Had a conversation with my husband last night. He was finally honest with me about how my friendship with a guy made him feel. After a lot of listening, I told him to turn it around: when he was grieving his sister and father, I was feeling the way he’d been feeling. But instead of months, it was years. Instead of jealousy, I was burdened with isolation and extreme pressure. It’s not a competition, and there’s no blame. Only perspective and empathy and understanding. I explained that the friendship met a need for me that he wasn’t able to meet, my husband relied on me for everything for so long that my friendship with this man that didn’t rely on me for anything, filled a void.
I think my husband is finally ready to fill that gap again. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m so proud of his personal growth and vulnerability…I wasn’t sure I’d ever see it, but I guess we all have setbacks before we leap forward…
It seems only fitting that I write this today, after all it’s our 19th wedding anniversary.
He’s always been wonderful, spoils me, gives me room to be me, and makes me feel loved. But this last year, maybe longer, he’s been especially…adaptive, flexible, appropriately responsive, and steady (among other things, but these are the words I choose to add today).
In the interest of keeping this post from being reallllllly long, I’m going to make a list of issues and his responses as opposed to telling about each mini crisis…but if there’s anything you’re wondering, please comment, and as always, feel free to share any of my posts that you feel may reach someone!
- Miscarriage: my last one threw me into a downward spiral, and he could tell I needed to brood. He gave me space to do that. He also gave me room to cry and be cranky without taking it personally.
- Many naps: Depression can make you sleepy, and many evenings and weekends, I would disappear to my room to take a nap. This often meant he was doing dinner and the kid on his own, which wasn’t typical, but he never complained. He would wake me for dinner occasionally or wake me to do my evening meds, and he never made me feel bad about it.
- Avoiding gatherings: whenever I felt like skipping a nieces birthday party or dinner with my folks, he would always make me feel okay about it and go on his own. It was just what I needed. He always made the appropriate excuses or apologies for me, and never made me feel like I was doing something wrong.
- Depression: the loss of interest and apathy, he always tried to be honest without being selfish or manipulative or shaming. He was open to suggestions and discussion or silence and inaction.
- Therapy appointments and bills: He worries about money, it’s just how he is wired, but from the very beginning, he never once complained about the cost of therapy and medications that I’ve needed. He has been incredibly supportive of my therapy appointments and subsequent need for a nap or a good cry afterwards.
- New friendship with a guy: This is the big one, because for some reason, this guy I became friends with was able to reach me in a way my husband couldn’t. I had been down for a long time, sleepwalking through my life after my best friend passed. And though Phil supported me the best he could at the time, it was someone outside of our daily life that was able to reach me. And it was weird for Phil at first, I was so excited to have a new friend that made me think and feel things again, that it came across as something else…he would tease me about having a boyfriend, but I always knew I could be honest with my husband and I was. I said, “yes, it seems like that to you, but it’s a nice feeling to know that someone, who isn’t in my circle of responsibility, wants to hear what I have to say.” I reminded him that the flirty side he said he saw was just excitement at the thought of a new friend, since I’ve always struggled with friendships in the past. My amazing husband accepted that, said it was still weird to him but ok. He was okay that this man, who wasn’t him, helped me feel engaged in my life, he was okay that this man helped me to see I needed therapy, and he was okay that I leaned on someone else for awhile. He was even okay when I was sad that this friend hurt my feelings. And he was even okay when I talked about how my friends wife was jealous of our friendship. My husband empathized with her situation, but still gave me room to have him in my life.
And in turn for all of his adaptations and patience, I’m getting better all the time. Giving me all that support made it possible to move through some darkness and walk out into the light feeling strong and well. Our relationship is steadily improving, not that it wasn’t good, but after all these years, it’s important to reconnect. We are preparing for next years big anniversary with a party, and we are both happier and focusing on us again. He’s amazing and I’m grateful for the wonderful partner that I have by my side.