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I Wish My Spouse Would Assume Love

One thing greatly discouraged me about my training as a marriage educator. Most of the exercises and techniques were for becoming a better spouse. I see the same thing in most books about marriage.

When a person is unhappy with their marriage, becoming a better spouse is difficult and kind of risky. Will trying something new cause our partner to do anything that will make us any happier?

This is why, when we read a marriage book or learn a technique, we want to know how to get our spouses to read it or learn it, too. This is why people drag unwilling spouses to therapy and to classes. This is why I refused to get certified as a marriage therapist. "You first" is such a powerless way to deal with a problem.

So, I write about how to be a happy spouse, how to change your marriage without waiting for your guy or gal to read the book or try the new idea. And even so, I get comments that say, "If only my husband would Assume Love." Or "how do I get my wife to Expect Love instead of her long list of expectations?"

The answer? You don't. You Expect Love. You don't expect the person you married to read what you read or learn new skills as you learn them. You expect your beloved to show you love. And that's all you watch for, all you measure. You take delight in discovering a loving act you might have overlooked in the past. And you own your own needs, set your fair-share line at everything you would need to deal with for yourself if you had no partner, no love.

And please don't Expect Love because it's the virtuous or right thing to do. Expect Love because your marriage is a lot more fun, a lot less competitive, a lot less anxious, a lot more fulfilling when you Expect Love. And while you might want this for your wife or husband, too, you cannot give it. He or she must claim it. And that will happen when it happens.

In the meantime, watch for and savor all the love your mate can offer you now from inside whatever he or she currently sees as the story of your marriage, and return as much love as your grateful heart allows.


I'd like to put a link to your post on my blog. I'm blogging about the changes I am making in my life as I turn sixty and your post sums up how I'm going to work on my marriage. I'm new to blogging so if this is not appropriate, please let me know. Thanks.

Cyndi, congratulations on your new blog! You never need permission to link to someone else's blog or to an article on their blog. Most, including me, greatly appreciate it.

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

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