I wrote this on September 13th but didn’t post it. So here it is…
Today is normally the day that I write something inspiring or at least heartwarming about love. Instead, I am contemplating the aspects of love that no one wants to admit in fear of being jaded or too dark. This would have been my 16th year anniversary, but instead it’s our first anniversary after splitting up. We’re still married, but that doesn’t seem to matter at all, if it ever mattered in the first place.
In my year of reflection, what have I learned about love?
I don’t believe that we should love unconditionally and if it even exists it’s extremely rare and unfortunate. You can love deeply and be forgiving, but in some dark place there is a deal breaker. You might be able to love someone who treats you poorly, gaslights you, talks down to you, and even cheats on you… but would you love someone who hurts your children? Should you? (We don’t have kids, it’s merely an example of limits.)
If there is any scenario that you can imagine not loving someone, then it’s not unconditional and that’s a good thing! If such an individual possesses such an unconditional love, I hope they find someone worthy of it. In the wrong hands, it’s dangerous and very damaging.
What I do believe in is deep collaborative and mutual love. I do believe that the little things matter in large quantities. If you lose a dollar, it’s not really a big deal. If you lose a dollar once a month, it’s only $12 a year – no biggy! However, if you are consistently losing a dollar an hour in a 12 hour day, that’s $84 a week, $336 a month, and over $4000 a year.
People will often talk about how special the little things are. You care about me so much that you put a note in my lunch every day. That’s so special. Just as those beautiful little moments add up, so do the mean ones, and so do the mere absence of good ones. If you are the one saying “I love you.” all the time, you should stop and listen for a while. If you aren’t getting the love back, without prompting or as a tool for getting something out of you, maybe it’s time to have a conversation.
I have learned that justifying hurtful behavior, and trivializing your partner’s feelings, are unhealthy in a relationship. When you address your feelings, you shouldn’t be told your feelings are wrong. You shouldn’t be told it’s over “nothing”. Even if you are being over emotional, your feelings shouldn’t be trivialized or ignored. Not being in the mood to discuss issues and being unwilling to schedule a time to do so, means you have no intention of dealing with them.
I have learned that convincing arguments can trick you into ignoring what’s right in front of your face. “I wouldn’t have been here with you all these years if I didn’t love you.” sounds convincing and makes you feel ashamed for feeling unloved, but then here we are. I look closer at the truth. I valued that we made it through the worst of times and yet we are broken up in the best of times. While I stayed for love, you stayed for benefit. Now that you don’t need me anymore…