Cultivating Love.

August 8, 2014 at 7:28 am | Posted in Choosing Happiness., Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy), Intention (Living)., Marriage, Mindful., My life, Stuff Outta My Head | 7 Comments

It’s really hard sometimes to write when you have all this STUFF swirling around in your head and heart.

But it’s been like this for a while now, and I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon, so I really want to try to make sense of things.

So that’s your fair warning: this post will likely be disjointed and maybe won’t have a point. And it might be boring or ridiculous. But I’m going to write it down, because I really, really, want to start writing more.

And the only way to write more is to write more, right?

*    *    *    *

I’ve been working with my current therapist now for three years. Three years of weekly appointments, and I’m only JUST feeling like we’re getting below the surface anxiety into what makes me tick.

One of the things I’ve been noticing lately is that I am very closed off in my marriage. I spend time DOING things for Charlie to show him I love him. Whenever the gas in his car is low, I fill it. I create our weekly dinner menu with his preferences in mind. I will run at 4 in the morning or 10 at night in order to get more family time in on a given day. I take care of as much of the family stuff as I can – vet and doctor appointments for Lucky, school stuff, making lunches, bus dropoff/pickup – so that Charlie has one less thing to stress about.

But when it comes to showing my husband love and affection, I am a freaking Scrooge. I hide behind stress and anxiety, I keep myself busy so I don’t have to take time out to hug.

I’ve JUST noticed it, quite honestly: the way I am clipped and stressed whenever he arrives home from work, or how I find things to get annoyed over, like lights left on, when I arrive home when they are home. How I bury myself in my task list, the computer, my phone, laundry. It’s like I find excuses and justification to stay closed off, ways to avoid connecting with him.

I think it’s because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that Charlie, with his high blood pressure and ridiculous stress levels, is a heart attack waiting to happen. What happens if I really allow myself to love him, to rely on him, and he dies suddenly on me? How will I survive?

Or maybe I’m afraid of relying on him too much, where my need becomes another stressor for him, and all of a sudden he realizes he can’t deal with the energy suck of his wife anymore.

Or maybe I’m worried that he’ll disappoint me. What if I rely on him and he can’t be there?

Or maybe it’s none of these things. I don’t honestly know why I’m so scared, why I am so stingy with showing love and affection.

What I know is that it needs to change.

*    *    *    *

I listen to audiobooks on my long ass commute into Boston; I download them to my phone from the library. It’s a great way to pass the time stuck in traffic, provided the book is a good one.

The one I’m listening to now? It’s a good one. It’s this one – a true story about the chaplain of the Maine Warden Service. Listening to her story, told from her viewpoint, I can only marvel at her openness and love. And her faith, or non-faith.

How is it, after losing her husband in an accident, and working search-and-rescues and seeing all facets of death, she can be so enthusiastic, open, and loving?

And if she can do it, can I as well?

*   *   *   *

Written in Athena for the month of August is this: Cultivate Love.

I’m starting simply.

Next week we are heading to my happy place – the cabin on the lake. I’m going to disconnect from the internet. No Facebook, no email, no running board, no Myfitnesspal. I’m bringing paper plates and bowls, and bottles of wine and board games and cribbage and royalty.  I’m going work on cultivating a connection between us and with the three of us as a family. And when I find myself getting stressed or anxious, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and hug someone.

And when we get back, I’m going to kiss my husband goodbye and hello every day. I’m going to take a moment every day, when he walks through the door, to greet him and welcome him home.

When Lucky tells me he’s cold and wants to sit on my lap, or wants me to stop what I’m doing to watch him do something, or he wants me to sit with him and watch a TV show, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and be with him, in the moment.

THIS is my family, right here, right now. And I love them so much and am so grateful I have Charlie and Lucky and Happy in my life.

And I need to learn how to open up more.



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  1. Good for you for identifying this and acting on it. Have you read “The 5 Languages of Love?” It was really eye opening and helped me understand that D. wasn’t being unreasonably needy when he expressed his own needs for affection — he and I do not have the same love language for giving or receiving, and often they are in conflict. Great book! Also, I like “The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work,” although it is unsettling. There’s a long checklist of who does what around the house and for the family, and I’ve referred back to it many times after falling into the common wife/mom martyrdom trap.

    One thing that I think is so hard about parenting is that when you’re often looking down, at a child, it’s hard to look outward or across the room. Sometimes I feel that D. is in my peripheral vision. No wonder he feels tuned out — he actually is, often. : (

    Have a good vacation. I immensely enjoyed my 2-week FB break!

  2. Could it also be that you were never shown the way to be affectionate? While I do believe that humans need touch to live, some don’t know how to. My parents never showed me affection much less each other, yet somehow, I know how to and make it a point to. Hell, even if we’re not having sex consistently, the affectionate touching remains. But, that didn’t come naturally to my husband and it is something that he’s had to work on (he is still working on being comfortable with PDA and we’ve been together 14 years!).

    I think that with MANY things we’d like to change in our lives, it starts with one step and I think that you’ve got a solid game plan. In addition to him reaping the rewards of feeling connected to you via your approach to him, I bet YOU are going to be the greater beneficiary.

    It is really hard, as a Type-A personality, to not be consumed with DOING instead of BEING (you and I have chatted about this before, I think). I’ve learned two tid-bits along my motherhood journey that I *try* to stick to, one is easier than the other, but still: even though it naturally occurs, I make sure my face still lights up when my child enters the room or when I enter his room (and that may mean picking him up from school or camp or a play date or whatever). I’m going on 7y5m of doing this with H, and it turns my own bad or grumpy moods right around if I need to check myself as a reminder to do it. And, secondly, I *try* to spend 15 mins of every hour when we are together being fully present with/to my kids. It might be helpful for me to do this with my husband when the kids go to bed, too. Thanks for that reminder 🙂

  3. This wasn’t a disjointed post at all – I think it is great you are recognizing something and taking steps to try to change it. Made perfect sense. I think I have the same problem with my husband actually.

  4. Not disjointed, just a spilling over out of a brain. I love the idea of pausing to hug when you’re feeling stressed. Or even taking it a step further and telling someone else, “I need a hug.” Which opens up a conversation too.

    Have a wonderful trip!

  5. Wow I could’ve written a lot of this. Being open doesn’t come naturally to me, nor does touching. It takes a LOT of work and effort to remember to hug my husband or give him a kiss. I don’t know why its not effortless, but its not for me. I also tend to bury myself in busyness, in getting things done for the family, to the exclusion of really BEING THERE with the family. I vowed to my kids that I’d sit and watch a movie with them this weekend—but I always SAY I will, but then use that time to get stuff done without them underfoot. I can’t relax when there are things to be done. I love your idea to give someone a hug when you’re stressed!

  6. Great post. I was also going to mention the “Love Languages” book. Sounds like we both have the same love language, doing things for the ones we love. I also recognize in me that I get cranky with my loved ones about the things we need to get done. I keep working on that too. Good luck and enjoy your vacation!

  7. […] Serenity Now! […]

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