A brand new reader named Ona shared a fantastic example of what you can learn about your spouse and yourself when you Assume Love. At the end, she asks for a little help with her next steps, so I want to share her comment and my advice with you. I hope it lights a few candles for you, because I want you to enjoy being married.
Wow has this philosophy been an eye opener. I can’t stop reading. But now I need to practice what I’m learning. My husband and I had an argument that ended with him expressing he’s ready to leave the marriage. This isn’t a complete shock as we’ve both been feeling frustrated and expressing this for over a year. But now 3 days after he expressed this conclusion, 2 days after confirming it, I realize I wasn’t ever assuming love. But how to go about life now? We’re in separate bedrooms and barely talk.
The last argument was because he signed up for 2 runs on Thanksgiving morning, and we host both of our extended families at our home. He had asked if I was interested a few days prior and I immediately gave him the reasons why I couldn’t (& therefore he couldn’t) including needing the morning hours for setting the table, getting the turkey cooking,
preparing the meal and cleaning the house. I told him he needed to be home to help too and entertain our 3 year old so that I could work on the dinner. But now I see all sorts of possibilities for this last act that we fought about, the one that I assumed meant he’s just a selfish person with no regard for the importance I place on providing a fabulous Thanksgiving feast.
Being around the family stresses him and running is a great stress reliever for him and could help him prepare for the family coming into his space. Perhaps he was even planning on taking our toddler along, I didn’t ask, but we have a running stroller. He monitors his weight and running before a big feast may allow him to enjoy the food I’ll work hard to prepare.
But now as I’ve assumed love and have allowed my assumption to change, do I go to him and express this? He barely looks me in the eye and we circle around each other within our home, careful to not find ourselves in the same room. I don’t know how to approach him. I fear if I do it in the wrong language he will not receive my love.
I am overjoyed to see how well you did on your first try as Assuming Love, Ona. Way to go! Yes, you really have to share this with him. It sounds like he would like to have back the old you, the one who cared more about him than logistics, the one who found his ideas well worth listening to.
Start with an apology. He was proposing a new way to celebrate Thanksgiving, a healthier one, a less stressful one, and you called him selfish. And he probably labeled you controlling. And neither of you are either of those.
You are just human beings who actually care about each other and your child and your families, in search of a good way to celebrate a holiday. Even though you sleep apart, he invited you to join him for this run. And you can still see the situation through his loving eyes. You two are far from done loving each other. You’re just having a hard time designing a life that lets you do it.
So get to work on a Third Alternative. Your picture of Thanksgiving and his are not the only two available to you. There is at least one version you could both really enjoy together and welcome your grandchildren to in another 25 years or so.
You could use paper plates, eat in a restaurant, have the food catered, hand your first guest a vacuum cleaner and dust rag, hire a cleaning service on Wednesday or Thursday, send your child out with your husband if he agrees, or offer a friend who loves the parade a pie and a couple of reheatable side dishes to take your child for the duration of the parade.
You could brainstorm conversation topics to bring up together to avoid the usual stressful topics, taste test the local bakeries for rolls and desserts you won’t need to bake, put the kids at the grownups table or move them off to their own table, switch to buffet or to pass-the-bowl service to lower the dinner stress level.
You could (maybe not so soon after a blowup, but next year perhaps) have a fun Sunday cook-a-thon together with music and no time pressure to prepare enough in advance to free you up to join the Thanksgiving Day race, or ask each of your guests to bring a side dish or gravy so you can go out as a family while the turkey and ham are in the oven.