I remember the first date I had with the man who would become my husband. It was many years ago, but I still remember certain things like they happened yesterday. We were a fix-up by one of my friends.
While on the date, when the two of us were sitting at dinner, I listened to him talk about his children. He was separated and had two young ones, ages 6 and 9. I remember hearing about his wonderful parenting skills and how he loved his children. There was no bragging; in fact he was very humble. Even so, he seemed like a really good, loving person, a man I liked being close to.
I felt something different, and it felt important. But being in the dating world, which I had been for a while, I am sure my face revealed nothing about what I felt. I am sure I was just putting on a good face, doing that impressive thing I used to do to get someone to like me.
If we are in a relationship and we ask ourselves, “Am I good to my mate?” I believe most of us would answer “yes.” I believe that we all think we are kind and caring and we do things for the person we love. I think we would all say “yes” with confidence.
But when I ask myself this question too, I know inside of me there is a part that could be better. I know there are times when I am not communicative and I just don’t say anything. During those times I could tell my husband that I love him. Or what about those times when we get our feelings hurt and we don’t even like the person we are with at that moment? Sometimes I live there too.
Many times when I work with couples I hear them wishing they felt better. I feel their discomfort when they tell me about their partner and how they don’t feel loved. I empathize with the individuals who tell me how unhappy they are about feeling distant in their relationship.
These feelings are pretty common. And there are reasons why. When we fall in love with our special person everything feels better than it’s ever felt. We fall in love with that feeling and we hunger for it when it goes away.
In our relationships, the little things can mean a lot to us.
This morning as I was making my tea and waiting for it to brew, I thought “I have 3 minutes. I could empty the dishwasher.” So instead of taking the teapot into the other room and relaxing into my chair to begin my day, I started to put the dishes away. I believed I could finish it in that amount of time.
As I was bringing the glasses over to their cabinet I thought of how much my husband does for me. He was the one who loaded the dishwasher and started it. He was the one who cooked an amazing dinner the night before and because I was very tired he offered to do the dishes, (normally my job) for me.
All of us carry around a lot of feelings all the time. That’s just a characteristic of being human. Many of us carry around some deep love for our partners yet we don’t tell them about it. I am sometimes amazed during counseling sessions, when I will ask a man if he loves his girlfriend or wife and he’ll say, “Of course I do,” and then look over at her and say, “She knows that.”
He doesn’t tell her he loves her. He tells me he does and that she knows it. He accepts the fact that she already got his love declarations and assumes that’s all she needs. He already told her this and so it will always exist.
When I think about honesty in relationships, I am talking about expressing our emotional truth. When I see this in a counseling session I always feel something, like I am sharing a moment that is very special and pure.
I had the pleasure of helping a couple recently. It’s clear they love each other, but they were both exhausted trying to get love from each other. They were angry and were extremely unhappy too.
Having an argument with the person we love is one of the most difficult events we can go through in a relationship. When we are not upset, our special person is our favorite individual. We love them. When we get our feelings hurt, or we get misunderstood or get angry at them, they turn from our loving soulmate to someone we war with.
And when we get pulled into an argument with our loved one it doesn’t matter what came before the argument. It doesn’t matter that we get along most of the time. It doesn’t matter that we had a great day just a few minutes before. All that matters is that we are hurt, feel unloved and now we are MAD!
I know every time I am feeling good and I say yes to something I always feel better. It’s as if good positive energy becomes bigger. I noticed this recently when I was reading an article about humans and their pets.
A recent study talked about how when pet owners look into the eyes of their pet, both animal and human get a dose of the pleasure hormone in their bodies. That hormone is called dopamine. And it happens naturally when we are engaged with our pet at a deep level.
When we think of saying I love you to someone we certainly don’t think that I am sorry belongs in the same category. In our heads they seem far apart. One is an expression of our truest most wonderful feelings for a special person. The other is said when we think we might have hurt someone and we want to make it better.
So what would tie the two together? Before we see the connection I want to talk about how we learn each concept. The loving sentiment we might have heard from our parents when we were small. We might have heard them say, “I love you.” We might have been encouraged as children to say it to others, maybe grandparents or other relatives, and we probably heard it from them. We learn this is a good thing to say. Maybe we learn it’s just for families.