Evenings at our house are rather hilarious … you see, neither of us cook. Kids are now gone and so is the sense of obligation to fix dinner … or go to the grocery store. The beloved and I will walk in the door sometime around 7, look at each other and then look into our empty fridge. We open a bottle of wine and do our best to get creative. We laugh. One of us usually says something about wishing we had a “wife” … but look as we may … he is nowhere to be found!
At our age beauty is seen in flexibility. Our skin is more like a ducks back … so much just rolls off. It takes a lot for us to get flustered. Gone are the days when things had to be just so. I’m far from perfect and so is he. But parts of us are tasty and those are the parts we relish and feast on regularly. We don’t get everything done … far from it. Our timing for tasks is completely different. I make decisions fast, he makes them slow. I plan ahead, he keeps the options open. He brings us spontaneity, I bring us … I don’t know, predictability? You know, the boring stuff. But, we ‘get’ each other … and we appreciate each other.
It can be so easy sometimes to focus on how our differences drive us crazy … but these days, we seem to want to focus on how lucky we are. I think over time we have just gotten better at accepting our differences, making adaptations, lowering our expectations, figuring out work-arounds and deciding to focus on what is good about “us”.
So in honor of all that I love about him, here is today’s rambling ‘love list’ …
- I love the way he gets distracted from working in his home office at night (often several times) to come find me and nibble on my neck for a while.
- I love the way he hates to get out of bed in the morning and just wants to hold on as if he could stop time.
- I love the way he worships the feel of my skin and the smell of my hair.
- I love the way he listens to my rants about sexual shame, abuses of power, sexual health, the spiritual side of sex, our kids.
- I love that when I freak out about some proclamation one of the kids make about their future that scares me, how gentle he is in reminding me that they are ever evolving and to be patient.
- I love that he gets the mail and takes out the garbage … 2 things I routinely love to forget.
- I love that he is always 100% behind my dreams and passions – even when it takes resources from ‘us’.
- I love that I have never felt like his intimate touch was about him … but always about his love and desire for me. I tell him he needs to bottle and sell this … it is magic!
- I love that he is usually willing to read a book with me or go to a conference about marriage, sex or spirituality. What man does that?
- I love that he cries at stories of love and attachment, and feels with his whole being.
- I love that his intelligence and who he is in the world makes me want to be my best self
- I love how he loves and protects our kids, our family, our life together.
- I love how hard he works, how much integrity he has and how you can completely trust him.
- I love how his body fits perfectly with mine.
Now while this is quite the list … he is not perfect … I am not perfect … we are not perfect. In fact you cannot be human and be perfect. It’s an oxymoron. I could write an equally long list of complaints … and his about me would be longer – for sure!! But you know, there is nothing on my complaint list that is more important than the things on my ‘love’ list. They may be nagging inconveniences – but they are opportunities to grow my patience and compassion with him. Just as he grows his patience and compassion being married to me (and it is NOT easy – trust me!). He is a true gem.
One of the truths about the tender heart of a human, is that we bloom under the ‘love list’ of our partner or parent, and wilt under their constant criticism. In a past life I lived under constant criticism. It was like being a block of delicious aged gouda slowly being dragged across a cheese grater. After years of constant reminders of all my many failures and flaws, I was but a whisper of myself. Finding my value was like finding oxygen in water. I was always gasping for air. If we have the privilege to be around children we see the evidence of how they are treated. We can observe the difference in confidence between the child who is affirmed and the child who is criticized. As we get older, we get better at hiding the effects of how we are treated. We wear a mask. But our heart is made of the same tender substance it always has. Criticism is like poison. Honest affirmation and love … pure nourishment. Yet somehow if things are particularly rough in our partnerships, we are all prone to criticism and silencing our appreciation. It is as if we are afraid silencing our desire to criticize and focus our mind, heart and words on what we appreciate and love is “giving in”, “not standing our ground”, “letting him get away with something”, etc. Have you ever found yourself thinking something like this? We want so badly to believe that criticism and lectures actually work to create change in others – even tho we know it never works with us. Why is this?
Now, a lifetime later, I am eternally grateful that this is the man I get to learn more about the gift and nature of love alongside. I don’t want to be on my deathbed, or he on his, when we realize what gifts we were given. I don’t want to squander our opportunity to grow in grace and compassion by focusing on our complaints and criticisms – or try to change each other to be more like clones of ourselves. I want to learn to appreciate our differences and expand the things I love. I want to feel them, wallow in my appreciation, marinate in my gratefulness. Feel the fullness of this blessing. It seems a much more life giving way to live.
For those interested in coming to our next Passion for Life Couples Intimacy Retreat. Registration is now open and there are a few spots still available. The retreat is September 24 – 27, 2015 at the beautiful Whistler Village Pan Pacific, British Columbia, Canada. For more information and to register.
By Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD, LMFT www.TinaSchermerSellers.com