Marriage Myths – I Never Really Loved Her

Whoa! We're kids!

It’s a tricky thing, marriage.

I’ve heard too many stories recently. The thirty-somethings sit across the table from me in the coffee shop and claim that they never really loved their spouses. They were duped, or forced, or manipulated, they claim. They were merely sexually repressed, forced into marriage by archaic notions of purity. Not in love, no. They merely needed to consummate, or copulate, or whatever. That’s what they claim.

Yes, I know this is risqué business.

Truth is, humans are revisionists. Always have been. History is told from a distinct point of view. Truth gives way to perception. The difficult here-and-now colors the beautiful there-and-then in shades of mirage. It’s easier to say “I never loved” than it is to say “I forgot how to love.”

I think it’s important to remember truth, to not get bogged down in alternative realities. We must remind ourselves of what we once knew—”love never fails.”

So today, I’m going to tell the truth. And I’m going on record to dispel Myth No. 1. And let me be clear: this is an active effort to protect my marriage.

Myth No. 1 – I never really loved her/him.

***

I had just turned twenty-one—a zealous boy who loved Enter the Worship Circle and hand-made acoustic guitars. I was a kid who craved an odd mix of hand-drums and economics. Uptight and laid back. A reforming legalist. A burgeoning grace wearer.

She was nineteen—a newborn Christian who had given up weed for Jesus. A ripped jean wearer. A sexy walker who made me quiver when she shook her hips. A girl who devoured scripture like it was fresh-baked. Like it was rustic. Like it was real.

She had this Alabama accent, the kind that said she knew Southern love’n. It made me crazy.

We once walked in sweater weather to the intramural fields, a fine mist hanging in the air. Only two weeks into love and she huddled close, clinging to my arm like a life-long lover. The drizzle blanketed us until it condensed and froze into ice chips on our wool hats. We made it through one-quarter of the football game before retiring to the coffee shop for Café Vienna, turtle cheesecake, and close talking. She shared her favorite new scriptures with me, reciting John 3:16 like it was fresh water. She was enamored with Jesus.

We went to this concert—Burlap to Cashmere, I think it was. She wore her ripped jeans, the ones that exposed her left knee cap when she sat. On Arkansas highway 64, I put my hand on her skin for the first time. It was dark in the car, but I imagine that she blushed hot pink. We awoke love that night.

We were engaged in two months. We were married in thirteen months.

We moved to Tulsa, hung tight to each other through the tight-rope of my new career. We suffered together through a murderous church experience. We clung tight in those early years, exploring the art of love.

And we explored well.

We snuck Champagne into our apartment—a blatant violation of our Baptist prohibition era. We ate strawberries and pretended that we could afford decadent hotel rooms. We lit candles. We said “I love you” in the dark. It was a bit cliché, maybe. But it was our cliché.

It would be a lie to say that I never loved you, Amber. I loved you from the beginning. Don’t ever let me spin an alternative reality.

***

Did you love your spouse in the beginning? Can you tell the truth? The lie is easy, but the truth will set you free.  Feel free to use the comments to dispel the myth. Or, better yet, write a post on your blog dispelling the myth, then tell us about it here.

I would love to hear your stories.

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64 Responses to Marriage Myths – I Never Really Loved Her

  1. sethhaines says:

    Also, Amber recounted our love story from her voice on her site. Just, you know, if you have some time to burn on some REALLY good writing.

    http://therunamuck.com/my-love-songs/

    • Vicki Bratcher Ghormley says:

      Seth, to say that I know you to be a person of incredible verbal skills is, after having read Marriage Myths, is an understatement of gargantuan proportions! Words fail me – the sheer beauty and poetry of what you have written is inspiring, my friend, truly inspiring! Reminds me of my wedding day – just a few months ago – and I am even more grateful now that you were a part of that day!

  2. I’ve heard (read?) Amber talk about the ripped jeans. The image lingers….

    Beautiful Seth; in tribute and memory, intent and motive.

    I’m smiling at the thoughts you’ve conjured :).

  3. Carolyn says:

    Wow, Seth. You are now one of my heroes for actively trying to protect your marriage. Yay you! And yay for those of us who benefit from you making the effort public.

    Hubby is my first marriage. But I am his third wife (his favorite one too! hehehe). We had a great wedding – so much fun. But we didn’t want it all to be foofy-romantic stuff. We didn’t want to pretend that we would get happily ever after. We knew it was going to be hard. Life is hard. Marriage doesn’t magically make life-struggles go away. The man who performed our wedding, Brother Dave, told all our guests, “Charles and Carolyn know that life is a struggle sometimes. They have decided to struggle together.” Then all kinds of other fun stuff happened. We jumped a broom and did the wave. It was awesome.

    But we knew. I knew. Charles used to ask me, “why are you telling me this _____ (fill in the blank)?” and I would tell him, “I’m practicing”. I knew that if I started to tell him everything right from the beginning, I would not be so scared to tell him when something big came up. I told him sometimes, “I’m affair-proofing our marriage”. He trusts me so much, but I told him that I was practicing in big and small ways being trustworthy. Having been the “other woman” before, I knew the pitfalls and started working actively to avoid them from the outset. He was puzzled at first, but he loves it now. He doesn’t question why I talk to him about all kinds of things. He cherishes it. And he has had a great group of men who surrounded him at the beginning of our marriage who helped him see some of his possible pitfalls and they mentored him through girding up the defenses. It keeps us mindful of what we promised each other.

    Since I seem to be writing a book here, I’ll share this. We didn’t ask Brother Dave ahead of time what our vows would sound like. We just assumed they would be the typical “til death do us part” vows. So when Charles (who went first) had to recite them, our eyes got big and we were silently communicating, “we have to say THAT?” But since we were standing there hand in hand in front of all the wedding guests – committed to the hit as it were – he said it and I said it. This is it: “I, Charles — take you, Carolyn — to be my wife. I will always love and respect you — I will always be honest with you — I will stand by you — through whatever may come — whether sickness or health — poverty or wealth — I will always be your best friend — I will make whatever adjustments are necessary — so that I can share my life with you.” It was that last line – “whatever adjustments are necessary” – that scared us. Talk about taking out all the loopholes. For months after the wedding, when we were having “discussions”, we would be saying, “it’s your turn to adjust” “no, it’s YOUR turn to adjust” “no, I adjusted last time!”. We love to tease Brother Dave that he tricked us. And he just laughs. He knew what he was doing when he borrowed those vows from a friend. He knew me very well and had started to figure out Charles. He knew we needed to close all the loopholes. So, no, there is no way for us to go back and say we never loved each other.

    The interesting thing is – he lied to me. Charles had lied to me about some important things and I did not find out til after we were married. So in some ways, I married a lie. I guess I could have used that as an excuse to walk out – “you’re not the man I thought I married” – but I didn’t have that thought. I just knew we were going to have to make some BIG ADJUSTMENTS. And we have. It gets loud sometimes when we are adjusting, but we’ve survived it so far. I hope people see us and maybe learn something about adjusting. I hope.

    Thank you for loving Amber out loud for us. It is inspiring and hope-giving.

    • sethhaines says:

      Wow, Carolyn! GREAT story. Thank you for sharing here. You are one of the good ragamuffins.

      • Carolyn says:

        What a lovely compliment, Seth. And after I confessed adultery and all in my comment (I surprised myself when I went back and looked at that – must’ve needed saying).

        Today must be a day about marriage. After writing a little book for you here, I went back to my email. Got my quote of the day in the inbox, and guess what it was about? So here it is:

        There is not one marriage in today’s culture that is not vulnerable. Why? Because we’ve allowed the culture to seep into our souls. … Clearly we can no longer pattern our marriages after the people around us — if we ever could. Not only does the world not know how to divorce-proof its marriages, it is well on the way to making broken relationships the norm! — Dr. Fred Lowery

  4. Kelly Sauer says:

    Oh my. This is too beautiful. Too sacred. I feel as if I should duck my head, watching you two. I think I would love to photograph you guys and your love.

    I should have my husband read you. I think you might make him less embarrassed to dare his own real writing.

    • sethhaines says:

      Mrs. Sauer,

      First, please don’t duck your head! We should probably duck ours a bit more instead. Second, next time we’re on the right coast, we’ll schedule an appointment. It’d be a HUGE honor.

      I would love to read your husband’s stories. Tell him I said so.

  5. Rae says:

    This makes me happy. Cuddled into our bed last night, my husband said “marriage is a great thing.” He’s right – but it sure can be easy to forget sometimes. Thanks for sharing your new-love passion and helping me remember those days.

  6. Melody says:

    I will make the time to do this – cause I tell you what brother, I KNOW I loved him then and I KNOW I love him now and I can’t believe how wonderful it is. I am a blessed woman.
    Keep writing Seth.

    • sethhaines says:

      I’d kill to see that on paper (or screen), Mel. You guys live love well. Amber and I actually talked a lot about it while y’all were here.

      Tell Dave I played Jordan’s guitar. Wow! I think it hugged me.

  7. three years in and just barely mid-twenties, it’s far too easy far too soon to think it was just a whirlwind. love changed and continues to change me and it’s hard to recognize the goodness of the new among the routine.

    the challenge is to give credit to the romantic beginning in spite of how juvenile it seems in retrospect. i trust that abby and the boy she fell for. it was real and it laid the foundation for what is now even realer.

    thanks for the challenge, seth. you and amber have reached the top of my list of far away neighbors.

    • sethhaines says:

      Thanks for writing this Abby. I wish that when we were just-bare-mid-twenties that we would have reflected more on the truth. It probably could have saved us a bit of a rough patch in there.

      Keep writing this out and keep working. You two are in a good good place.

  8. hamster says:

    I like how well you both won. Cheers to a man and woman who so beautifully celebrate what it means to be man and woman. The Stills are wickedly pro-Haines.

  9. sidnie says:

    a whirlwind romance.
    i’ve used that phrase more times than i can count to describe my love for and my marriage to my husband.
    he was in his early twenties and wore army green every day. i had just entered my twenties, lost my scholarship, and moved back home. we knew each other for only five months before there were two pink lines. we were married for two months before we were holding a child swaddled in blue.
    when deployments and babies and this foreign country living caught up with us, we realized that somewhere along the way we had lost sight of that romance. the lights were left on, and the dishes piled up, and the babies needed their mama and i forgot that a husband also needs his wife. i traded my tight jeans for yoga pants. i traded his touch for rolling over, because i was all touched out.
    i longed to connect with him. he longed to connect with a tall one.
    and now, we’re still dealing with deployment and little ones and this foreign country living, but we’re longing to find our way back to each other.
    the storms we’ve been through are nothing compared to the healing power of our whirlwind romance. our love is stronger than this. it’s there. always has been. always will be.
    it’s time to hold on tight and wait for the dust to settle…
    love will bring us through this….

  10. Nascardad says:

    Seth,

    I respect your integrity and your fight for love. Thank you for taking this stand on marriage.

    As you well know, I’ve inflicted a deep wound on my own marriage. I’m honored to say that I married a beautiful, Godly woman that stood by me, forgave me, and walked with me through restoration. For that, I will always be indebted. I am more enamored and in love with her today then ever before. I will always remember what God has brought me through and I am happy to say redemption is good, real good!

  11. I’ve wanted to start a series about mine and Austin’s love/marriage as it’s been experienced and revealed through the past 11+ years . . . Someday soon.

    I loved this post times a bazillion and it felt like I could read between every line you wrote because of our own story.

    Well done, you.

    • sethhaines says:

      Lady,

      Get on it! Share your story. I want to hear about your years as a traveling bard and the love it takes to make that work. Really. And maybe your husband could rock a sweet drum beat in the background.

  12. Bekka says:

    I really thank you for this. Some dear friends of mine have recently separated and one of the things she said to him was that she never loved him (six kids and almost 30 years of marriage later).

    Before this happened, I had already written about the love story behind my marriage to my husband, and I’m glad to see that it may very well serve as a reminder one of these years when things get rough. Well, what I mean is when they get rough-er. Things have been pretty rough [in mostly good ways] considering we’ll have only been married for 4 years come this December. But in any event, it will be nice to have a reminder of why we got into this together in the first place.

  13. katie says:

    I had a beautiful love once too, real authentic life-changing divinely-built love, and now as my certain divorce looms on the horizon, I think of marriage as a fragile miracle we expect to shore us up against tragic storms and rough seas. How can it be that love never fails when the husband of my years, my very best friend, says to me, “I don’t love you anymore, haven’t for several years”? Love still endures, I suppose; it changes shape and form, and it’s the people who fail.

    More needs to be said about the enduring fragility and delicate stronghold that is good marriage. Thank you for adding to the conversation in defense and celebration of marriage!

    • sethhaines says:

      Katie,

      I’m sorry. And you are right, “[m]ore needs to be said about the enduring fragility and delicate stronghold that is good marriage.” I’m going to think on that.

    • Barbara says:

      I heard these words after 30 years…I believed them for awhile as I adjusted to the loss, feelings of rejection, and the uncertainty that followed. But God was faithful–He always is! The lies faded and the truth came to the forefront–God grabbed me close and held me tight…and brought me to this place of joy and contentment and peace, knowing He is enough…and everything else is His gift to me!
      Thanks for this post! And I’m so glad I’m in HIS grip!!!

  14. Love this post, and shared it on FB. I think it’s inspired one from my own love story. THANK YOU for writing this.

  15. wow.
    this is good stuff.
    i’ve wanted to write out our love story for a while now.
    i haven’t known how real to be….how much to expose.
    this makes me want to start again….thanks for the prompting. . .

    • sethhaines says:

      Sara, I think you know what our take would be on this. Throw it out there. The truth is the truth, after all, and it’s a great protection from lies.

      We’re glad to be church members with you and your’ns.

  16. Randi Roper Perkins says:

    Seth, I happened upon your post tonight & am awe-struck. An hour later, almost 1am, and I’ve now read your post, all 39 comments, and Amber’s story…
    I started dating my husband when I was 17 and I wonder (quite often lately) if I would have chosen him knowing what I know now. The answer is YES!!!! Thank you & Amber for reminding me of the feelings that have been hiding under the chaos of 12 years of marriage and 3 crazy boys. I want to write my love story…

    • sethhaines says:

      Randi,

      So glad you stopped by this place. Please write your love story and share it with your husband, kids, family, friends, etc. It’s completely worth it. And if you blog it somewhere, came back here and let us know!

      I hope you and yours are well.

  17. laura parker says:

    What a great post! Isn’t it so beautiful to REMEMBER the beginning? I love that you gave us a glimpse into ya’ll’s. We are in our thirties now, too, married over a decade, and there is something about this time of marriage where grit meets that beginning even more. Amid kids and normal and familiar, keep marriage alive and intimate is taking us so much more intention than it did when he walked 20 minutes across campus to meet me in the dorm lobby. And it seems like so many of those who are in our same season struggle, harder, now, then in years past.

    Loved reading this today.

    • sethhaines says:

      Grit… yes.

      That’s why I wrote this post, Laura. It seems amazing to me how so many people in their 30s (and 40s) are just deciding that that same trek across campus was something other than crazy love. It’s almost like folks have decided to give up when it’s time to work.

      Amber and I have certainly had our share of struggles and marriage is HARD work. But truth is, I love her. And that’s that. So the working is worth it. And the other truth is, I’m a knuckle head so she works about TWICE AS HARD! 🙂

      Say hi to the people group you call your extended family group. Share truth with them and may you and your family be blessed in your ministry.

  18. Lora Lynn says:

    It is love. I started to type “was,” but by God’s grace, it isn’t past tense. It’s love at 18 and it’s still love at 32. Some days, I choose love more than I feel it. But it’s love. And we always invest in it. Time and energy pour into Togetherness to keep the love healthy.

    I’m the product of divorce. I believe love can die. I don’t believe it excuses us from our marriages, but I believe we can kill the love.

    And so we keep working love, choosing love, choosing Together rather than separate, and enjoying the sacred fruits of our labors. And we cling to the memories of Young Us, when I stole his jacket and he held my hand “to keep it warm.”

    • sethhaines says:

      “We keep working love…” This is good, LL. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story here. It’s important for a guy to keep his lady’s hand warm. Felelas don’t want their lady’s hands falling off for frost bite and such.. Right?

      Y’all are all delicate flowers… er… something.

      It’s a pleasure to watch the way you guys work love in Alabama.

  19. Janelle davis says:

    As an “old married” woman of almost 37 years, who married at the cusp of 19, it is refreshing to read how this younger generation of fine Christ-loving couples are working hard to stay married. It does take enormous commitment and adjusting on each side, but i have to say the rewards are huge. When you grow to be able to finish each others thoughts, when you know what is needed just by listening and looking in each other’s eyes, it is so comforting and such a deep love. Our favorite dates now are when we keep our grandchildren and truly enjoy the “fruits of our labors.” the sweetest blessings are the offspring of our offspring. We clung to each other through many trials, blindness, job loss, etc., but the prime thought we held onto was that we will never divorce like our parents had. That pain is never relieved…we knew our children had no choice about being born to us, but by the gace of our Lord, we would remain us no matter what and we are proud of that accomplishment. Grace and love and adjusting are the key. Hang in there youngsters…you totally rock mr. & mrs. Haines!

    • sethhaines says:

      Janelle,

      Thank you so much for bringing your voice by here. It’s pure delight to hear the story of someone who’s made it, or is making it. Here’s to your 37 years and counting. Thank you for sharing your story here.

  20. Jenny says:

    It’s easier to say “I never loved” than it is to say “I forgot how to love.”

    So true… how can we continue to remember how to love in marriage? It seems easy to develop the capacity to “remember how to be annoyed” or “remember how to disrespect” but why is remembering how to love so difficult? We are 2 years in – it has been a hard two years – due to a lot of internal adjustments we have had to learn to make, and outside crazy things that have challenged us daily that we never signed up for. My prayer is that 5, 10, 15, 30, 50 years from now, I am remembering to love more than I am practicing being annoyed. Great post!

    • sethhaines says:

      Good words, Jenny. I think remembering how to love is critical and for us, it just takes intentional time. And that gets DANG HARD with kids in tow. But we do it. And it just kind of works.

      And, by the way, I’m REALLY annoying to Amber sometimes. I think it’s endearing… or at least I hope it’s endearing… or if it’s not endearing, she suffers through.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  21. Mela Kamin says:

    all I can add is GO SETH & AMBER! … so beautiful to read this from your perspective – I don’t think there are enough marrieds out there actively fighting and sharing the battles. Thanks for your courage to do both.

  22. Rachel R says:

    Beautiful words. When you’ve married “young,” stuck it out, cried it out, stormed out, come back, loved in the hard times, dark times, and bright, easy times, just not sure I could make myself believe a lie of that magnitude about my Justin. Thank God.

  23. G says:

    I remember the love back then but there are certainly many days it is hard to love now. Especially when you are fighting for a deepening of your relationship and your spouse is not. When you have four little kids and one on the way and your spouse is content with “scraping by”, relationally and spiritually. All I know is that clinging to Christ and knowing the Love He has for me is sufficient in every way regardless of my earthly relationships. Being in a broken world is beyond painful. Looking forward to true redemption and communion with the Father. Whether we remember the love, or revise history, fight a losing battle or win one, Christ is sufficient.

  24. Tom Martin says:

    I knew I loved her on Nov. 5th 2010.
    I told her I loved her the day before Thanksgiving.
    I think between Christmas and New Years, we both knew we would be married the following year.

    -When the cancer re-entered my world for a third time on Valentine’s Day, I thought we might continue to date for awile, but felt she would gradually drift away…thinking that most would with so much uncertainty and doubt in my diagnosis.

    -Why would she expose herself & her boys to the possibility of yet another loss when her ex-husband and their dad had willingly left them for someone else?

    I was worried and thought the end was near when she told me we needed to talk.
    I was humbled when she asked me why we were waiting and not planning a wedding now since we had already discussed a wedding in the fall.
    I was reminded that if the situation were reversed I would be asking her the same question.

    -Words cannot describe how loved I felt then and how loved I felt 21 days later when we exchanged our vows before 50 close friends and family in the backyard of the house where we reconnected 11 months prior.

    And almost six months later, in the midst of a trial that would be worse than we both could have imagined, that love has grown stronger and we both feel blessed beyond measure.

    ~Tom
    trusting God period!

    For more of this story check out this post: http://tommartinatl.com/when-god-winks-love/
    which tells the tale of love, God Winks, cancer, fate, and faith

    Words can express the emotions, but video captures emotion, and I think the trailer for our wedding video does both: http://www.youtube.com/my_videos?feature=mhee

    Seth thank you for sharing your story and providing this platform to remind us all what we should be grateful for or praying for!

  25. Patricia says:

    Seth..thank you for reminding me I once loved , I dated my Ex for 4 years we married for 7 and had a lovely daughter . People ask me today after 10 years of DIVORCE ..did you love him ..how could you have loved him? And I still respond yes of course i loved my husband , but we lived seperate lives he was on the road as a musician and I was home working , then a mommy , i thought I was doing the right thing encouraging him to live his dream . I sacrificed my own . not knowing at the time and loving him through our good times , hard times ect. but it comes down to what you so beautifullly wrote “I never really loved her”…I cant ever say that . I did once love him..so much. I would rather feel and know I onced LOVED rather than have never loved. we didnt make it through , the adaultry , loneliness , and aurguments, i left hurt and didnt think I would eve. . r ever love again.But GOD is merciful , today still single “by choice” he he he . my life is full of love and laughter. God has given us a peaceful and content life. I can truely tell my teenage daughter her dad and I did love eachother very much….but sometimes things dont last forever. Fairty Tales do come true you just have to work at them. Marriage was the hardest gig I ever endored and a great time in life. ..now the big queastion ,, Do I love him ? I forgive him . I forgive myself. I still love him in a spitual way. i want him to be happy. Every story has a happy ending ..that I WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE..blessings

    • sethhaines says:

      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s all so complex, this life we live. It’s good to see someone deal with heartache and emerge with peace. Keep believing and keep sharing.

  26. Loved her in the beginning and even more now. She’s the best!

  27. Pingback: Marriage Myths — We Don’t Have Anything in Common | Seth Haines

  28. Angie says:

    Seth,

    I loved reading your posts this morning. I have been married 11 years now, and I know I have said a few times to my husband that I worry we don’t have anything in common anymore. With 11 years behind us, 2 kids, and several military moves it had become easy to forget what brought us together in the first place. Thanks for reminding me:)

    Angie

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