Ben and I have been married 11 years now. While I know that’s not that long, it is plenty long enough to know what ebbs and flows feel like in a long term relationship.
The flows are certainly more “fun”: we’re getting plenty of sleep, eating clean, and drinking more tea than tequila (which is arguably not more “fun”, but feels way better the next morning).
It’s also when I feel like we’re holding each other in the kitchen out of nowhere more often, saying “I love you” at all the right moments…not so much that it loses meaning, but not so little that you start wondering things you wish you weren’t wondering.
It’s when we’re busy all day doing the things we’re both individually passionate about, living out our own dreams, but can’t feel fully satisfied until we can share our stories with each other. We don’t “need” one another, but we are very much dependent on each other for feeling true fulfillment.
And, it’s when I’m, literally, sitting there thinking to myself, “What did I do to deserve this man?” I’m thinking about how this is the relationship I’ve dreamt of since I was a little girl…where I can’t imagine it being any better, but somehow I know that I will feel the same every day I wake up next to him.
I would be a fraud, however, if I tried to give the impression that there are never ebbs…if I pretended like I never had doubts about whether my husband still thinks I’m attractive, wondered why it feels like we have nothing to talk about, or wished he seemed as excited to see me at the end of the day as he is to see the kids.
What I’m coming to understand more as I take a step back and look at our relationship as an observer, versus a pawn in the game, is this: it is entirely in my control, and on me, to create more flows than ebbs.
If “the way” is to give out to the universe what we ultimately want to receive, our relationship cannot grow by me sitting around waiting for it to happen. And, I cannot control internal worries with external fixes like losing weight or wearing sexier clothing, chattering about superficial things that have no real depth, or acting passive aggressive and expecting him to read my mind about feeling neglected.
Rather, I need to show Ben how much I still love the sight of his face, the sound of his voice, and the look in his eyes that made me fall in love with him from the beginning. I need to explore the world, learn about things that teach me new philosophies, and sit in silence with myself so I can discover who I really am…all so that I can create interesting new topics for us to talk and get excited about. And, I need to let go of my inhibitions and show him how I am excited like a dog for him to get home every night instead of acting like I barely notice or am too busy to care.
As with all things in life, I believe I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate the power of the flows if it were not for the ebbs that challenge me to find a higher ground…to elevate me above what I know to already to exist.