He loves me, He really loves me!

Michael and I have been married for 18 years.  Yes, I know and have known for a long time now that he loves me, but I also know that he hasn’t always liked me very much.  In truth, I can say the same about him.  I haven’t always liked him, but I’ve always loved him.  More accurately, we haven’t always liked each other’s words, actions or attitudes, but we’ve still loved each other.

We were quite young when we started dating.  As a matter of fact, we were high school sweethearts.  We’d become best friends before we actually started dating.  We had a long engagement, wanting to wait until we’d finished college before tying the knot.  In those early years we were very open with one another in regard to communication.  We could talk about anything and everything.  We’d have long conversations about our hopes, our dreams, our fears and who knows what all else.  Sometimes these conversations were serious, other times silly, often a bit of both.  But we both felt safe sharing whatever was on our minds or in our hearts with the other.

Then life got challenging.  There were moves and job changes and children.  There were health issues and deaths and difficult decisions to be made.  Sometimes these things would bring us together, but increasingly, over time, they started to pull us apart.  The worst part of it is that we let it happen.  It wasn’t purposeful.  That wasn’t our intent.  We didn’t mean to let life come between us, but that’s what was happening.  We were just trying to cope, trying to get through, even trying to make the best of it.  But, many times we had different ways of coping with things and the reality of it is, we stopped turning toward one another for support and started becoming more and more independent.

Independence…I thought that was a good thing.  You do your thing and I’ll do mine.  We both get to do what we want, how we want, when we want.  I won’t rely on you and don’t rely on me.  I’ll handle my responsibilities, you handle yours.  Was this really what married life was supposed to be like?

Since we’ve started changing the dynamic of our relationship, I’ve been relying more on Michael and I’ve been feeling a bit torn about that.  On the one hand, it was nice to have someone to turn to and share things with.  But, on the other hand it made me feel needy…and I wasn’t sure I liked that.  I shouldn’t need him so much, should I?  I was used to feeling like I could handle just about anything on my own, no need to consult him.  And if he consulted me about something I was often impatient with him, wondering why on earth he was asking me.  But now I had this needy feeling and that confused me.  I wondered if this new state of affairs bothered Michael.  Did he think I was needier?  Would my new reliance on him end up driving him away?  Would he end up resenting me?  We were lying in bed with one another after having enjoyed some intimate moments together and I decided to ask.

Um…sweetie?

Yeah?

Do you think I’m more needy now?

He took a moment to think it over.

Yes.

My breath caught in my throat.  I could feel myself start shrinking before his eyes.  But then he quickly added…

But, that’s a good thing.

Huh? 

Ok, I was confused now.

Before, I didn’t really feel like you needed me anymore…like any guy with a paycheck could easily replace me.

I couldn’t believe his words.  I never wanted him to feel like that!

I’ve always needed you!  No one could ever replace you!  I’m so sorry for ever making you feel that way!

Thanks sweetheart, but I think we both made each other feel that way.

I guess he was right.  I had made him feel like he wasn’t needed, like he wasn’t an important part of my life, like anyone could fill his shoes.  And, truthfully, I often felt pretty replaceable as his wife.  I didn’t feel like he needed me for me, but that he needed someone to take care of the house and the kids, someone to hold down the fort while he was gone.  

There were times when I wanted to reach out to him, when, in fact, I longed to do so.  But, most of the time I felt too vulnerable.  I didn’t feel safe…not physically unsafe, but emotionally.  I imagine he felt much the same way.  We still loved each other, but there was a distance growing between us.  Some of the times when I missed him the most he was right there beside me.  I found myself wondering what would become of us after the kids were grown and out of the house.  It was the first time I had thought about things that way and it made me feel so sad and empty inside.

It was a pretty sad state of affairs really.  I don’t know how we ended up there.  It’s not like it happened overnight.  But I’m glad we’ve changed course and are headed in a new direction.  Now our paths converge more and more.  No, we’re not attached at the hip, we’re still capable of handling situations and tasks on our own.  Yes, I guess I’m needier, but I’m trying to think of that as a positive change.    What’s the point otherwise?  And, I’m not sure if he’d appreciate me saying so, but I think he’s needier too.  And that’s also a good thing.  What wife doesn’t want to feel needed by her husband?

We’re both relying on one another more now.  We’re opening up more, sharing our thoughts and feelings.  And ya know what?  It feels good…really good.  He’s starting to realize that I love him for him, that I do need him, that no one else can fill his shoes (he does have pretty big feet, lol).  And I’m realizing that he loves me, he really loves me!  ; )  It’s me that he wants, me that he needs, no one else will do.  Slowly, but surely we’re becoming each other’s safe place again...the place where we can be ourselves, where we can share our hopes and fears and start building dreams together again.

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