Shortly after I was married, I felt the first claws of resentment reaching into my heart because my husband just didn’t love me like I deserved to be loved. I decided that in order to move forward, we should air our frustrations. We sat together with our own notebooks and wrote out each grievance line by line. Jon began to write…and write…and write…and with each stroke of his pen, I became more and more irritated and began to write just as furiously.
He filled a page, and I filled a page. He filled another and I kept in step. Finally out of things to complain about, I put down my pen and he did the same. We traded notebooks and to my horror, I read several pages of “I love you. I love you. I love you.” And to my shame, he read a barrage of accusations against him.
My husband may not have loved me liked I deserved to be loved, but then I didn’t love him like he deserved to be loved either. And most of the time, I still don’t. Next month, Jon and I will celebrate 26 years of marriage. Some of those years have been full of fun and movie-screen romance and some have been filled with hurt, disappointment, and the sheer determination to make it through no matter what.
Through it all, I’ve learned that the greatest destroyer of genuine love in my marriage is a spirit of entitlement rather than a spirit of gratitude. Yes, I have inestimable value. Yes, I am worthy of love. But entitlement to anything makes me a taker, while gratitude makes me a giver. Focusing on what I deserve leaves me wanting, while focusing on what I can offer satisfies me.
I don’t know how it works, but gratitude somehow multiplies my blessings and shrinks my longings. I’m also still learning that the more I appreciate and love Jon, the more easily he can reciprocate that.
I wish I could say I have perfected gratitude. Unfortunately, there are still days I grumble and think he just doesn’t love me like I deserve to be loved, but then I remember this: Love is a choice and, each day, Jon still chooses me. He has done so for 9,449 days and I know he will continue to do so until the day he dies. That alone is reason enough to be incredibly grateful.