Sunday, May 19, 2013

Learning to Love

One of the reasons I like to go to church on Saturday night is so I can watch Oprah's Super Soul Sunday on Sunday morning. Is that sad? LOL

One of the shows this morning is made of clips from an old Oprah episode, about couples who are on the brink of divorce. When Oprah first interviewed the therapist who is working with these couples, one of the things he talked about is how we bring our childhood wounds into our marriages. And in fact we choose partners who bring up old pain so we have the chance to work through it.

I admit I thought that was a bunch of hooey.

But as he's working with these distraught couples, I see what he's saying. Once you discover details about their childhoods, it's obvious how that is impacting their marriages. Wow, crazy.

Jeremy and I both had pretty normal childhoods. We both have siblings, and both sets of parents are still married. There was no abuse, no big family secrets. But as children we were very, very different. Jeremy matured quickly, and because he worked for his family business from a very early age, he had to learn how to put on an air of confidence that he didn't necessarily always feel inside. I, on the other hand, matured verrrry slowly. I was a very naive girl and didn't really know who I was until I was at least 25. I hid my insecurities from my peers by being overly independent.

If you know us personally, that last paragraph just made you go, "Oh wow, I totally get them now." Right???

I had to learn how to depend on Jeremy, and make him feel like he was the most important person in the world. He had to learn how to see through my independence and proactively help me even when I didn't ask for it.

This didn't come naturally. This was the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of learning to love each other for who we really are.

As I told my friend Angie the other day, "It's about loving each other even when we want to strangle each other."

The loss we endured last year could have torn us apart. But because we had already learned these marriage lessons, we were each other's safe place. We could open up to one another and tell each other how we were truly feeling, without worrying that the other would abandon the marriage. We could cry and know that the other person would just hold us -- without feeling obligation to verbalize the hurt. Jeremy understood when I threw myself into work, and I understood when he needed some time to decide what he was going to do now that he wasn't a stay-at-home dad anymore. Our home was a safe space to process the tragedy.

I read something on Facebook last night that talked about how "falling in love" was a wonderful thing -- but it never lasts. After the hormones fade and the butterflies quiet, you have to learn how to love the one you've chosen. Is it easy? HECK no. Learning to love someone means sacrificing your pride and letting go of control, and that isn't easy for anyone.

But is it worth it?

HECK yes.

Just imagine what I would be writing here, a year after our daughter died, if we hadn't learned to love each other this way.

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