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The Very Thin Line between Awful and Wonderful

I was chatting with a couple of friends today. All three of us have had our crazy-making moments in our marriages. Some little change or thoughtless act sends us into a royal panic that makes us wonder if we're getting a fair shake or if we ought to run for the hills.

So we Assume Love, check for loving explanations of the behavior or words that freaked us out, and suddenly see the situation a lot more clearly.

But today, one mentioned how much her husband loved hearing he's really missed while he's away. You could just hear how surprised she was and how great it made her feel to hear him "sit up a little straighter" even over the phone.

And that's how marriage goes. For most of us, the problems are never really so big. They just scare us, because we imagine they could grow bigger. What affects us is the direction things are moving in. Our negative reaction begets a negative reaction, which sets off a misunderstanding, and suddenly everything seems bleak. At other times, noticing how nice it is to share a bed leads to a positive comment which leads to a big grin which leads to feeling so very wonderful.

We are all built to love. It's what we do best. When we can see we're doing it well, it's as sweet a pleasure as biting into a ripe cantaloupe or tickling a toddler.

Yes, some marriages turn very ugly. Most don't. They just cross that very thin line between counting our blessings and returning love with more love and counting our unmet needs and hoarding our love.

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

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