Patty and Rod
Patty Newbold had married “a really great guy,” but by the time their 13th anniversary rolled around, she had a long list of things he needed to change to make the marriage work. At 34, she felt depressed, frantic—and guilty, as Rod was fighting a chronic disease. But she had reached a breaking point. “I read my husband my list of unmet needs and suggested a divorce,” even though what she really wanted was her marriage back. “I wanted to feel loved again. But it didn’t seem possible.”
Newbold has had a long time to think about that list. Her husband died the next day, a freak side effect of his medications. “He was gone, but the list remained. Out of perhaps 30 needs, only one was eased by losing him. I was free now to move the drinking glasses next to the sink.”
As she read through the list the morning after he died, she realized that “marriage isn’t about my needs or his needs or about how well we communicate about our needs. It’s about loving and being loved. Life is about meeting (or letting go of) my own needs. Marriage is about loving another person and receiving love in return. It suddenly became oh so clear that receiving love is something I make happen, not him.” And then she was flooded with memories of all the times “I’d been offered love by this wonderful man and rejected it because I was too wrapped up in whatever need I was facing at the time.”
Revitalized is “a funny word to describe a relationship in which one party is dead,” she reports, “but ours was revitalized. I was completely changed, too.” Everything she learned that awful day has gone into a second marriage, now well into its second decade.”—
Learning to recognize and accept love is often times harder than giving love. Learning to receive is one of those lessons that’s important to learn early on. It makes life easier and it makes love easier. Without accepting love, you can’t experience the beauty of unconditional love.