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Things I Wish I Could Tell The Man I Thought I Would Grow Old With

Things I Wish I Could Tell The Man I Thought I Would Grow Old With

The early days of a wondrous new relationship tend to be filled with glee and magic–and incomparable hope. Ecstatic and exhilarated, we knit together futures we’re certain will unfold. We close the door to doubt and open our arms wide to love, opportunity, and the concept of together forever. And in that space, time dissolves, because we have all we need of it in the world.

So when the strength of a bond frays or a relationship ends tragically–death, divorce, infidelity–we shuffle forward in the dark, trying to recapture lost time, feeling the weight of regret and dashed chances. There are so many things we haven’t experienced together yet, we think. There are so many things left unsaid.

I had an inkling that my marriage was doomed to fail the moment I begged for marble countertops and ended up with brown granite instead. By then, however, we had tied the knot and I was three months pregnant with our child. An architect by trade, my husband claimed to know it all, from the interior structure of our to-be-remodeled home to the inner workings of my heart. As an alpha female who wasn’t used to yielding to someone else when it came to life’s decision, both big and small, the clashes between us grew so vast that they ultimately became as irreparable as a severed bridge. I was left bitter and resentful when I renounced trying to steer the ship. He, an introvert, was left bewildered and cold by the innate differences in our personalities.

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After time partially healed the pain caused by our separation, those things I left unsaid bubbled to the surface with such urgency I could hardly put down my pen. If you, too, are going through a divorce or a separation, know that it’s never too late to speak from that place he or she once touched: your heart.

You expressed your love in ways that took me time to understand.

Quiet and seemingly removed, my husband demonstrated that love can be given in silence and adoration in stillness; it is the sheer presence that counts.

I learned life’s greatest lessons from you.

Without my husband’s incredible influence of me, I would still be searching for someone to save me. He taught me that it is I–and only I–who can save myself.

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Love knows no boundaries.

Geographically, on paper, and to our friends and family, we may be apart. But true love, even if it doesn’t function in the traditional sense, persists. Such fondness doesn’t vanish; it only shifts.

Carpe Diem.

Through our separation, I’ve realized that to eliminate “tomorrow” from one’s vocabulary is to live life to the fullest. Seize what you have today, and love with all of your might–for nothing but a calendar can guarantee tomorrow.

I adored the child inside of you.

So focused on his career and his role as a father, my husband wasn’t inclined to let loose often. But when he did, such vividness and humor and cheer emerged. He might have been embarrassed when this side came out, but I relished every minute of it.

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There was such grace in your small gestures.

From making me coffee in the morning to ensuring I had enough books beside my bed when ill, my husband did a number of little things to elate me, comfort me, and demonstrate his love for me. Some of his kindnesses were left unacknowledged, and yet they never went unnoticed.

You’re still as attractive as the day I met you.

Time can ravish us, time can change us. But the beauty we see in our former partners–that essence; that light–never fades.

You know me better than anyone else.

There are few greater comforts than knowing that your love—whether he or she is part of your past or remains in your presence—knows and adores you through and through. My husband knew my secrets, my passions, my pet peeves, my moods. And there is tremendous beauty in realizing that, at times, no explanation is needed. You are who you are, he sometimes seemed to say in silence, and that is more than enough.

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I should have complimented you more often.

An athlete, a wordsmith, a designer, a fabulous father, my husband possesses myriad gifts that I should have praised more often. Were I to go back in time, I would have pointed out with greater frequency the talents of his that I so deeply admired.

I should have respected the way you argued.

While I raged, he disengaged—a pulling away that found me madder and more frustrated. I cannot change who I am, but going forward, I can temper my ire—and understand that we all navigate disputes differently.

I will cherish our memories together for life.

The first time I saw him. Christmas mornings with our daughter. Ice-skating at Lake Tahoe. Dining at five-star restaurants around the world. Bumping hips in the kitchen as we cooked. Laughing over a good movie, spooning in bed, toasting our glasses. All of these, and more, I will reflect back upon with a bittersweet mix of joy and nostalgia, always holding them near and dear to my heart.

I’m sorry.

When we were young, I thought my husband and I were indestructible. Despite our differences of opinion over innumerable issues. I apologize for the errors I made, the words I can’t undo, the pain I created. I want to tell him that I refuse to admit defeat, but I do accept that our time together has run its course; that I will always cheer him on from the sidelines. And from there, I say, thank you. You were my gift, my partner, my best friend, my goodbye.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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