When you fall in love with another person, the way you look at life changes. You often put the person you love before yourself. You make sacrifices to make them happy, but it’s all worth it if it means you can learn and grow together. Whether we are looking for love or not, we often find ourselves falling into it when we least expect it.
Sometimes, though, life can take even another turn you didn’t expect. After falling in love, maybe after years of companionship, you feel your connection fading away. Instead of feeling warm and safe when the other person is near, you might begin to feel distant. Maybe they no longer make you smile, and you fight about things you didn’t use to.
It can be very difficult to know what the right thing is to do in the face of a dwindling love. We wonder where we went wrong, and question if we could have stopped it. Do we try to get back what we once had, or do we just let go of something that no longer works? One story has been making its way around the internet that begs a similar question.
Making A Change
The story goes that a man slowly fell out of love with his wife, and asked for a divorce. Though she was heartbroken, the man’s wife agreed with a few conditions. She asked him to give her one month before the divorce to pretend everything was normal. Her other request was that her husband carry her to their bedroom each night for that month, just like he had done on the night of their wedding. Confused, but willing, the mad agreed to his wife’s requests.
The man discovered the new ritual returned a level of closeness and affection that had been missing from their marriage for years. Holding her in his arms every night reminded him a little of what made him fall in love with her in the first place. He also began to notice his wife losing weight, presumably from the grief of their impending divorce. As he noticed these changes in her he began to question his decision to leave her.
In the end, the man decided to give their love and marriage another chance. At the end of the month, he returned home to tell her his decision but was met with tragedy instead. While they had been distant from each other, his wife had been hiding her battle with cancer from him. When he got home, found that his wife had passed away. Her last wish had simply been to have her husband still with her in her final days.
Communication is Key
Whether the story is true or not, this modern parable gives us something to reflect on. What could have prevented so much sadness in the case of this man and his wife? A short answer: communication. The man in the story might have witnessed withdrawal and depression coming over his wife. What were really signs of her illness, he may have interpreted it as lack of affection toward him. In turn, he responded by detaching from her. She might have just been taking time to find the words to tell him about her sickness. However, his detachment may have left her feeling confused, alone, and not able to tell him.
The man could have taken note of his wife’s changed behavior and asked her what was wrong. Doing so might have given her the courage to confide in him about her cancer. She might have noticed him pulling away and reached out to give him a better idea of what she was experiencing. Simply talking to one another when they noticed things changing in their marriage might have given each the opportunity to correct their course.
Communication is one pillar of the foundation of every relationship. Communication is what allows marriages and relationships to last, even if partners are not immediately happy. The ability to go to your partner and express your pain to them gives them a chance to respond to it. Otherwise, partners are left guessing, making assumptions, and losing touch with each other.
In her book Rising Strong, author Brene Brown offers a simple answer to increase communication and make relationships last. When you detect changes in your significant other or find yourself unsure about their words or intentions, Brown suggests you approach them with a very simple phrase. “The story I’m making up is…”
Brown says, “Basically, you’re telling the other person your reading of the situation — and simultaneously admitting that you know it can’t be 100% accurate.” (1) She explains that this not only opens up a dialogue with the other person, but it encourages vulnerability from both parties. It shows your commitment to finding out what the problem is. It also proves to the other person that you are already willing to be wrong about your perception. It might just be the magic phrase that gives your partner the courage to be honest with you.
When you are the one to open communication, you give your partner safety and security in their emotions. More than that, you give them safety in the relationship. After all, what is love if not being completely safe and secure with another person? Even when the waters are rough, you’d be surprised how much two people can push through together as long as they have each other to talk to.