You think you’ve stolen him from me, but you haven’t.
You’ve only borrowed him
Like someone borrows a library book to enjoy for a little while
And then you have to return it.
Think of me as the librarian.
He always comes back to me.
Our home is where he belongs.
A man can’t possibly belong to you until
You’ve laughed with him a million times
You’ve held him while he cries
You’ve been with him to watch dreams come true
You’ve stood by him as dreams were shattered
You’ve given birth to his children and seen him enveloped in awe and love
You’ve washed his dirty underwear
You’ve held his hand at weddings and funerals and birthday parties
You’ve prayed with him and for him
You’ve forgiven him a thousand times
You’ve asked for his forgiveness a thousand times
You’ve shared meals with him and then washed the dishes while he dried
You’ve waited, terrified, beside his hospital bed
You’ve cleaned up his vomit
You’ve waited up late with him, waiting for a teenager to come home
You’ve bought and wrapped Christmas presents for his side of the family
You’ve awakened after surgery to see his face, lined with worry, smiling at you
You’ve fought with him bitterly and made up with him lovingly
You’ve let him down terribly and and discovered he still loves you
You’ve shared with him all the things you’d never share with another
You’ve loved him unconditionally
That means “no matter what”
But even then he really doesn’t belong to us
He’ll always be his own man
No one can own him
We can only enjoy as much of him as he has chosen to share with us
You think you’ve owned a part of him because you gave him your body
Your body – younger, softer, thinner, tighter, prettier than mine
You think that sex gives you power
Sex is your currency and it buys you many things
Money, attention, maybe even a moment of self-esteem
But the very youth you offer is too young to know that
Sex can’t compete with what I offer
My currency is real love, family
Your currency lasts a moment
Mine lasts a lifetime.
It’s not that you mean nothing to him
You’ve given him something I can’t
A recaptured youth
The opportunity to be just a man to a woman,
And not a father, provider, plumber, handyman, and errand boy, too
The chance to look into a woman’s eyes knowing she doesn’t see the ugly sides of him
Hot, passionate sex that is only sex
Newness, novelty, discovery
A moment of freedom from all demands of life
A flicker of a sense of timelessness and, yes, even immortality.
And, in a very strange way, I love you for it
Because I want him to have everything
Everything he needs to feel whole and complete
I want the times he’s with me and our children to be because he chooses us,
Not because he’s been held hostage for sex.
I love him enough to forgive his weaknesses
And to accept his needs that I can’t fill.
You see, you haven’t stolen anything
You haven’t won anything
Because this life isn’t a battle or a competition
It’s about experiencing and sharing
And getting to know ourselves and others
And giving more than we get
And loving – It’s mostly about loving
I’m not angry at you
I’ve been you
In my younger years when I didn’t understand what I really wanted
And I didn’t know what real love was.
I know you.
And as much as I may try, at times, to forget you,
We’re connected, and we always will be
Because we both cared about the same man, the man I love over all others
The man I’ve known and loved for almost 30 years.
As a child of God, a woman, and a human being trying to find her way,
I am you.
I know what is expected of me.
The world says I should be bitter and angry
That I should hate you and him and myself
That I should let his choice to share a tiny part of his life with you
Negate the beauty and love of the decades he has shared with me.
I’m supposed to make his life miserable
And I’m supposed to rip my family apart and pull my children from their father
All because, for a little while, he needed and wanted you.
I won’t do it.
I choose love.
I choose love now and every day.
I choose love whether or not it feels good at the time.
And for you I pray that someday you’ll find a love
Like the one he and I have shared for so long.
Because I’ve been you I know that’s what you’ve been searching for and
What you desperately want.
Just understand that you can’t find it by borrowing someone else’s love.
That’s just a mirage.
You’ll have to find it by offering more than your body
And giving your love without expecting anything in return.
Then, one day you’ll realize that you’re worth having it all
And not just minutes of another woman’s husband.
I want you to choose that for yourself.