I fell out of love with my husband. He fell out of love with me. This was just six short years ago. And we are still married.
Thirteen years ago, I married a remarkable man. He was physically, mentally and spiritually strong. His stellar sense of humor captivated me from the moment we met. I knew I would laugh every day of my life with him. He was loyal and respectful. His brilliant mind aimed for a career in law and possibly politics. He was gentle and giving, patient and wise. Our future was bright and I loved him then.
Life's experiences, trials and opportunities have molded him into a different person. He has learned lessons from his own mistakes and the mistakes of others, including mine. He possesses different habits, qualities and characteristics today than he did all those years ago. No person can go through this life and not become a revised version of him or herself.
So when we marry, and we make vows and commitments to our loves, and for some even to God, do we understand in that moment, how very different each of us will be five, 10, 30 years down the road? Do we truly comprehend the adjustments and remodeling that will be required of us to remain in a unified marriage? I know I didn't.
We had fights about the important things, and lots of fights about nothing. We had losses - big ones. The biggest loss for me was my mother - a loss that changed me irrevocably. He was very patient and gentle. At that time I couldn't always give 100 percent; I was barely giving anything. Years of this exhausted him and inevitably changed him too. We struggled spiritually, physically, emotionally. We have individual pains and sorrows that have fused into one, both feeling the other's anguish. There are plenty of opportunities to hold on to mistakes and faults and to use them to disconnect, to give up and end what once was love.
We faced the choice to end or not to end. One night during a serious conversation, he said, "Do you still love me? Do you still want to be married to me? Do you still want to be a family?" Each of us, terrified of the other's response, asked these exact questions with calm and open hearts. I whispered, "I love you as a person and the father of our two sons, but I'm not in love with you." His feelings were identical. Unsure if things could be fixed, we both did still want to try.
We fought for our marriage, for our family. It has taken years to get to where we are today - but where we are is incredibly amazing and fulfilling. He is still all of the things he was when we married, just with altered and additional qualities. We are each other's priority, defending each other over our own family and friends. His career aspirations of old have vanished, replaced with dreams that have become reality and have taken him to places he never thought possible. He is so much more now than he was when I married him. He is so much better. And none of it is the result of my own attempts at changing him. He became who he is today because of his choices; his own desires to change.
In the years after that uncertain conversation, I have made a determined choice to step back and love my husband for who he is, just as he is, in any moment, every day. I simply let him be. Then I started to positively change who I was, who I had become. It was excrutiating some days and didn't come naturally. The more I focused on my own faults and correcting my behavior towards him, the less I saw his faults, and the more my love grew for him. Every day I made a conscious decision to stop and replace any critical thoughts about my husband that crept into my mind. As I did this, my natural thoughts regarding him became more positive and loving. Thoughts of his strengths, memories of love and laughter, and desires to serve him soon became constants in my mind. Malice and anger had been replaced with devotion and compassion. I had learned to love my husband once more, and even purer than I had before.
The biggest change that we both have made has been this: We deeply, without judgment, accept each other as we are. We accept each other's weaknesses, faults and annoying habits. Supporting each other through struggles, whatever the nature, without holding judgment, has been marriage-changing. It is a gift to be able to sit across from the man you love and say, "I am seriously struggling. I can't do this alone. I need help," and then to have him hold you, wipe your tears and love you even more than he did an hour prior to your confessions. This is what we fought for.
And today, we have a new love; a different and genuine love that has been strengthened through both joy and difficulties. It is a love only he and I could ever understand. I am a better woman because of him, and for him. He is a better man because of and for me. My hope is that my own actions and love for him will only ever encourage and allow him to be who he is destined to be. Only he knows my soul so deep and has captured my heart once again. Only him have I ever seen; only him shall I ever love.
This article was originally published on undefined It has been republished here with permission.