A couple of weeks ago, I stopped telling my husband that I loved him. After almost 9 years of saying ‘I love you’ every day and sometimes several times in a day, I just stopped.
It’d be nice to tell you that I visited Rogi Yaman and spent a couple of months with the Sages of Sivana in the Himalayas. I’d like to tell you that I went through a serious phase of soul searching, yoga and mental detox.
I’d like to be a real hero and take you through my journey of self-discovery and the ’15 steps to Renewing Yourself and Your Marriage’ seminar that I attended. That the seminar was hosted by the renowned Mark Gungor of ‘Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage’ seminars.
All that would be nice to say, if it were true.
I’ve only met the Sages of Sivana in print. I only know Mark Gungor from following him on social media. Oh, I also watched him on Citizen TV several years ago when he held his seminars here in Kenya. I died of embarrassment when watching the breakfast interview though. Whoever sent that particular host to represent us, may the salt shaker lid fall off as you sprinkle your scrambled eggs!
I did not go through any mental detox. My halting of the ‘I love yous’ was born out of frustration, to be honest. I got tired of saying it back even when I knew I didn’t want to say it. Blame it on estrogen. Or Corona. Or global warming.
I hated saying it back when I still felt taken for granted or wronged with no apology forthcoming. I didn’t want to say ‘I love you too’ lest he thought I had forgiven and forgotten all his mistakes, yet I was still counting my heartaches, naming them one by one, and it not surprising me what the guy had done.
How could I say it when he had forgotten all the important days — Mothers Day, Women’s Day, The day of the African Girl, Caserean Section Moms Day, Valentine’s Day, I-don’t-feel-like-doing-anything Day …
I stopped saying ‘I love you’ purely out of pride. We, married folks don’t like saying this at all, but I started feeling like we will not grow old together.
Small problems were left unattended to and that went as well as leaving the cooking gas leaking. Someone just needed to walk in and light a match and our little perfect marriage would implode.
We finally got the tractors out to weed the marriage field that had been lying fallow. And these glaring lessons came flooding during the talk. By the end of the weeding session, I was a whole new person.
I hadn’t planned on stopping the sweet nothings, but I also wasn’t expecting the lessons I have picked from this season of my foolishness and pride.
Lesson 1 — Mr K did not for even one day stop saying ‘I love you’. Even on those days when I mumbled a weak ‘mmh’ in response, he didn’t tire. Him saying ‘I love you’ was not pegged on me saying it back. It was a statement, not a question to be answered with ‘I love you too’.
He knew in his heart that he loved me and didn’t stop saying it when I started having a crisis. As long as we were together, he had enough love for both of us. We would be looking daggers at each other and he’d still say it. At times it’d make me want to roll my eyes over in my head, but it was also very reassuring.
One day, in the height of frustration, I expressed regret in our getting married. We just felt wrong for each other. In my head, I could count a few other people I would have married and we’d have been happier, or so I thought.
Talking of which, allow me to digress. You men need to shoot your shots when you have feelings for someone. I have had some guy that I had a crazy crush on telling me how much he liked me but he feared me! Feared! What the ..? Before I met K, he was my object of desire, I refused other suitors waiting for him to say something. Dude was just there being a good brother and giving me hot hugs.
Then I met K and he obliterated all the others. It’s their loss and my gain.
Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, the love. After this experience, I have mad respect and love for K. Talk of loving like Christ loved the church, he has shown me the meaning of that verse. Previously, I quoted that verse to remind myself how short he was falling. Oh, the folly!
Lesson 2 — I expressed my love very vividly without having to say it. I asked Mr. K what he felt about me not telling him ‘I love you’. His response: I know you love me. I have felt it every day.
2nd corinthians 13 is quite the description of what love is and what it’s not. What I have discovered from that chapter is that love is all about what we do and not so much what we say. It’s action-oriented.
Despite me not saying the words, I acted in love on many things and he was convinced of my love from my deeds when my words were lost in anger, pride and frustration. I was not even aware that he was making these observations.
I was sure he’ll tell me how terrible I am for not saying the words and I honestly didn’t want to ask. But his answer has had me signing my marriage certificate all over again. And I have more assurance that I actually do love the guy.
Lesson 3 — Talk. When our gravely sick marriage was finally laid on the operating table and dissected, we discovered tumours that would not have been life-threatening had they been treated early.
Thankfully, they were not malignant and they were all extracted. But we didn’t have to get there if we had addressed issues and changed attitudes earlier than we did. Little foxes, remember?
This was not an experiment that I’m recommending to every couple out there, but if the shoe fits, please rock it. I have seen how easy it is to hide behind the words and not have to make it real.
I have seen people abuse others physically and emotionally while hiding behind “I still love you.”
If the words were taken away, would your love still be evident?
This incident had me thinking about Westlife’s song, More than Words:
Is not the words
I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel
Is all you have to do
To make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say
That you love me
‘Cause I’d already know
If my heart was torn in two?
More than words to show you feel
That your love for me is real
If I took those words away?
Then you couldn’t make things new
Just by saying “I love you”
It’s more than what you say
It’s the things you do …