I met a shitty husband last night.
And I liked him. First impressions go a long way with me.
And I don’t think he’s a bad guy. Not at all. But I do think he’s a shitty husband.
He’s 34 like me. He reminds me of me five years ago. He’s not a father, and that can be a disadvantage for guys from a maturation standpoint. Sometimes, you don’t really figure out what unconditional love looks and feels like until you hold your child.
And I think that revelation—that recognition of what it feels like to love something more than yourself—can be a very useful tool in a marriage.
Applying the Love for Your Children to Your Partner
Anyone who has ever been in a relationship for any reasonable amount of time understands the infatuation phase—while the most fun—can’t and won’t last.
Infatuation and lust will get you so far, then you’re inevitably looking to recreate that feeling with someone else sooner or later.
And sometimes, during the eternal pursuit of that next passionate romance, you just end up breaking a bunch of things.
But with a little self-recognition and awareness, we can combat this.
With the realization that the grass is most certainly not always greener—that there is no perfect partner with whom you’ll never have conflict or disappointment or hurt feelings or dissatisfaction—you can learn to stop trying to change your partner. Or change partners.
And you can start trying to change yourself.
There’s only one constant in the lives of those people you know who are constantly in and out of unhealthy relationships. And that’s the individual who keeps putting his or herself there.
They are the common denominator. And that cycle must be broken.
It can’t happen until those people learn how to be honest with others. And more importantly, with themselves.
Once we accept that it’s not going to be lovey-dovey happiness forever, we can move on to learning how to love in ways that matter. In ways that are sustainable.
1. Stop making it about you.
Stop asking why that person doesn’t make you feel the way they used to. Or why all of these things keep happening to you.
2. Make it about them.
Ask yourself how you can make your partner feel the way you want to feel. How you can make good things happen for them. Lead by example, even when it’s hard. Even when you don’t feel like it.
3. Choose to do that every day, forever.
The same way your parents did for you. The same way parents choose to do that for their children—even when they’re acting like little heathen assholes. THAT’S real love. Because it’s not about how we feel. It’s about the choices we make.
I’ve Already Seen This Movie
And it has a tragic ending.
That’s what I was thinking last night when I saw her being ignored by her husband. Literally, the entire night.
The birthday girl.
She looked magnificent. And I’m not sure he told her once.
She misses his company and attention because he has a pretty inconvenient work schedule. But I don’t remember him standing next to her.
I don’t remember him kissing her. Touching her arm. Whispering in her ear. Even just a nice smile from across the room to let her know how happy he was to see she was having a nice birthday.
I’ve seen this fucking movie.
I starred in it.
I played the male lead.
Because that was me. Not doing all of those things I so desperately wish I had the opportunity to do now.
I didn’t tell my ex how perfect she looked. Not enough. I didn’t make sure she knew—without a doubt—how much she was loved and wanted. I was too busy telling jokes and talking football with my friends when we’d all get together.
Guys, you have got to get better at this. I have got to get better at this, should I ever have the opportunity to try again some day.
Don’t do the thing where you ignore them all night and then try to have late-night drunk sex because you’re feeling horny. Please.
Just the smallest amount of effort can do wonders for her emotional security, which is directly correlated to how much she wants your penis touching her.
Tell her you love her. Whisper that you want her. Make eye contact from across the room. Smile. Touch her. Pay attention to her. Maybe when she least expects it.
Care about the things that she cares about—NOT because you give a shit about how her hair color didn’t turn out like she wanted or what color she painted her accent nail or whether she’s wearing new shoes or why she chose to carry that particular purse or handbag that night. Not because you like talking about the same things as her, because maybe you don’t.
Care about the things she cares about BECAUSE she cares about them. That’s the reason to care. That’s the reason it matters.
Because these things matter to her.
This applies to her hobbies. Her hopes and dreams. Her career. Her passions and interests. Her stories about her friends or family or coworkers that maybe you don’t really want to listen to.
Fortify your relationship by doing the little things. Every day.
Do that, and there will be an every day.
Don’t? You might be sitting right here feeling sorry for a birthday girl who deserves the world and an oblivious husband who doesn’t know the damage he’s causing.
Tequila Makes Me Smart
Ever drink a bunch of beer and vodka, and then switch to a perfect salted-rim margarita on the rocks and start solving the world’s relationship issues with a fellow divorcee from Scotland in an open-air rooftop bar?
Dear Jesus, you should hear me pontificate after eight or nine drinks.
The funny part? People think I’m smart! I con them with my above-average vocabulary and my cocksure attitude on subjects I may actually know nothing about.
I don’t know if any of this shit has merit. I don’t!
But, cocksure or otherwise, I do think I can identify the marital sins of my past. And I REALLY want to help men avoid going through what I’m going through. I REALLY want children to have the opportunity to grow up with both of their parents under the same roof.
This doesn’t have to be a pipedream. It doesn’t have to be so goddamn hard.
It just takes two people willing to give more than they take. Two people trying to out-give one another. Doesn’t that sound fun? Isn’t that something everyone can get behind?
My marital sins were on full display last night. The oblivious husband was me. And the birthday girl was my ex.
And it doesn’t have to be like this.
They are two good people. Two kind people.
She loves him.
And I don’t know for sure, but I just vibe that he’s a good man—a good man who loves her back.
And I know they can make it.
And I want them to make it.
And I believe if he only knew what I knew—felt what I felt—that he’d dig in and try his very best to make sure she felt the way she needs to feel for this to not fall apart.
If they can make this happen, maybe I can be at her birthday party 10 years from now. Maybe she’ll be smiling. Maybe he’ll be smiling. Maybe it will be at one another. Maybe everyone who sees it will privately Awwwwww. And maybe they can be what the rest of us envy.
Happily. Ever. After.
In real life, it doesn’t look like it does in the movies.
But it can be beautiful.
And I still believe in it.
Photo: Getty Images
Originally Published on Must Be This Tall To Ride