When Ryan and I first started dating, I told him that if he ever cheated on me, I would leave him. I loved him hard and I loved him and only him. I was clingy (I mean super clingy), jealous, and loved his attention, and in return, he would get someone who would do anything for him. Back then, I had a very no-nonsense attitude about relationships and my opinion about cheating was very black and white. If you have sex another, girl – definitely cheating. If you kiss another girl, even drunkenly at a party – still cheating. I mean, if you put yourself in a situation where there’s alcohol and you have the opportunity to kiss someone else, that’s just not very smart. And if you even talk to another girl – yes, still cheating. There was no in between, semi-cheating, “I-cheated-but-it-didn’t-mean-anything-to-me” – I must not mean anything to you if you decide to any of the above-mentioned to me. Simple as that.
I carried a lot of my high school jealousy into my marriage. Actually all of it. And Ryan knew this, so if there was ever a time when jealousy came out, he was very, very good at allaying my fears and insecurities. That’s what good husbands do. He has never purposely tried to hurt my feelings or make me jealous about anything. He never brought up his past, other girls, etc., no matter how mad he got. He trivialized every past experience – kiss, touch, etc. – to the point where he was disgusted by anything that didn’t involve me. It made me feel really good. His job as a man and as a husband was to keep me from succumbing to my weakness. Some people need a workout partner, some need an AA sponsor, others need support groups. Ryan was my support group, and yes, I needed it…for a long time. It’s as if he was engineered to handle my jealous, clingy personality.
Am I proud of my old self? Not really. I certainly didn’t set out to be the way I was. It’s just how I was. Ryan’s personality and sensitivity complemented my clinginess and qualms. If we were Tetris blocks, he’d be the square-block to my inverse L-block. I can’t imagine how excruciatingly tiresome it must have been to be this 24-hour lion tamer, well lioness tamer, always having to keep me fed, happy, calm, from attacking everyone in the circus, figuratively speaking. I just know I couldn’t do it.
Now, fast-forwarding 15 years after we said our I-dos and it’s difficult to imagine myself how I used to be. I recall how I felt, but I can’t imagine being that way. I empathize with the old me, but now I just see myself as plain silly. I would refer to myself now as the “adult” me, but being an adult means more than just reaching age 18 or getting married, having kids, or being in a long-term relationship. It’s about emotional maturity and the capability to reason. THAT is the adult me.
However, I often wonder: where did all my jealousy go? It didn’t go away overnight. It was a very gradual change which took a lot of work on both of our parts. I no longer rely on threatening to leave Ryan if he cheated on me, because it was really just an empty threat. We’ve spent half our time on Earth together and in that time he has proven that he had no intentions on cheating on me (by any of my definitions). It took years to earn my trust and it shouldn’t go unrewarded. In return we talked in-depth about threesomes, open relationships, and of course, dealing with our changing outlook on our marriage.
Since becoming more receptive to conversations never-spoken as little as five years ago, we’ve change fundamentally the people we’ve been. We’ve been closer, we argue more communicate more, which can lead to debates and arguments, but like passing gas, it feels so much better to let it out than to keep it. We talk like how we used to when we were young and in love and trying to get to know each other more. And we’re doing it again, finding ourselves and establishing our roles in our marriage and relationship. Only the jealousies are near non-existent. Because I’d be lying if I said I had absolutely no traces of the old me. It’s this little bit left that Ryan smiles at when I blow up his texts, when he gets 5 missed calls from me, and when he kisses me on the forehead after finally coming home from…wherever. The foundation that our relationship was built on, i.e. my jealousies and his nurturing, remains, and everything that’s built up on it over time is supported by it.