She said that while she did not doubt that I love her, she didn't know whether or not I'd mourn her, if she died.
My protestations died a-borning, because I realized that it was the me that she saw, and of whose existence she was convinved as the result of ten years of marriage. A few words would not change that.
I felt, helplessly, "You don't know me!"
Even though the ideal of courtship holds that we'll know our spouse better in a few love-drancehed hours than we'll ever know anyone, it's simply not true. Our beloved is a human being, interesting sometimes, boring sometimes. Someone who mirrors our heart, yet the next moment is as foreign as a Mongolian warlord.
Early in a relationship, we want to know the person we're with, so we study them (except stuff which we'd prefer not to know, which we are very good at ignoring...until later). But after we've shared a bathroom for a year, after we know that he'll forget to take out the trash, or that she'll almost never bake a pie, we leave school.
Study is replaced by assumptions, or predictions based on past behavior. The real person sharing the bed is replaced by a cardboard cutout, that is on;y allowed to think what we let 'it' think.
Our marriages are THE most important relationships we'll have in this life. So, how do we stay in the present, with the person we love?
- Listen! When you have a conversation, actually take the time to listen to what your spouse is saying. Don't be busy phrasing your reply; let that wait till he's finished. Sure, the converastion will take longer, but did you get married to get things done more quickly?
- Observe! What's important to him? What draws his attention?What does he read? Don't be flippant here, or dismissive. Maybe he reads comic book, maybe he reads "Playboy" (I hope not!). Try to understand what speaks to him.
- Share! Watch movies together, and let him choose. Yes, that means you may need to spend a couple of hours on a pleasant weekend with Arnold, Sylvester, or Clint. But here's the good part...you don't have to watch the movie. Watch your husband. Where does he sit forward, paying more attention? What do those scenes mean? Do they speak to loyalty, or laughter?
- Ask! Ask your spouse what's important, and how he feels about things. When you were courting he was probably only too happy to tell you...and after the honeymoon you probably couldn't pry it out with threats of torture. It will take time, and it's important.
No matter. Now is where you are.
Even if it's a bit scary, try to remember that a few years or decades ago, you made a decision to be here, with this person. And you're still here.
It wasn't all that bad a choice.