Love, Or Something Like It
In Love, Or Something Like It, our new Metro.co.uk series, we’re on a quest to find true love.
Covering everything from mating, dating and procreating to lust and loss, we’ll be looking at what love is and how to find it in the present day.
As a man I think it’s very easy to say the words ‘I love you’, to buy little gifts, to unload the dishwasher without being asked. Surely, me cleaning up my muddy trainers was enough to prove to my wife that I loved her?
But then my wife was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly these superficial gestures, the ones most men break out when they need to show a bit of affection, weren’t enough.
She was told that as part of her fight against the disease she’d have to have major bowel surgery and would be left with a colostomy bag for at least nine months, possibly for life.
Whilst she worried about her cancer, she also worried that I wouldn’t look at her the same way (Picture: Chris Willis-Baugh)I honestly couldn’t care less about what she would have to have done. The scars, the changes to her body, none of it mattered to me. I knew that I would love her no matter what she looked like, no matter how she felt, whatever it is. But as I found out a few weeks into this journey, she didn’t know this.
Whilst she worried about her cancer, how far it might have spread and what the outcome would be, she also worried that I wouldn’t look at her the same way. That I wouldn’t find her attractive or that I wouldn’t love her anymore.
Throughout all the doctor’s appointments, the hours spent waiting in hospital cafes, the surgeries and chemotherapy, the thing that hurt me most, that dug its way deepest into my soul, was finding out that my wife didn’t understand how much I loved her.
She had been worrying that I might walk away from it all, from her, just because of someone superficial change. She thought it would be that easy for me.
Her small admission of fear hit me far harder than hearing the words ‘your wife has cancer’ (Picture: Chris Willis-Baugh)Her small admission of fear, amongst all the fears that she must have had at that time, hit me far harder than hearing the words ‘your wife has cancer’.
So I asked the nurses to teach me how to help her with all the things she would need to do, especially dealing with the colostomy bag. So that she would know it didn’t bother me.
The experience was emotional for both of us but I was taught how to give her the daily injections she needs for three weeks after leaving hospital. I was there for her appointments and 18 hour days in the hospital.
I wanted to be shown the things that she would have to do herself – not so that I could do them for her – so that she knew I was there and committed to being involved in everything her diagnosis brought with it.
I continue to make sure she knows I love her, properly, each day (Picture: Chris Willis-Baugh)Whatever your little display of ‘affection’ is, we all are guilty of thinking it’s enough to show the person who is central to our universe that we care. That they really are the only thing that keeps our world turning.
If I’m honest, it was only being faced with the possibility of losing someone, for whatever reason, that the complacency that had inevitably grown into our relationship showed itself.
Today my relationship with my wife is as strong as it ever was and I continue to make sure she knows I love her, properly, each day – I don’t flippantly say it on the phone, or casually as I walk out the door to work in the morning.
And I implore you to learn from my mistakes. Make sure every chance you get, that you show the person who you couldn’t envisage living without, how much they mean to you.
Physically tell them. Sit them down, look them in the eye and tell them not just those three easy words, but explain why you love them – why they are the only thing in the world you couldn’t live without. That no matter what may come around the corner in the future, you don’t care and you’ll be there.
Because one day, for whatever reason, you may be faced with the possibility that you can’t say it and that you’ve missed your chance.
Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: I’m marrying below my expectations and I couldn’t be happier
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