Have you heard the title quote before? The first time I came across it was this week, and it really hit home. I believe the words “A Man with a Toothache Cannot Be in Love” originated with Shakespeare, but I’ve also seen the phrase attributed to Sigmund Freud in some internet searches. Regardless, I thought it was a cool quote with a potentially deep meaning.
So why did I notice these particular words when I read them? Well, I have been in pain this week. Nothing super-serious, but for almost an entire week, I have had some pretty intense pains in my neck and upper back.
As my wife would be quick to point out, this pain is self-inflicted as it originated after spending several days sleeping in a camper by night and bowhunting by day. I’m not sure exactly what I did, but it hurts and there is no good way to get neck pain out of your mind.
OK, so I have pain and I obviously have a low tolerance for it. Now you must be thinking, “Quit the whining and make a point about how this affects me and my relationships.” Thanks for asking!
As the title quote implies, we can sometimes allow our pain to overshadow other, more important aspects of our lives. This pain could be acute and physical like a throbbing toothache or a migraine. It could also be the spiritual pain of loss or grief. Or it may be the stress of financial difficulty, job loss or a difficult child.
My wife actually told me this week during one of our 15-minute discussions that I hadn’t been doing a very good job being romantic or helpful lately. And especially not in light of the fact that I was gone the previous weekend on my “guys trip.”
That’s when I saw the Shakespeare/Freud quote and it hit me like an Epiphany. I was allowing my own pain to overshadow my responsibilities to my wife and family. Not good.
There are many distractions in life that can affect our ability to properly prioritize our time and show love to those who are most important to us. However, we simply cannot allow this to happen. Our marriage comes first, and selfless love requires sacrifice even in the face of pain.
Of course, we are partners for a reason. When we are experiencing pain, whether it be physical or emotional, it is vital that we let our spouse know about it. I’m not talking about whining and complaining (though I’m good at that). I’m talking about reaching out for help when we need it. Whether it’s a simple neck rub or a late-night heart-to-heart about a career change, it is our spouse that we must be able to depend on in our times of pain.
It’s been a long week, but I have learned a lot. I have learned that I need to get in better shape so I’m not so susceptible to nagging injuries. I’ve learned that I can easily slip into a mode of selfishness where I let my own pain distort my priorities and let the romance in our marriage fade. And I have reaffirmed the fact that I have a fantastic wife who is understanding, open and forgiving.
Above all, I’ve learned that Shakespeare or Freud were wrong. Not only can a man with a toothache be in love, but he should be able to depend on his caring wife to help and support him. And he should buy her some flowers, hold her hand and let her know how much her love helps to ease his pain.
Photo by dannotti
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.