One of my favorite television shows is the old Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a 1982 production of the Royal Shakespeare Company. If you have seen it, you cannot forget it. It was 9 hours long. 

Anyway, there is a point in the story where a young actress (Miss Petowker) agrees to marry an older man, Mr. Lillyvick. He loves her greatly, in his way, but she seems really mixed on the issue. She repeatedly asks her friends "does he appreciate all I've given up for him," in various phrases. She wants to know that he will value all that she has given up. She never says a word about valuing him. 

This is such an easy trap for a wife or husband. Each has a very real and strong notion of "what I have given up" for the other, but only a very nebulous and general idea that the other person gave up anything. It is very understandable, but is also a terrible sign of trouble. 

When you enter marriage, you are never to focus on what you are giving up. Each party gives up a great deal in order to marry. Each person makes a vow they would not otherwise have to make. Each party takes on a lifetime commitment to another person. 

The key is to avoid this question entirely. Erase it from your mind. It is a never-ending trap of bitterness and unhappiness and cruelty. You will never know if he "appreciates" it enough, because there is no way to measure such a thing. All you know is that you are married. You are committed to him. Having a conversation where you compare burdens is not wise at all.

Never ask such a question, even in the quiet of your own heart. When you feel that question coming up, stop it. It does not matter how he feels about what you think you gave up, what matters is your commitment to one another. 

In sports, coaches talk about the importance of deciding on a shot and committing to it. You cannot succeed if you are not committed. Looking backward is not helpful. 

Finally, I would say this. It is never about whether he "appreciates" something you "gave up." The question is whether he loves you and you love him. Who cares what he thinks of things in your life if he loves you? Do you spend much time thinking of things from his pre-marital life? 

Love your husband. That is the key. Creating false, self-justifying demands relating to past events and activities is not an act of love. 

in the story, the marriage failed. Do not let that be your story.

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