These days I look at my husband a little differently.
As I've made it my goal to learn more about love, my heart has been opened to see and understand things maybe a little more clearly. I have spent a serious amount of time missing the mark, regretting the foolishness of my choice. I have cast spotlights on his faults, and pitied myself for falling victim to them. Then, I read in M. Catherine Thomas' Spiritual Lightening,
"...the hope of making a better match is an illusion because, unless the other spouse is guilty of serious sin, the real problem is in the unsatisfied partner. [Her] search for something better reveals a mistaken approach to marriage. [She] is focusing on what [she] wants out of the marriage, rather than what [she] has failed to put into it. . .True love is not governed by feeling. The person who truly loves does so because he or she chooses to love. True love is a decision."
God knows the desires of our hearts, even before we have become fully aware of them. He prepares ways to answer prayers long before they've been uttered. Because He knew that I would come to desire a loving heart, He guided me to be in the perfect relationship to teach me, and then He patiently waited while I figured out that I am the one who determines how much love I feel, by how much love I give. It's almost immaterial who's on the receiving end.
My growth comes from accepting my husband's journey, as equally as I accept my own, and holding them both as sacred and fragile. My growth comes when I trust that because I am a covenant keeping daughter of God, He would not let me make a choice that would not be a blessing for me. I can relax into the tutorial I find myself in, and rejoice in the fact that I now see, rather than begrudge all the years that I was blinded. Adam is perfectly designed to help me grow spiritually, and that is the purpose of this life.
Love is a choice, and an action at that. I realize that I am much happier when I am love-ing, than when I am being loved. The level that I feel love has to do with my connection to the Source of love, and my willingness to radiate it through me. Some people may be blessed to have easier marriages than others. Some couples may have that 'soulmate' quality of compatibility. I do not. But the purpose of marriage is to develop character, even to Godliness, and the schoolroom must be perfectly designed for each student to accomplish that goal.
Thomas also writes, "Oneness, by the way, doesn't mean thinking and feeling the same way about everything; rather, it has to do with being dedicated to encouraging one another's spiritual growth, having reverence for one another's individuality, and coming together into oneness of heart with the Lord's purposes. True marriage is spiritually based. We may have hoped by finding a "soulmate" to gain confirmation of what we already are when we marry. But what we need when we marry is to develop along lines we may not yet foresee. Thus, instead of marrying a soulmate we marry a unique person and embark on learning to become a soulmate."
I have spent too much time feeling cheated, and in the process have cheated myself.
Adam and I were led to each other. Though our relationship has been fraught with trial and adversity, hostility, loneliness, and blame, I now accept that he was not brought to me to satisfy me or my needs, but for me to love tenderly through our life experiences. We have overcome so very much, and still have miles to go. I cannot see down the road, but I am content that for however long we share it, whether that be years or eternity, I am at my best when I am loving him.
I believe that not just individuals, but that marriages, can be healed. I believe in blessings made available to those who do not quit, even when every qualified person tells them they should. I believe that one can change the past by changing the present. I believe that the love I feel is in direct proportion to the love I give, and neither one has anything to do with the person I am loving. I believe that real love isn't the stuff of romance, and that hearts have everything to do with love, but just maybe not the way that Valentine cards would have you believe.
It is my privilege to love Adam. It is part of my life's work, because the way that I love him has everything to do with how I shape my soul. He is a gift to me, and though we are a work in progress, far from perfection, I am grateful.
On Valentine's Day, and always, the journey is the blessing.