Building a Marriage

Sometimes ‘aha’ moments come out of the most unexpected events.

I think it started with a compliment from my son.  He and his new wife had invited the family for dinner last night, and as my husband was tied up all day, Jay offered to pick me up early.

“You look nice, Mom!” were the first words out of his mouth as he wrapped his arms around me for a big bear hug.  “You look younger.”

I had made an extra effort to do my hair and put on makeup (things I stopped doing when illness struck three years ago).

“Thanks!”  The comment perked me up and at the same time, made me realize it’s been a long time since anyone has said that to me.

Then tonight at dinner, Ric made a comment about how nice I looked – a day late, but still very welcome.

Then he went to the living room to watch sports and I returned to bed, where I spend much of my time.

The ‘aha’ moment came much later in the evening, as I thought about how much it meant to me to be noticed by the men in my life.

I have spent so much of relationship time trying to stay out of sight, thinking that by giving my man as much space as possible he would not be bothered, or more importantly, burdened by me.

Like I did with my father.  My father, whose needs dictated that we be in bed before he got home, who pushed us aside when sports were on, and who only ever came to visit us as adults for five or ten minutes, preferring to get home to his ‘games’.

Father taught me that good girls stay out from under foot.

My former husband, whose addiction to his race car kept him away from home for the better part of every week, also taught me I was the perfect wife, because I never demanded anything from him, and was available when he wanted.  I spent years waiting for him to want me.

I am a background wife, who never demands.

How is it that I didn’t put these pieces together before?  Here I am 58, on my third marriage, and just now realizing that I have been the invisible woman hoping that will make me loveable.

Oh God.  I wonder what my husband is thinking?   Does he think I’m disinterested?  Or is he like me:  a waiter?

If marriage is about meeting the needs of each other, then that is not happening here.  Avoiding my needs, which is what has to done to be invisible, is counter to intimacy.  As is making assumptions about his needs (i.e. that he doesn’t want me around).

There is a dialogue to be had here.  A conversation about wants, and desires, and how we become more connected.  I love my husband; he is a dear, dear, man, but; I also feel very alone at times.   Settling for what is, is not the answer.  Marriage is a work in progress, and if we’re going to progress, it’s time to get back to work.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

3 thoughts on “Building a Marriage

  1. VJ, greetings. I noticed you liked a recent post of mine, so I thought I would take a peek at yours. I have written before about a word in the Greek language that David Brooks introduced me to in his book “The Social Animal.” It is called “thumos” and it means recognition and belonging, as we humans crave both.

    I am happy your son and husband recognized your more youthful countenance. Your father’s wanting you to stay out of the way must have had an impact as it would have on me.

    I wish for you the best in making the others recognize you for the vital person you are. And, if they don’t maybe you need to rattle their cage a little. We men can get too comfortable and need to be reminded that we are only half this relationship. All the best, Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Keith. My husband always says: “We teach others how we want to be treated” – this post was an extension of that idea. All is well, and I’m learning to ‘rattle’ ha ha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well said. My wife will let me know if I am not listening enough. Or, better yet, she will say, “I am going to vent at someone else. I don’t want you to fix anything, I just want you to listen.”

        Liked by 1 person

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