Respect the Husband

Bobby in Paris in 1998, moments after France won some terribly important game in the World Cup

I’ve just had an idea, and now my thoughts are all swirling around like crazy in my head. I should confess that I’ve been told these little revelations I have several times a day are, in fact, not always as awe-worthy as I experience them to be. Bobby says my “ah ha!” moments are more like “uh huh” moments—as in, “uh huh, yes, everyone but you knows that already.” I maintain, however, that he’s just not deep enough to get what I’m saying. Obviously.

So, getting back to my idea, it all starts with my husband, Bobby. Or actually, come to think of it, it starts with my ex-husband, Thomas, back when he was my husband. In the final months before our separation, when our marriage was rapidly and uncontrollably eroding beneath my feet (like the way the ocean sand does when a wave reverses and heads back out to sea), he asked me if I loved him. Shocked and offended that he would question my love, when I had always been so loyal, I said of course I did. Months later, after reading, listening, seeking, and learning—I was amazed and aghast when I realized that I hadn’t loved him in quite the way I thought I had.

Unconditional love means accepting another person as they are, flawed and beautiful, with their unique concoction of blind spots and strengths. Without meaning to, I had failed to see Thomas with open eyes. Instead I fell into a pattern of thinking of him as little more than an extension of me, as if marriage came with ownership papers, rather than a separate person walking the earth just like me. Perhaps because of this, I never noticed that I had turned a blind eye to his true nature. In my head I built him up to be this altered version of who he was—in essence, who I wanted him to be.

Imagining him to be someone else, of course I was constantly disappointed by his actions—they didn’t match my expectations! Quick example: I thought he was a soul-searching dreamer. So why did he never want to discuss a movie after we finished watching it? Where was the dialogue? Hello, Amy! He is NOT a soul-searching dreamer. He just likes to watch movies. Period. What’s there to discuss? If I had recognized this break between my expectations and actual reality earlier, it would have avoided a lot of problems. I’m not sure we would have gotten married, but it would have avoided a lot of problems. (Of course, that would have also avoided the birth of my son, so when I find myself heading down this road, I just turn around and head back.)

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