I Thought I was a Good Lover

a column about love

After 30 years, I thought I was a good lover.

I thought I was kind, loving, thoughtful, non-judgmental, accepting, patient, and knew how to put up with someone’s ups and downs over and over and over, without turning my back on them.  I gave so much of myself to my relationships.  I thought I was doing my part.

But during that marriage, I realized there was something really wrong with the way I loved.

It was subtle and beneath the surface.  But oh so crucial.

I was too often basing my self-worth, my well-being and my happiness on my partner.

In other words, if he did not feel loving for a day or a week or a month or a year, I felt a sting.  I took his behavior personally.  And over time, my own sense of peace & wellness began to hang by a thread.  I would begin to question every bit of goodness that I had in me as it seemed it wasn't good enough for him.  I would even try to become a woman that he might love.  I tried to be someone different than I was.  Essentially, I was relying on him to hand to me approval, happiness, worth.  I was waiting for him to love me, so I could feel whole again.  Do any of you love in this way?  I have noticed that it is so common . . . perhaps it is even the norm.

Discovering this about myself has been one of the biggest life changers for me.   Every single day I am thankful for that experience and that I became aware that there was such a better way to live and a better way to show love.  It’s completely different.  And it’s so beautiful to me that I even started a blog called A BLOG ABOUT LOVE.  :)

And so, today I’ll pass along three ways I love differently . . . these made all the difference to me in my life then, as my 1st marriage was ending, and now, in my new, wonderful marriage:

-I take responsibility for my own self-worth and my own happiness.   I do not hand this over to anyone else to provide this for me, as it’s not their job.   So no matter how much I “love” someone, my self-worth and happiness is not dependent on them, their moods, or their behavior.  This lovingly relieves them of any pressure; it relieves them of the duty of being responsible for my happiness.  One really beautiful side effect?  I get to still have self worth and wellness and offer someone the best of myself, even if they are not having a good day.

-I have learned how to be at peace with my trials.  In fact, I embrace them.  I see them as a great opportunity to learn.  I view everything life throws at me, good and bad, as an opportunity to grow.  It’s really wonderful to learn how to do this.  And my motivation for doing this is love for my spouse and love for myself.  There’s nothing more wonderful than a partner who is full of positive energy and at peace with their lives, even in the face of a trial.

-I don’t view marriage as a place to get my needs fulfilled; I see it as a sacred place to carry out my own development as a person.   It’s a place to develop the attributes of love, kindness, hope, charity, etc.  These are the virtues I already want to develop in this lifetime.  And what a perfect place to develop them . . . in a marriage, with a man that I already want to love in the best way possible.

Over the years, have any of you learned some ways to love in a healthier way?  I’d love to hear.

(photo credit: Melanie Mauer