to the fear “icks” I feel too often. I guess there’s more work for me to do again :). I have also been struggling with a crush I have on a guy at work and quite often dream about him, but I feel as though it’s me trying to avoid getting hurt by choosing who is “best for me” AND being afraid to “make a choice”. I also remind myself that if I was in a relationship with this other guy, I would probably be in the same boat that I am in right now with my current boyfriend.

    Based off of your teachings, I know it’s time for me to turn inward, to work on myself, meditate, exercise, sleep, eat well, socialize with friends etc!

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  14. Hi Sheryl! I love this post! I needed it during this season of difficulty. I had a question, what are ways to get past something you are fixated on? Like physical aspects of my husband that I can’t stand and make me repulsed. My husband is a great and kind human (has his flaws of course the same way I have plenty of my own) but for some reason lately this is REALLY bothering me and I can’t seem to get past it and then I project onto him and become mean. I WANT to love my husband well but for some reason this season has been really hard for me and I just feel like I can’t stand him. Granted, I do suffer from depression and anxiety and take medication for it. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with my behavior. Any advice? Thank you!

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  15. Thank you Sheryl for your beautiful and vulnerable account here. I feel your deep rooted love for your husband and for the courageous journey you have traveled which allowed for your love’s unfolding. I am so grateful for your guidance and model here as it provides us with a compass for our own courageous journeys of loving ourselves and our partners deeply. My projections of my husband came out with a vengeance when I became a mother almost 10 years ago. Your work is a constant reminder for me to hold and work through the intergenerational fear I carry of motherhood. I too am deeply grateful that I stayed and have work hard to unfold a fierce and vulnerable self-love and in the process have been able to love my husband better each time (and my children too). Thank you for releasing us from the toxic messages that love is easy and that anything short of that is a love that was not meant to be. Your work is also a release is that motherhood (or any courageous work) ought to be easy breezy. This is the work of our evolution and I am inspired by your courage to share this work with us. Thank you for leading us with so much love, trust in our capacity to evolve, and compassion for each of our divinely unique journeys. ?

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    • Thank you for this beautiful reflection, Patricia, and for your deep commitment to your own inner work. xo

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  16. “Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.” – Henri Nouwen.
    Sheryl, thanks for reflecting to us that the redeemed, wholed, healed hope we carry is real.
    “To think I almost let him go.” – I feel you! 🙂 xo

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    • Your comments always touch me at the deepest level of being. Thank you. xo

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  17. Sheryl this is great. I sometime compare my husband. then i have these moments: he has a beautiful soul inside and out, he melts my heart, he makes me feel lucky, hes my best friend and the love of my life. I know what you mean about projecting feelings and breaking intergenerational habits.

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    • Returning to gratitude is the fastest way to cut through anxiety.

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  18. Hi Sheryl,

    I found your blog last week and it gave me a pick me up after having a really hard day with my anxious thoughts so thank you so much.
    Im not married but ive been with my partner for almost 3 years. Im in my mid 20s and feel like i am in an identity crisis! I think i have relationship anxiety. I have had a beautiful doubt free very healthy relationship for the first 2 and a half years and then out of nowhere these intusive thoughts arose! “Do i love him the way i should?” “Should i be single?” “Is this right?” It would cause me complete distress and break me down into tears when i imaguned being without him. Be has been an incredible support, more than i could put into words over the last 4 months. Ive almost broke it off a couple of times due to fear even though there is nothing to be fearful about.
    For the first time ever i thought…i have anxiety. Im doing a lot of inner work on myself. I had other stressors in my life when this is happened too. I feel it started with fears over where my career was going. Then it seemed to snowball into this. Can that happen?

    I guess i want to ask is it normal to start to not enjoy the times you have together when you are in this state? Previously we would laugh everyday and have the best time! I find now i need a lot of reassurance. A lot of days i feel myself fighting internally and get annoyed over the little comments he would say…even though they arent bad comments and ones i used to laugh at. Its really disheartening when all you want to do is be happy with someone but sometimes i cant even enjoy the moments together like i used to. Is this normal? I would love some strategies about how to conquer this.
    I feel in my heart that i shouldnt leave this relationship as i would be giving up on something truely amazing.

    Thanks for listening, i would really love your help!

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  19. Thanks so much for your quick reply! It really means the world. I hope this really is relationship anxiety and nothing more..struggling to hang on (its even all i dream about now too which is quite distressing, its effecting every part of me) but i will keep persevering! I feel lost as to who i am! I only hope the anxiety is merely latching on to whats most important to me. I worry im pushing myself away from him, like i want to just throw it in.

    Thanks for the pointers and listening to my novel! Good to get off my chest!

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  20. Hi Sheryl,

    I am wondering if you can offer any thoughts on me comparing my partner to a male therapist I had. I am doubting if I could share more intimacy with someone who I could talk to about things like I did with my therapist? Would I or a different relationship feel better if my partner could explore and talk about feelings and thoughts like a therapist? Or is this a different way for me to be projecting and/or expecting others to take care of my feelings and thoughts? Maybe to even elicit care and validation that I am not providing myself? Thanks.

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  21. Hi Sheryl!
    I’m so happy (and somehow relieved 🙂 to have found your blog. It’s so good to find out that lots of people from different parts of the world (I’m from Eastern Europe myself and English is my second language) share the same love issues… Here, you are mentioning harsh responses from your loving one – I have a completely different problem. Whenever I speak about my anxiety and uncertainty with my fiance (we’ve been together for 2 years), his only response is “I love you, I want to take care of you”. Maybe I’m stupid, but sometimes I’ve got a feeling that it doesn’t matter to him if I love him – the fact that HE has somebody to love is enough for both of us… The word “obsession” comes to my mind. In fact, sometimes I WOULD like him to be more harsh, like: “girl, decide, because I also want respect and I want to know what I’m standing on”. Sheryl, how would you comment upon this?

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  22. I’m here as a man, trying to help find ways to help my wife in our quest to improve the quality of our lives together in our marriage. I hate to throw water on what you’re saying here, because I mostly agree with it, with one caveat– There has to be a certain willingness on the part of both parties from the get-go to not just accept (or worse ignore) the things that trouble them, but more importantly a willingness to actually change– not just your own behaviors, but also how you perceive and react to the behaviors of others.

    You said, “I’ve been fiercely devoted to working through my fears”. This is one of my wife core problems that I think causes a lot of the anguish between us. Specifically in her case, it’s a predilection with what other people think. Of this topic, I’ll often say that while I care very much about what other people think of my character (I do want to be perceived as a kind person, for example), I really don’t give a damn about what other people think about what I DO (If you don’t like my clothes, the way I (dis)organize my garage, or how tall my grass is, that’s YOUR problem, not mine). The problem I see with being overly concerned about what other people think is that it’s a vicious cycle– In my long life experience, I’ve found that you’ll never live up to the standards that others set for you, particularly if those standards are based on what you think they think. The most important thing is to like yourself; set your standards of excellence and then strive for them. Live life, and realize that when you’re gone, most of this crap doesn’t matter. They’re going to sell everything you own for a $1 at an estate sale and you will (hopefully) be in a much better place and it won’t matter. So, enjoy life while you’re here. Live well, do good, love the Lord, and be kind to others. That’s my basic philosophy.

    This probably comes off as passive-aggressive, but I sometimes say, not just of my wife but at times to her, that while I know she LOVES me, I don’t think she LIKES me. That seems counterintuitive, but I have a feeling most people here will get what I’m saying. This manifests itself in a lot of ways, but some of the most significant and problematic are that it causes her to speak and interact with me in ways that cut very deep. Of myself, I’ve often said that you can get me to do just about anything, if you just ask nicely (that’s a weakness of mine, admittedly). Conversely, I respond VERY badly to disrespect. I was always raised to be polite and respectful of others. I try very hard when offering criticism or feedback to use inclusive language when giving praise (hey you really did a bang up job on dinner tonight!) but less inclusive language when the feedback is negative (we really need to find a way to keep these dogs calm in the evening). By contrast, my wife will accuse me of many things– Our house is a mess “because you wear shoes in the house.” She sets sometimes arbitrary goals and deadlines for things, (things that are my responsibility) and then gets angry when I don’t have task “X” done when “she” wanted it done. She’ll then say “you need to do a better job of keeping your promises.” The reality is that I may have heard her statement that she wanted X done by March 15, but the reality is that it NEEDED to be done by March 25, and THAT is what I promised. As the date approaches, she gets more and more worried about the impending deadline, but what she fails to recognize is that it’s MY RESPONSIBILITY. Once I’ve said “I will”, that’s it. Get your boot out of my butt. Sometimes all that nagging can turn things into a self-fulfilling prophecy, which only perpetuates more of itself– If I get it done, the only reason I got it done was because you hounded me every step of the way. Getting it done on time is tantamount to getting it done “at the last minute”. Likewise, if I don’t get it done… well… that’s why you nag.

    My wife often uses terms like “positivity”– She wants to be positive (I can certainly respect and agree with that), but there’s this idea today that I call “toxic positivity”, where to many people, being positive means ignoring what’s negative. My wife hates political news; we’re both very concerned about a number of things happening in the world today. But, shutting out the world and pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t an answer (of course, watching Tucker Carlson non-stop and getting all mired up in stuff you can’t change is equally unproductive). She accuses me of “brining the world in to our home” when topics come up; on the other hand, all that “positivity” goes out the window when it comes to her critiques of me. It all seems so petty and childish, but these arguments compound one upon another, and they are quickly eroding the quality of our life together. Little by litter we’re learning to just live in separate ends of the house.

    I know that none of these things is completely one-sided; we each have our things we need to work on. I have that list, and I work on it every day. I truly strive to not just tolerate some things, but learn to accept them; to learn to see things at times through a different lens. By contrast, my wife doesn’t seem to do that. She will tolerate some things, but that just means she stuffs her anger or discontent somewhere way down inside, allowing it to fester, and then one day it boils to the surface. I keep trying to get her to see that, to a certain extent, life is very much how you PERCEIVE it, more than how it comes to you. Yes, hardship and strife are unpleasant no matter what your attitude is, but many thing only matter because of we let them get to us.

    You said in your post that having friends to sound off of and get feedback from is important. I think that’s important, but also those have to be the kind of friends who will give honest feedback, and dare I say (eh-hem) most won’t. I have a dear friend (a fellow male and Christian) who will absolutely give me honest feedback. Sometimes it has been brutal, but it’s always been honest, and frankly it ‘s been life-changing. In my experience and observations, many females don’t seem to give that kind of feedback to one another; they often listen, and act as advocates and validate the emotions of their friend. I’m not saying that’s wrong– I’m just saying that sometimes, a dose of brutal honesty, delivered in a loving context from the right person, could go a long way to helping someone make beneficial changes in their life.

    I love my my wife very much. Her happiness is of paramount importance to me. Sadly, I spend a great deal of my life alone and filled with sorrow because I constantly feel guilty for not measuring up– for not being the man she would have me be, even though I know the reality of that is likely unattainable for anyone. I know my wife loves me; I believe that she sees my love is real and I believe that she feels loved by me more than she has ever felt loved by anyone before. Nonetheless, I don’t feel like she likes me a person, and that feeling is absolutely toxic to my spirit.

    There’s probably not a lot of practical advice anyone here can give form this little vignette, but I’ll take it in if you have it. What I do hope though is that maybe my story (while likely different from that of others) will offer you, as a woman, some insight into “the other side” of things.

    Reply

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