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I sat there on the couch, my counselor across the coffee table from me. Her “office” didn’t feel like one. It felt more like my great aunt’s living room. Relaxed and inviting, warmly lit and messy. Imperfect.
“Solace?” She trailed off…. she took a breath, a big one. I could see her shoulders lift heavily upward, as she prepared for her next words.
She was going to ask me what I knew the conversation had been leading up to, the question I’d been dodging and moving away from.
“Solace, do you love your husband?”
She knows me, I thought to myself. She knows everything. I’ve told her all of my struggles, in life, relationships: the thoughts deep within my soul. I’d convinced myself over the years, that if anyone knew all she knew, I’d surely be unlovable. Like this room I sat in, I was messy and imperfect. I hated knowing that about myself.
I chuckled, “Of course!”
“Why?”, she asked.
“He’s a great dad and provider. We share similar values and our faith. We have the same life goals. We’ve built a life together that’s remarkable!!”
She wasn’t going to let me dodge any longer.
“Okay”, she said slowly, “you just outlined why you are compatible. You just told me you like the life you’ve built. But, do you love him?”
Mr. Solace travels two out of four weeks, on average, each month. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. But, he travels… a lot.
During this same conversation, my counselor asked me if I miss him when he travels. Of course I did, I said emphatically. I miss his help: I carry the load alone when he is away.
Again, she pegged me: but do you miss him. Did I still feel that ache I once felt early in our relationship, did I miss his presence, spending time with him: being around him?
I wasn’t sure.
Did I? Or did I just miss his help at bath time, with the dishes, and taking the trash cans to the curb? Did I miss him and love him or did I just miss his help?
I struggled with these questions for a number of weeks. I wrestled with them. I wanted my heart to feel that tug again.
Through the process of being mindful within our marriage, we’ve also become intentional about our time as a family and the core relationships of our unit of four.
We’ve started saying “no” a lot more. As a result, we’ve made space within our family for relationships and activities that feed us, sharpen us and rebuild our foundation.
We are getting to know each other again.
When Mr. Solace left recently for a two-week trip he said, “This last week has been remarkable. I’ve enjoyed you, the boys, our time together…
We’ve all been mentally and emotionally present and available. I think our work within ourselves individually is really starting to show…
By rebuilding our individual foundations and our marriage, I can see the fruits in our family relationships and our life.”
This was earth shattering. I was speechless, and my heart seemed to freeze in that moment, unable to beat. What Mr. Solace shared in this moment of vulnerability, from his heart, floored me.
He was right. We were both more present and intentional. Mindful in our interactions. Protective of our time and the priority of our family. We stopped worrying about expectations of outside influences and instead started to focus inward.
Weeks later, there I sat again, in the same warmly lit room.
My counselor, in her chair, sipping hot tea. She asked the same question she always did, “So, what’s been going on with you?”
“Mr. Solace is traveling again; he left last Friday. So, you know, just the normal day to day routine, now.
Nothing major….”, I answered. “Well, actually….there was this one thing that happened.”
“Okay? Tell me about it…”
“Well, I went for a run on Saturday. Since Mr. Solace is traveling it was just me running and pushing the stroller. You know, zoning out.
Before Mr. Solace left we’d had a really amazing week as a family; we both agreed it felt rich and full. It was entirely about being together and enjoying each other.
I was just thinking about the week as I ran, and then I passed this couple pushing a stroller together. They were talking, I think they were drinking coffee and just clearly taking the Saturday morning slowly, together. And…”
I trailed off. I knew it was coming. An unfamiliar feeling washed over me, tears welled up, my heart beat a little quicker, and my voice trembled.
“And….I missed him. I wished in that moment more than anything in the world that he had been there. With me. I missed him.”
I cried. And as those hot tears rolled down my cheeks, my heart in a moment of pure joy, leapt.
I missed him. I loved him. I felt joy again….I felt the tug.
Friends, marriage is work and it is ongoing. The process of rediscovering the love I have for my husband isn’t something I could calendar out, it’s not something that I add to a to-do list, or put on a timer.
It’s happened as I’ve chosen to make my husband and our marriage a priority, a mindful and intentional priority.
I’ve decided to keep up the fight, to continue to persevere through the good and bad days. Remembering to stop and recognize the joy I feel in loving my spouse, and I can finally say it aloud.
I love you deeply Mr. Solace. Thank you for sticking with me.
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A Little Cup of Solace has been married to her ever-patient partner in crime for 10 years. They are tired and often overwhelmed parents of two beautiful, precocious, (and very active) little boys. In her spare time, (which in reality is never), she enjoys cooking, working out, and organizing all. the. things. “I’m not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” -Abraham Lincoln
The author has also written, Things I’m Afraid to Say Aloud