9 years ago, I was a single mom of a toddler, and I had just escaped an abusive relationship. I knew I wanted a better life for my son and me. I thought I knew exactly what that life would look like. I had a safe home for us, and a career I loved. Our basic needs were met and I was cautiously dating again. With dating, I envisioned a specific kind of love. A love where my partner would post lovingly about me on social media, a love where I would be treated to nights out, delicious dinners, and dates well into married life. A love where my partner would surprise me with flowers and gifts, just because, and a love with lots of verbal affirmation. This was the love I thought I deserved.
When I met my current husband, he checked all the standard boxes. We had similar interests, he had a good career, he had his own place, his own car, minimal debt, and he loved my son. *Swoon*. I was sure he would give me the love I deserved. And he has.
But my husband’s love doesn’t look much like the love I envisioned. It turns out, his love is even better.
For the first few years, yes years, I kept looking for “a, b, and c,” or the certain, specific ways I envisioned my husband’s love would look. When I didn’t see it exactly the way I imagined it should be, I began to brew resentment. Why wasn’t he loving me the way I deserved to be loved? That very specific way that I never even asked of him in calm moments, because I thought he should just know. When we would argue, I would throw out, “Why do you never send me flowers? Do you not love me!?” He would always respond, “Of course I love you, I wish you could see it.”
I wish I could’ve seen then what I am able to see now. I see now, the way my husband loves me is “x, y, and z.” When I finally started looking for “x, y, and z” and let go of my vision for “a, b, and c,” I was floored by how consistently, humbly, and deeply my husband had been loving me all along.
My husband’s love is sometimes similar to what I envisioned. But I have had to let go of my hope that he would be the exact way I envisioned. In the eight years we have been together, he has posted ONE time on his social media. He posted a picture of baby bunnies he found in our yard. He posted this before even telling me he saw them. To this day, I am floored. But I promise you, even if he loved those little bunnies, that Facebook post didn’t mean he loved them more than me. They were pretty cute though.
We do go on dates and trips. We certainly have had nice dinners. He has surprised me with an edible arrangement at work. While that is fun, and I do appreciate it, it doesn’t make me feel as deeply loved as I do when I experience “his” love.
Over the years, I have found my husband’s love is letting me sleep in most days while he gets up early with our kids.
His love is holding me while I sob after receiving bad news.
His love is leaving sticky notes with words of encouragement all over our house.
His love is reciting endless hockey stats in the OR when I asked him to talk to me because I was scared during the birth of our third child.
His love is standing with me when I challenge doctors and insurance companies, then driving 4 hours so we could get a second opinion.
His love is spending 30 minutes with me to help me process after an intense therapy appointment.
His love is cooking us dinner every night.
His love is booking an extra hour of ice time so we can skate together.
His love is making a courageous career leap so I could stay home with our kids.
His love is learning about emotions, and trauma so he can be a more supportive husband and father.
His love is creating a safe space for my son and me to heal.
His love is accepting how I show my love.
His love is constant, secure, and ever-deepening.
What his love is not, is forced.
This is why we do not celebrate Valentine’s day. When I envisioned the perfect love, I was doing a disservice to my husband. He is not good under romantic pressure (for work deadlines, however, he’s a machine!). Honestly, I’m not my best under romantic pressure either. I’m typically not a great gift-giver, and I crumble under the anxiety of expected behavior or acts. *cough* sex *cough*. My best memories with my husband haven’t been on any specific holiday or special event. I’ve discovered his love in every moment in between.Letting go of my expectations for Valentine’s Day and more allowed me to be enveloped with his warm, endearing love. My husband’s love doesn’t look like the love I envisioned, his love is even better than what I could have imagined.