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If I'm Not the One Thing You Can't Stand to Lose...

Reba McEntire's hit song Consider Me Gone expresses a feeling many of us have experienced in our relationships. "If I'm not the one thing you can't stand to lose...consider me gone." Feeling unimportant to someone we love and want in our life is intolerable. Our natural first impulse is to run.

Yet, when I listen to this song, I don't hear a woman who has fallen in love first and realizes she's hoping for more than she's likely to get, someone who might do well to run. I hear a woman who has made a commitment to a life partner or created a lifelong bond by giving birth to a child together, a woman in intense pain who wants most to hold onto a loving bond.

"Consider me gone" may be intended to get a declaration of love from someone who doesn't want her to go, but it's more likely to set off the same horrible fear that her partner is not the one thing she can't stand to lose.

To her, I want to yell, "Assume love! Before you let fear take over your senses, try out the idea that what's got you worried is not lost love at all, but fearful love or even full-out, committed love being expressed in a way you're not familiar with."

An example: when I am very busy, away from home a lot, working when I'm there, my husband figures the best way to show his love is to keep himself busy and out of the way. I come dashing into the house thinking, "Oh, finally, a chance to spend some time with him," and he's so deeply involved in something that I cannot get his attention. And I never fail to feel rejected, unimportant to him — until I Assume Love and try looking at his actions as an act of love.

Then I smile, instead of running off to another room and pouting while I busy myself with something I don't really want to be doing. Maybe he doesn't care that I'm available, but maybe — more likely — he's being helpful, because my entrance wasn't any different from the last few, when I had 40 minutes to get something important done and run out again.

Gently, by joining in whatever he's doing or by quietly kissing the top of his head while he works, I make it clear this entrance of mine is different. My fear drains away. He smiles as he catches on, and he lets me know how soon he'll be done, or he welcomes me into whatever he's doing. Neither of us worries the other is going or good as gone. Life is very, very sweet. I like being married, and I love the calm that assuming love brings us.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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