No, love isn’t all you need to get through life. But when talking about your marriage, this song title serves as excellent advice. All you need from your husband or wife is love.
If you’ve got kids and a house and a job and a love of quiet walks in the woods, you probably have a lot more needs, but you don’t need them from your spouse. You need them whether or not you’ve got a spouse. I discovered that the day after my husband suddenly died.
I seriously considered divorcing the man I loved because I didn’t get what I thought I needed from him. I even convinced myself that he must not love me if he didn’t provide all of those things. I believed that he owed me all of the things I needed, that as my husband only he could provide them. I was so wrong.
When his death handed me back my list of needs, I could see clearly how much he’d loved me. I could also see way too clearly that while I might find other people to help me with my list of needs, I still needed love.
Eleven long years later, I found love again. In the interim, I learned how to get my son to and from school without a husband, how to get the leaves raked and the house painted without a husband, how to put food on the table when there’s no time because I fixed the broken light myself, how to find a dance partner without marrying one, how to find a dinner companion without marrying one, how to get more money without marrying into it, even how to get time to myself without a husband.
The first time it snowed on the new home my second husband and I moved into, I had a strong temptation to slip back to my old ways and see the white stuff as his snow and myself as his needy maiden in distress. I didn’t like that picture, so I tried on another, “We both live here, so he’d better get moving and help remove the snow.” I struggled for some way out of this task I’ve never enjoyed. He stumbled out of bed and made himself a cup of coffee. He hadn’t had to shovel snow since he was a child. If he packed his bags and left right now, I’d still have snow to shovel. If I packed my bags and left right now, I’d still have snow to shovel, just somewhere else.
It seemed unfair. I hate shoveling snow. Wouldn’t fairness dictate that I should have to shovel only half of it at most? Nah, fairness would probably dictate that some woman who’d never been married should have received his love, not someone who’d already been lucky in love like me. I had snow and I had love, and I’d learned that I can get rid of snow lots more easily than I can find love.
I briefly considered pulling out one of those relationship-crushing “shoulds” – men should take responsibility for snow removal from their homes. Then if he doesn’t do what he “should” do, I’d have my evidence that his character lacks something or I’m not loved as much as I thought. No thanks. Been there, done that, wasted too many years already.
I knew he loved me and was doing what he felt he should be doing at this time.
I thought back to my friend’s second husband, who died of a heart attack just four months after they married, while arguing with her son over who should shovel the snow. My son and his wife were asleep in our guest room, recovering from jet lag.
So, out I went. All You Need Is Love turns out to have a great beat for shoveling snow. My son and a neighbor showed up to help. A cup of hot cocoa awaited me inside. I felt loved.