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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

April 11, 2006...I love you more

****Moving over an old blog****

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors; her books are always challenging and thought-provoking. One of my less favorite of her books is Mercy; one of the plotlines revolves around a cheating husband and since I've been there, done that in my first marriage, I'm not really interested in infidelity from the OTHER point of view. But I digress. The main plotline deals with a mercy killing by a husband who deeply loves his terminally ill wife. The husband, Jamie, in talking with his cousin's wife, says something that really stuck with me:

"Then you're the one."

Allie blinked at him. "The one what?"

"The one who loves more. You know it's never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It's always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride."

Isn't that something? And true, I think, at least in the relationships I've had. In my first marriage, I think I was the one who loved more. I didn't have that feeling before we married; rather, I had even thought that if one of us ever cheated it would be me. Not that I would ever do that, but he was so devoted to me that I KNEW he never would. After we married, though, he withdrew. He was there but emotionally absent. In retrospect, I think that maybe since his parents were never married, his ideas about love were pretty well formed by TV and movies. He knew a lot about the wooing but didn't really know what to do once the wedding was over. And I probably pushed him away as I kept moving towards him and he pulled away.

Hopefully I've learned from that experience. Not sure about him, as he's on his third marriage (ours was his first). He remains good at the wooing! This time, though, I think maybe he's found someone who can teach him more about the marriage part. I hope so...his third wife has become a good friend of mine and is a great partner in raising our kids.

In my current marriage, things are different. I would say that my husband loves me more. When we say our "I love you"s at night before going to sleep, he will often even say, "I love you more." The first time he did, it gave me a start: does he feel it, too? I hope not. I would hate for him to feel the way that I did with my ex-husband, like there's always something or someone more important than you, that you aren't the priority.

I love him completely and am absolutely committed to our marriage. I recognize that he is an absolutely wonderful man, husband, and father. I think that part of the difference is that he lives his love more, is a more selfless person than I am. It's funny, too, because I'm the one who fell in love first and chased him. And now that we're married, he's the one who lives it more.
Part of it, too, is that I have a greater need for "alone" time than he does. You know how people when they're dating want to be together constantly? He's still largely like that, but I need more space. We have very different jobs. He works with one partner and they are pretty much on their own doing their job most of the time. I, on the other hand, spend my entire day taking care of others, between getting the kids up in the morning after he leaves to teaching a roomful of kindergarteners and first graders all day. There is no time in my day for solitude, something I desperately need, until our kids finally go to bed. Unfortunately, that's also the only time we have to spend time alone together. How do you fix that?

Luckily, he is patient. I think back to my first marriage and can see how lucky I am compared to how my ex-husband was. When HE pulled away, I chased and got upset. I thought it was a reflection on my and our marriage rather than just his adjustment to married life. I'm sure that I pushed him further with my need. Now, I don't think that was the only issue, but my current life makes me see that part of our history differently. And it encourages me to be careful in how I fill my needs so that I'm not abandoning my husband's.

Marriage is a real adjustment. Anyone who's ever been married knows that in a way that, with all the words in the world, you can't convey to someone who's never been married. My husband and I have many similarities and many differences, and after nearly 4 years we're still learning how to reconcile all of them so that we can both be complete, happy people. I think that the biggest differences between this marriage and my first are maturity and commitment. Neither of us is going anywhere, both of us are conscious of treating the other with love and respect, and we're both grown-up enough to be able to wait and work at things.

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