Sunday, January 20, 2013

Acting As a Woman in Love

Some days Grant is easier to love than others. We just celebrated 9 years of marriage and are very familiar with the reality of living together. We truly know each other. All the gritty bits that no one else knows, like the fact that our walk-in closet is his junk drawer or that he doesn't put anything away after he makes his lunch in the morning. But more than his daily living habits, in 9 years of marriage I have discovered some of his deeper struggles as a human being and have been surprised by my own inability to love him in spite of them. I have learned that some of these gritty bits of his personality are endearing and some are annoying as shit.

He just came back from two weeks of travel for his new job- a week in California and a week in Boston. When he is gone, I miss him terribly. This time apart always makes me evaluate how we treat one another, and I vow to treat him with more kindness, patience and love when he returns. I can get pretty horrible after a long day with two babes and if he doesn't meet my expectations for help and empathy when he comes home I can be fairly snarky and passive aggressive. The worst combination- it's like an emotional sucker punch. I say whatever comes to mind without passing it through my wifely love filter, then retreat into mopey silence.

I justify this behavior by dwelling on his failing to meet my expectations. He didn't take the babes off my hands immediately so I could finish dinner, or he made a comment about how messy the house was. Both giving me permission to snap something about how we should trade jobs for a day and see what the house looks like after he spends 10 hours with two babes whose new favorite activity is taking all the couch cushions off and jumping on them. These snappy retorts are always unhelpful, but I keep doing it hoping for a different response from him other than defensiveness and confusion.

Then I read this from Tim Keller's book The Meaning of Marriage:

"Though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings... The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor, act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. Whether we do good to another self, just because it is a self made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less."- C.S. Lewis

"Having said this (the above quote by Lewis), it is important to observe that of the two- emotion and action- it is the latter that we have the most control over. It is the action of love that we can promise to maintain every day." - Tim Keller

In other words, by acting as a woman in love, I will come to truly love Grant. I can show him that I love HIM, not my idea of him or the man he is when he fulfills all my expectations. I can't promise to like him every moment but I can promise to love him with my actions. Even when all that means is that I keep my mouth shut when I would rather speak my piece.

The fact of the matter is that I hit the jackpot with Grant- he is attentive and helpful and sacrificial and brave. He puts our family first in his decisions about everything he does- even when his life would be easier if he just moved ahead and asked the babes and I to adjust. He is a good friend and I really love just hanging out with him drinking a beer and playing cards. He is interested and interesting, which makes him a great conversationalist. I could go on, but the point is that I am not dealing with a dead beat husband or lazy Dad. I am married to a human being who has flaws and is not always lovely.

But he is married to a human being too. And one who is much more difficult to love, if I were being truly self-aware and if what I have confessed about myself in this blog post is any indication... If we both decide to actively love the other more than ourselves, we will find ourselves truly in love. Not with an idea or a hope, but actually a person. Free of each other's expectations and grateful for the moments when we choose to act like we are in love instead of demanding the other person do it first.

(now, to send this blog post to Grant's email so he can read it and start actively loving me)

Going out to celebrate 9 years of Grant being smart enough to marry me.


  1. you love drinking beer and playing cards with him unless the game is euchre and you lead with a bauer...which is not a strategy :)

  2. "He is interested and interesting..."

    That's the best compliment I've ever heard.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful example of what it means to live and love as a flawed humanity. I'll have to check out that book.