We had been on our honeymoon for almost a week and it had been absolutely wonderful. Still, while my brand new husband and I were soaking in a hot tub, I felt unhappy. Something didn’t feel like enough, not enough time left on our honeymoon most likely. My husband, David, didn’t understand why—and to tell you the truth I didn’t really know why either. But I blamed David for not loving me well enough. That night, we ended up cutting our hot tub time short because our conversation turned into an argument.
The view from our bed and breakfast featured a beautiful view of picturesque farmland and rolling hills, a bubbling Jacuzzi lit with romantic candles, handcrafted furniture, and the perfect reading nook. And we were so in love. It was about as perfect as anyone could ever expect. But looking back on that night in the hot tub, I realize that my bad mood might have had something to do with some pretty unreasonable expectations I had set for how our honeymoon would feel.
The truth is, when I impose unrealistic expectation on my husband—like my day dream honeymoon—I’m not really loving him, I’m loving the ideal experience I had hoped he would give me. It’s easy to use someone, even when you want so badly to love him or her well. On that night during our honeymoon—without even realizing it—I had made David a prop, a character in my perfect narrative. Instead, I needed to remember that he was a co-author of the life story we were writing together.
At the beginning of our relationship my love for David was based heavily on how he made me feel. But in order for my love to last it needed to grow into a love that was based on my willing the best for him, regardless of how I feel. I’m still working on this and I fail in some way or another every day. But instead of complaining and blaming my husband for my every unhappiness, I want to show him love no matter how I’m feeling—that’s what “marital bliss” really mean.
- Some days that means making an extra cup of coffee for both of us instead of complaining to David about how tired I am (because the truth is that he was up with the baby, too, and is just as tired).
- Some days that means not talking in that tone of voice when he makes a mistake or doesn’t know how to do something (hey, at least he is trying to make dinner, even if it is just spaghetti with jarred sauce!).
- Most days it means asking myself, “Am I loving David in this moment, or am I grasping on to my own unrealistic expectations?”
On our fifth wedding anniversary we found ourselves at another charming bed and breakfast, with a picturesque view of the mountains, a cozy reading nook, and two rocking chairs where we could sit side by side like an old married couple.
And yet somehow, I felt unhappy.
I complained that our two month old was with us, that he wasn’t falling asleep, that it was a waste to get such a nice place if we couldn’t really enjoy it. There I was again, five years later, making the same mistakes: I wasn’t loving David well. I was loving some ideal experience that he was expected to provide for me and clinging to it like a tantrum-ridden toddler.
Thankfully, I now recognize what I’m doing a little quicker than I did five years ago. I apologized and David and I shared a laugh about how far—and not far—we’ve come in five years.