How One Word Transformed My Marriage

Seeing my husband as a gift, rather than an imposition, helped us deepen our relationship

Lydia Sohn
Human Parts


My family.

ItIt goes down as one of the most humiliating moments of my life. Here I was, a graduate student at Yale University, the school I’d dreamt of attending since childhood. But instead of making my way through the charming coffee shops of downtown New Haven or reading Thomas Aquinas in a musty library with stained glass windows, I found myself weeping in my professor’s office. I needed an extension, I admitted through downturned teary eyes, because my boyfriend and I were arguing too much. It also goes down as one of the most merciful moments of my life. My professor kindly responded, “One needn’t know the two of you very well to know how opposite you are.”

I did manage to get that extension, but my professor provided me with something even more comforting: recognition and compassion for my situation. My deep-felt shame for having continual, intense conflicts with my boyfriend suddenly lifted because even this person who barely knew us could see how different we were, yet how hard we were trying to make it work.

Our differences are marked, if somewhat stereotypically gendered. I’m sensitive, introspective, and emotive, whereas James focuses on his external surroundings instead of his…