Paying Attention

I would like to think that I live my life with a sense of integrity and honesty. I try to treat people with respect and in the way that I would like to be treated. I do not think that this is how I treated Alex for the past several years.


During the years that we pushed away from each other I do not think my behavior was constructive, kind, or acceptable. To be fair we were both acting like that. We were snippy and disrespectful if we bothered to communicate at all. I often felt that what I thought was important was not important to him and I didn’t really care what he wanted either. I often felt invisible.


 One of the most unexpected and powerful gifts that this lifestyle has brought to us is what feels like an almost miraculous change to that reality. I feel that it is impossible to live like this without attention to each other. If he is going to hold me accountable to my promises and responsibilities to him and our marriage he must be paying attention to me. If he is going to decide what rules and structures we are going to live by he must care about that structure and pay attention that the rules are followed. If he is going to set standards, he must meet those standards himself and care enough to hold me to those expectations.


 In our relationship, that means that he can discipline me if those expectations are not met. That is a huge responsibility and one that he is still coming to terms with. I suppose we could do this without punishment but I think that it would be much easier to fall into old patterns and behaviors. Relationships are hard work and take constant vigilance. When everything is new and exciting it is not so hard to pay attention but as time passes standards relax and wane. Knowing that he will not let that happen, knowing that he will impose physical discipline if necessary gives each of us a reason to notice. He knows that if I have let something slide that something is wrong and he must bring me back to him. I know that if he is not doing that, I have the right to ask for the structures to be maintained.


 I spent a lot of time not caring what he wanted. The fact that today I judge my actions by whether or not he will like what I do is such an immense change. Today I find myself judging my actions by considering what his impressions of them will be. I make the bed in the morning because it makes him happy. I make sure to pick up and clean around the house because it is important to him to live in an organized space. That is hard for me and takes real effort because that is not often my top priority. But it has become so. It has become important to me to make him feel secure and I have to say that our house has never looked better. I don’t do this because he will punish. We have no real rules about this. I do this as a gesture of respect and caring.


 This is a change of mind and heart for me. I pay attention to his desires and he pays attention to my actions and we (hopefully) move forward together.

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  1. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that my husband holds himself to much higher standards than he used to. I don’t think they can hold us accountable for anything they don’t take seriously themselves. It is too conflicting and they know it would diminish our respect for them.

    • Zoe

       /  03/04/2012

      This is absolutely true. He has raised the standards for us both but he is definitely harder on himself sometimes.


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