Last week I ran into the spouse of one of my BFF’s. They are currently separated, at her request. The only impediment to their divorce is her inability to afford a lawyer.
He wants them to get back together, and he took the opportunity to plead his case. He has 3 reasons for them to get back together. The reasons are:
- he never cheated on her
- he’s a good guy
- he loves her
As I was leaving he asked me to put in a good word for him, and to tell her he loves her. Since she sometimes reads this blog I just did what he asked.
I planned to forget the whole encounter until I saw the video I’ve (hopefully) included as a link here. It got me to wondering – how does one prove they love someone?
If I were able to go back to the time I spent with him, here is what I would say.
Love is not spoken. Love is shown. Every day, in the smallest of actions, we prove we love those around us. Every day, in the smallest of actions, we prove we don’t love those around us. There are no grand gestures or mawkish declarations that will undo years of behavior demonstrating your lack of love. Love is not repaired in a day, a week, a month. Love is earned. The love of a good woman is earned. Slowly and methodically. In the end, it is really quite simple to prove your love…..if you really feel it.
If I were able to speak to him again, here is what I would tell him to do.
- Stop saying you love her. She does not believe you, and she does not care.
- Stop showing up at her house uninvited. Stop walking in whenever you want to, wreaking havoc on her life.
- Stop asking her to go out with you, to do things with you and the kids, to spend any time at all with you.
- Stop grandstanding in front of others. Every time you show up with things for the kids that she hasn’t asked for, you put one more notch in your noose.
- Spend time with your children. Demonstrate, through your unwavering, constant time and efforts with your children, that you are capable of mature love.
- Stop “explaining” how much worse her life will be without you. Stop with your transparant threats regarding her financial ruin if she fails to play by your rules.
- Stop calling, texting and emailing her. Stop all contact that is not 100% necessary.
- Stop asking her to go the therapy.
Now that we’ve covered what you should not do, let’s talk about what you should do.
- Pay the bills. Acknowledge the fact that while you were “working your ass off to provide for her” she was working her ass off raising your children. Acknowledge the fact that her contribution is not less than yours, it is actually more than yours. You got to take off and hang with grownups, while earning a paycheck. She got to sit at home wrangling 7 children all by herself, and getting paid nothing. (&, by the way, in addition to the earnings she gave up, her social security benefit is now lower) She is the one who hasn’t gone to the bathroom alone for 15 years, not you. And, since you are now getting your back up at the suggestion that you owe her, hear this: YOU OWE HER. If I need to elaborate more on this, walk away, because you don’t really love her.
- Honor her requests. If she says “don’t call me at work” don’t call her at work. If she says “don’t stop by the house unless you’ve cleared it with me” don’t stop by the house unless you’ve cleared it with her. This is loving by example. This says to her “I love you enough to do as you request”.
- Take care of your responsibilities. Take care of the lawn, home maintenance, running the kids around. This is not a “favor” to her; this is your responsibility.
- Support her in the things that drive her passion. Has she taken on a cause she believes in? Guess what – you believe in it too. Is she taking it too far? Guess what – so are you. Her passion is your passion.
- Ask her what she needs, then provide it. Does she need a grocery store run? Do it, drop it off at the house, and leave. Does she need you to take care of one of the kids for the day? Do it. And, don’t expect a thank you. Do you thank her for doing laundry? Do you thank her for feeding your 7 children? Do you thank her for vacuuming, handling all the Dr. appointments, checking homework every day? No. Nor does she expect you to. Likewise, don’t expect her to thank you for doing the right thing. Period. And, don’t expect her to thank you for paying the bills. That is your job. Just do it.
- Go to therapy. Prove to her that you love her enough that you are willing to work on your own issues, regardless of what she is doing. Prove that you will change, because you love her.
In the end, one of 2 things will happen.
- She might take you back. If you do all that I’ve written, you might just convince her you love her. In doing that, she might reconnect with the love she once felt for you.
- You will realize that you can never get her back. You will however, make a peaceful, productive, satisfying life for both of you and your children. She might be willing to stand next to you at weddings and funerals. She might even go to dinner with you and the kids on special occasions. She might invite you over for holidays. In exchange, you will have learned what it means to love. And who knows, maybe someday you will find someone else who wants to love you also.