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October 9, 2018

Mocking Your Spouse

Do you remember falling in love with this man or woman you're married to? Do you remember standing taller, even floating on air, as another human being got to see behind your public facade and admired the real you? You were transported from ordinary person to desirable, exceptionally skilled, unusually talented, fascinating you.

Do you remember, too, that amazing feeling of doing loving acts, of choosing to say something, do something, give something with not even a hint of manipulation, just joy at the wonder of this person you'd discovered and gratitude for the blessing of having him or her in your life?

Both of these filled you up with an extraordinary type of solid fuel, and you two have probably added to it many times since then. If you've grown as a person since then, thank that fuel. If you've accomplished something that required a lot of grit since then, thank that fuel. If you've survived a terrifying challenge since then, thank that fuel.

But let's get to the point of this post. When I first went off to college in Massachusetts, I and my fellow students from the New York City area got called on the carpet one night by a local student. We'd all grown up mocking each other, but we were coming across as jerks in a new environment.

We'd grown up with mocking, and not just among us kids. We'd been mocked even by our parents, who mocked each other. We hardly noticed anymore that we were doing anything unkind. Instead, we felt clever for our quips. We felt powerful and important, because we had an easy way to enforce what we thought the norms for a group ought to be. And we'd heard so much mocking that our pain when it was directed at us was surely a lot less than the pain of those unused to it.

Under stress, I still slip back into this awful habit at times. And the person I'm most likely to mock is the one I know so well, my husband. I'm sure it hurts him and takes back some of the love I've offered him on better days. But it's also taking a melon baller to my own limited supply of stored-up love and loving. And that's going to cost me dearly.

The Author

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

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