My second husband rarely said he loved me. When we split up, he named some of the the things he did to show his love. "Wasn't that enough?" He asked, in a sad and sort of pathetic voice.
I am often a people pleaser. My first desire is to say whatever I need to say to make someone happy. To make them feel better. To fix things. I wanted desperately to say it was enough.
Clearly, however, it wasn't. If it was, we wouldn't be divorcing.
"No," I said. It hurt to say that. It hurt us both.
Over the years since then, over many long years alone and many failed relationships, I came to understand that the failing was mine. Or, largely mine. I did not know how to garner love from little deeds. I needed reassurance. Lots of it. I am sad to this day that I wasn't able to receive the love that husband gave me into the fullness of my heart. My heart was too too empty.
Now I have an abundance of love. I have a husband who says he loves me and I deeply believe he means it. I also have a husband who day by day does hundreds of little things to show his love and I, through long consideration of how I failed my second husband, have now come to truly understand and appreciate those little gifts of love.
I have a genuine deep grief about one love lost and a deep joy for what I have now.