**This post was written about thirteen months into my amazing marriage... I laugh a little at my new wife beliefs, but at the same time, the stretching, growing pains of learning to love another person never really go away. Selfless love is always a conscious, beautiful, sometimes ginger-ale-filled process.
Also, my husband kept his schedule on an iPod?!**
I get sick a lot.
A combination of a weak stomach (hello, ulcerative colitis!) and absolutely no bravado, means that about once a week, all I want to do is curl up on the couch and say "Goodbye, world!"
When we first got married, Scott knew about these episodes. He had been present when one landed me in the hospital, so he was no stranger to my suffering. As such, I thought he was privvy to the private code of the patient.
"I'm not feeling well" = the hubby should come home early, first stopping to pick up chicken noodle soup, a chick-flick with Katherine Heigl, and a big, huge bottle of Ginger-Ale.
But he didn't pick up on the code.
After the first few dozen disapointments, I realized that I was expecting my husband to read my mind. So, being the loving wife that I am, I decided to spell it out a little more clearly...
"Honey, I'm not feeling well... Ginger-Ale would be nice."
He still didn't get it. Granted, it was one text in the sea of 100-or-so that I send him that day, but he didn't grab my desperate need for Ginger-Ale even when I spelled it out.
Well, I'm an understanding, long-suffering lil' wifey. My desire is to help my husband. So I mobilized an ad-campaign via text messaging during the next sick day:
"My tummy hurts. Ginger-Ale is yummy."
"When we were sick, my mom would let us have Ginger-Ale as a treat."
"I love Ginger-Ale."
"Have you ever noticed how soothing Ginger-Ale is when you have a sick tummy?"
"Don't you just think Ginger-Ale is amazing?"
"My goodness, Ginger-Ale would sure taste refreshing."
"My poor tummy needs Ginger-Ale."
Yes. I probably over-did it. But, after all, it was loving of me, because I wanted my husband to succeed!
That night, he walks through the door. Empty handed.
"Honey, where's the Ginger-Ale?"
He looks nonplussed: "Ginger-Ale?"
"Yes, please... my tummy has been hurting."
"Oh Courtney, I'm sorry. I didn't know you wanted me to pick up Ginger-Ale."
At which point, I'm ashamed to say, I lost it:
"How could you not know that I wanted to you get Ginger-Ale!?!"
"Sweetie, you never texted me asking me!"
"What!?! I think I probably referenced Ginger-Ale FIFTY TIMES today!" (A lack of Ginger-Ale makes me a smidge dramatic.)
He pulls out his phone, "Oh, these texts? Yes, I understood you like Ginger-Ale, but you never asked me to get you any."
I bury my head in my pillow, "How on earth could you miss the fact that I wanted Ginger-Ale?"
"Well, you never asked for it... Next time, just send me a text telling me exactly what you want, and I'll put it in my iPod and make sure that it gets added to my to-do list."
Tears welled up in my eyes, "I don't want to be another item on your to-do list! I want you to just know what I need and to just remember and do it!"
"Courtney, honey, I'm not going to remember it unless I write it down on my to-do list."
"But you should! You should just know! You should just do! It shouldn't be so much work! Is it so hard to anticipate my needs and love me?!"
At which point in time, the poor man could have legitimately said that, "Yes" it was hard! My goodness... pain makes me emotional!
You see, it's a common misconception among women that loving service should just spring up like a burbling brook, elicited by my most obtuse references. I have been blessed with the world's most loving, intuitive husband. Because of this, I took it for granted that he would understand every single, most hidden agenda in every single moment of our communication.
It's not fair to expect communication to flow they way it does in movies or chick-lit. Women interpret true love as spontaneous acts of love and service without much direction being needed. Men should just know what we want.
My wonderful hubby was very anxious to serve me, but the thought of being another item on his to-do list, made me feel un-loved (largely because I didn't like acknowledging that sick-me was so much work, and that our intuitive love didn't span all modalities of communication). My interpretation of anticipatory love was very inappropriately constructed. Love is sacrificial. The fact that my husband writes notes to himself in order to remember to be sacrificial, in no way decreases the wonder of his service. If anything, it heightens it--showing me that it is that important to him.
True love is not a Katherine Heigl movie where the hero interprets her needs correctly during that first, candle-lit dinner. True love is writing notes to remember that a sick wife wants ginger-ale...and a chick-flick... and pj's... and a cuddle while watching said chick-flick in said pjs. It may seem less romantic, but the love that it springs from is consciouly serving the other person and striving to be a loving leader. Buying into romantic, intuitive nonsense is crazy. Clear communication and a willingness to serve (from both husband and wife!) is worth a thousand candlelight dinners.
Addendum: Several months after the initial Ginger-Ale conversation, I became deathly ill while working--yucky flu! My wonderful hubby (without my asking!) showed up to drive me home from work. As I climbed into the car, he placed a cold towel over my eyes, presented a giant teddy-bear for me to snuggle, and said, "Honey, there's ginger-ale cooling in the fridge at home."
Since these early conversations, my husband has done an amazing job reading my subtle hints of my wants and meeting those desires when it would be a good idea. :)
Now, that's true love.