I spent five years hurting a good woman by staying with her, but never fully choosing her.
I did want to be with this one. I really wanted to choose her. She was an exquisite woman, brilliant and funny and sexy and sensual. She could make my whole body laugh with her quick, dark wit and short-circuit my brain with her exotic beauty. Waking up every morning with her snuggled in my arms was my happy place. I loved her wildly.
Unfortunately, as happens with many young couples, our ignorance of how to do love well quickly created stressful challenges in our relationship. Before long, once my early morning blissful reverie gave way to the strained, immature ways of our everyday life together, I would often wonder if there was another woman out there who was easier to love, and who could love me better.
As the months passed and that thought reverberated more and more through my head, I chose her less and less. Every day, for five years, I chose her a little less.
I stayed with her. I just stopped choosing her. We both suffered.
Choosing her would have meant focusing every day on the gifts she was bringing into my life that I could be grateful for: her laughter, beauty, sensuality, playfulness, companionship, and so much more.
Sadly, I often found it nearly impossible to embrace—or even see—what was so wildly wonderful about her.
I was too focused on the anger, insecurities, demands, and other aspects of her strong personality that grated on me. The more I focused on her worst, the more I saw of it, and the more I mirrored it back to her by offering my own worst behavior. Naturally, this only magnified the strain on our relationship…which still made me choose her even less.
Thus did our nasty death spiral play itself out over five years.
She fought hard to make me choose her. That’s a fool’s task. You can’t make someone choose you, even when they might love you.
To be fair, she didn’t fully choose me, either. The rage-fueled invective she often hurled at me was evidence enough of that.
I realize now, however, that she was often angry because she didn’t feel safe with me. She felt me not choosing her every day, in my words and my actions, and she was afraid I would abandon her.
Actually, I did abandon her.
By not fully choosing her every day for five years, by focusing on what bothered me rather than what I adored about her, I deserted her.
Like a precious fragrant flower I brought proudly into my home but then failed to water, I left her alone in countless ways to wither in the dry hot heat of our intimate relationship.
I’ll never not choose another woman I love again.
It’s torture for everyone.
If you’re in relationship, I invite you to ask yourself this question:
“Why am I choosing my partner today?”
If you can’t find a satisfying answer, dig deeper and find one. It could be as simple as noticing that in your deepest heart’s truth, “I just do.”
If you can’t find it today, ask yourself again tomorrow. We all have disconnected days.
But if too many days go by and you just can’t connect with why you’re choosing your partner, and your relationship is rife with stress, let them go. Create the opening for another human being to show up and see them with fresh eyes and a yearning heart that will enthusiastically choose them every day.
Your loved one deserves to be enthusiastically chosen. Every day.
You do, too.
Bryan Reeves is the author of the book Tell the Truth, Let the Peace Fall Where it May.