We were married as my husband finished a summer job as a camp counselor. Since Anwar's new job didn't start for another month, we spent an extended honeymoon holed up in our apartment. During that month I grew accustomed to being Anwar's life.
When the honeymoon inevitably ended, Anwar headed off to his job selling tires while I worked from home on freelance writing projects. The apartment felt empty without him.
Anticipating his return each night, I'd rush to throw my arms around him. "How are you? Did you have a good day?" I'd chatter. "I talked to my sister, and …"
Anwar would chuckle, listening attentively as I described my day and sharing his own.
Over the next two weeks, however, I noticed he'd gradually stopped smiling and listening. One night, he actually interrupted me.
"Baby, what's for dinner?"
Momentarily thrown, I rallied. "Uh, just throw some hot dogs on the grill. So, anyway, my sister says …"
Anwar walked into the kitchen, put the dogs on the grill, and then headed for the shower. My jaw dropped. He ignored me!
As the days passed, things grew worse. When Anwar tried to spend time away from me, I responded with resentment. I missed him after a long day of work. Why didn't he feel the same?
Hating the tension between us, I made a reservation at the restaurant where we had our first date, hoping to rekindle some romance. Unfortunately, I was trying too hard to be "normal," and our conversation felt awkward and stilted.
"So, how was your day?"
"Fine." Silence. "Yours?"
Finally, as we were paying the check, I blurted, "You don't talk to me the way you used to. What's wrong?"
Anwar sighed. "I'm feeling a lot of pressure at work.
I need you to give me some space."
For once, I was speechless.
Walking to the car, my stomach churned. I'd believed marriage would bring Anwar and me closer. But now he wanted "space"?
Since the restaurant was close to home, I decided to walk, thinking—rather melodramatically—that Anwar could have his "space" on the car ride home. It only added fuel to the fire when he didn't try to stop me.
By the time I arrived home, Anwar was in our studio, working. Feeling the need to vent, I called my Aunt Lucy.
"Laura, give the man a break," she told me. "You don't have to be together every moment to show you love him, or to know he loves you."
She'd put her finger on my insecurity. Instead of understanding Anwar's need to relax and pursue other interests, I'd taken it personally, worrying he loved me less. Rather than bringing him closer, my clinging and pestering was driving him away.
"You're right," I agreed, sniffling. "I'll give it a try."
As I hung up, Anwar wandered in and scooped me into his arms. "Why did you walk home?" he asked. "Are you that upset with me?"
"You said you needed space."
He laughed. "I just needed an hour. It's been rough, merging my whole world with someone else's. I'm used to coming home and napping or chilling out."
"Really?" I felt relieved and foolish at my over-reaction.
The following evening, I didn't attack Anwar as he came through the door. "I made a turkey," I said, after greeting him with a kiss. "Go ahead and shower—just let me know when you're ready to eat."
He blinked, then grinned—the smile I'd been missing. "Thanks."
After dinner I left him alone to work. To my surprise and delight, he came to me to talk about the day.
At first it was a constant struggle to change my "me first" attitude. I found encouragement in Scripture verses such as Mark 10:43-45: "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve." Putting Anwar's needs before my own has taught me not just to be a better wife, but to be more like Christ.
On the practical side, meeting Anwar's need for space benefits me as well. A happy, relaxed Anwar is considerably more fun to spend time with than a hungry, exhausted one.
Surprisingly, granting each other space has sparked more romance than any fancy dinner at a fine restaurant. Allowing Anwar time for the things he's passionate about, such as playing guitar and writing poetry, reminds me what a unique man I fell in love with. We come back together refreshed, recharged, and better able to focus on each other. Turns out that old saying is true—a little bit of absence really can make the heart grow fonder!
Laura and Anwar Allen: married 1 year; met: through mutual drug dealer in college (their "Before Christ" years); favorite movie: Ratatouille
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