I was enjoying lunch with a divorced friend, when talk turned to marriage and relationships. She asked: “if you met your husband for the first time today, would you be interested in going on a second date with him?” Apparently, unlike many other women to whom she has posed the same question, I answered “yes.”
If I were to meet my husband for the first time today, almost thirty years since we first met, I would still find him charismatic, intelligent and good looking. I would certainly be interested in getting to know more about him. So, that’s a good thing. I wonder if he would feel the same about me?
What I realized upon answering my friend is that I am fortunate. I also realized that despite how I feel, he likely doesn’t know it. And that I should tell him – which I did before publishing this!
The reason that he likely didn’t know that I still find him interesting and entertaining is that I, along with many married women, tend to focus more on what he does “wrong” than “right”.
I don’t mean to imply that men are exempt from not focusing on the good in their spouses, but I do believe that we, as women, tend to be more particular about the way things are done and when.
However, I’ve come to realize that when my husband leaves a tissue lying on the couch, belches out loud or walks over the clothes on the floor to get into bed, that he is not purposely trying to piss me off. My belief is that he either does not see what I see, or doesn’t care about order the way I do.
I recognize that it’s difficult to see beyond years of the intense flame fizzling out in order to experience a glow. It’s the little things that tend to drive a wedge between couples. A little chipping away at the foundation that holds a couple together every day means that in time, the wedge becomes a large gaping hole that is sometimes too big to fill.
In my most recent book about why married couples don’t have sex, I offer an exercise to help individuals within a couple recognize when and how they are being critical of their spouses and what to do about it.
I get that criticisms are often symptoms of bigger issues such as feeling as if there is an unfair division of labour at home or that you’re not on the same team regarding finances or parenting, for example. These bigger causes often have to be uncovered and addressed so that the symptoms can move away.
But if you put all the triggers and issues that cause conflict aside for a moment, if you put anger and resentment on the back burner so that you are left with the person you once met and wanted to marry, does he or she still embody the qualities that you find attractive and important?
If so, tell your partner. I’m glad I did. And he is too!