I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with my husband, or anyone for that matter. My modus operandi had been to be aloof where guys were concerned and to keep my inner self hidden. Years of abuse had led me to believe I was unlovable and that men were not to be trusted. So I always kept myself at a distance.
If boyfriends fell in love with me, and a few did, I told myself that they didn’t know the real me and so they were only in love with what they thought they knew of me. They were in love with an idea, but not me. So when I felt like moving on, I did, pretty much without a care for what I left behind. Even when I myself fell in love with someone, I still kept most of my inner world tightly guarded.
When I met my husband, I consciously decided to perform an experiment. I decided I wasn’t going to play games or pretend with him. I was just going to be me and see what happened. I had always kept the real me hidden on the assumption that no one could like the real me, so I wanted to know for certain if this was true or not. So that’s what I did. I was just me, without pretense. I didn’t expect him to like the real me, but he did. I especially wasn’t expecting him to fall in love with me, but that’s what happened.
Unlike the other guys who had said they loved me, I knew this one was real. First, I had shown him the real me, and second, my now-husband acted like he loved me.
He listened to me. He wanted to know what I thought about things and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. He would lean in and be enraptured as I told him about all my ideas and theories about random stuff. (He later told me that all those deep thoughts of mine were what made him fall in love with me). Also, when we discussed things, he always treated me as an equal. He didn’t assume he knew more than me or interrupt me or talk down to me.
It always impressed me (and still does) that my husband was always the same no matter who we were around. He didn’t act one way around his friends and a different way around me. He is very shy, so he may be more or less open and relaxed depending on his comfort level, but he is always himself. He is straightforward (ok, often a bit blunt) and what you see is what you get. This showed his integrity to me and made me respect him in return.
I came to know who he was just as he was coming to know me—and it was no longer something that frightened me.
Later on, as I shared my deepest hurts, he supported me through my healing process as I began to get counseling and started to deal with my wounds. It took immense energy to begin healing from my traumas. I remember on more than one occasion he just held me and told me again and again that I had value, that I mattered. He was sincere and I knew he believed it even if at the time I couldn’t believe it myself (though eventually, after being treated with great dignity day after day for years, I did come to know it too).
Luckily, it didn’t take years to know that his love for me was real because Chris has always treated me with great respect.
I’m glad I decided to let him get to know the real me because it allowed me to get to know the real him. I came to know that he was in a different league than many other guys. It was true in the beginning and made him stand out above the rest, and it has been true every day since. Sometimes it even brings me to tears to think of how beautifully he continues to treat me.