True love requires selfless sacrifice from everyone who has the privilege of enjoying it. The most difficult, and probably the most meaningful sacrifices are the small ones we make every day to put the person we love before ourselves. —Nate Bagley
After 10 years of marriage, a couple could reasonably assume they know most everything about their spouse. Fights over the toilet seat or how to put the silverware in the dishwasher have probably long since been abandoned. Similarities have been found, and different hobbies and interests have been established.
But for one man, it was just after he and his wife hit their 10-year marriage mark that things dramatically changed — in particular, his wife.
Now 30 years later, this husband, who is referred to as Jim, tells his story to Nate Bagley with Loveumentary about how he had to learn to love his wife all over again.
As the podcast begins, Jim explains that about 30 years ago his wife had a pituitary tumor and had to have brain surgery. Since the surgery, Jim said that many of his wife's personality traits changed.
"My wife and I have been married more than 40 years, that's a long time," Jim shared in the podcast. "And over the years, I think because of the surgery, she's had some of the traits that we really appreciated from her, have gone by the wayside. There are many characteristics that she has currently that she didn't have when we got married. She's a different person."
When asked to give an example of something that changed, Jim shared that his wife is not nearly as outgoing as she used to be. But he continued to express that it's hard to give examples because most of the changes are small things that add up.
"If I had to sit down and make a list about how she's different, it would be problematic because it's not as much that there is point A, point B, point C that are different. It's more just a number of small things that are different about her," Jim said.
Memories are also hard, as Jim's wife has a difficult time recalling some long- and short-term events.
"She doesn't realize she's forgotten," Jim said. "We can be watching a TV program or go to watch an old movie and it's like it's brand new to her."
Although it has been difficult, and frustrating for both Jim and his wife to adjust, what gets him through is his love for her and his eternal perspective.
"Part of what helps me is to remember how she used to be. Being religious, we believe in the resurrection and that things will be made right," Jim said.
"My goal in life is to help her be happy, and there's a lot of things I can do to help her be happy and sometimes those are frustrating to me and I know they're frustrating to her, but we're working through those."
Throughout the process, Jim has continued to think of his wife, rather than his own concerns, saying that in any marriage it is necessary to view the relationship as a union.
"You always keep the 'us' foremost in your mind, and not split it back to the me and the you because then selfishness enters in — maybe on one side, maybe on the other side, but usually on both sides."
Jim often compares the lessons he's learned through this process to what many couples are forced to learn later in life. When kids move away and a husband and wife have more time alone with each other, Jim explained that this same reconnection needs to take place.
"A lot of times there are communications that need to be rebuilt. You can't just assume that you can plop down in front of the TV at night and assume things are going to be like they were when you were first newlyweds," Jim said. "You need to bring excitement and new things to your marriage."
For Jim and his wife, they have found that traveling is something they both enjoy and so they do it often. Jim said when they were first married, they loved to explore new things and take weekend trips, and now, 40 years later, they have been able to bring back that same excitement.
"She's made me more patient," Jim said. "She has dreams about what she'd like to do around the house, in terms of remodeling and redecorating, and so we're trying to do that. It makes me happy when she's happy."
More of Jim's story can be found on the Loveumentary website where Bagley has shared many other stories of what he deems true love. Through his efforts to document love, Bagley has "enjoyed coming to know what real, loving, lasting relationships really look like from the inside."
The goal of his documentaries is to capture the most compelling love stories in America and compile them into a book and audio format. Bagley and his partner, Melissa, have also started a Kickstarter fundraiser to raise the money necessary for the project.
Although the project is not yet complete, Bagley said he has already learned much.
"True love requires selfless sacrifice from everyone who has the privilege of enjoying it," Bagley said. "The most difficult, and probably the most meaningful sacrifices, are the small ones we make every day to put the person we love before ourselves. This is the side of love that is not always glamorous. It is work, and effort, and consistency. But from what I've gathered, no work is as rewarding or fulfilling as the work that comes from the heart."