There is a light
Thanks GalaGirl. I appreciate the support. After I posted earlier I started typing to organize my thoughts and prepare for one last effort with Leaf. I am a writer and can always express myself better in type than when I wing it in coversation.
I started with a list of everything I love about Leaf and everything I love about our relationship. This was the easy part.
Then I wrote a list of questions. Ranging from really personal questions about how we feel (myself, Leaf and Flower), practical questions about our plans for the future and financial situation, deep questions about our values and the things we believe. The list of questions was two pages long. Some of the questions were very hard to ask, and I realized I was scared of the answers to some of them.
I finished with a short, concise list of the things that I need right now and the things I don't need. I asked for specific, measurable goals in our relationship surrounding affection and intimacy. I asked for more honesty and less fear that the truth will hurt - as the hiding is what actually hurts, not the truth. I asked for patience and forgiveness. And I asked Leaf to really talk to Flower about where this is going.
I also wrote that these needs will be discussed weekly and revised as needed. We will take the time to check in and make sure everyone is having their needs met.
Leaf came home from school and we sat down. I looked at my notes and it helped keep me grounded and on topic. We started with my list of things I love about him and us. Then I asked him to share some things he loves about me and our relationship and he did. It was wonderful to say and hear those things out loud.
I found out immediately why our other talks were so one sided and difficult. This time my eyes were dry and my voice was steady. When I am visibly emotional and weepy, Leaf gets scared and shuts up. He doesn't say a word for fear that he will make me feel worse. This time he was open and talkative. We didn't answer every one of the questions with a definitive, but we talked at length over every one and found we really are more on the same page than we thought. The questions we couldn't answer will be topics to revisit later, but keep in mind until then.
We found that the NRE is powerful and confusing for Leaf right now, but he is absolutely willing to rekindle some energy in our relationship. He doesn't have to try and show his love for Flower - it just happens. But he has taken me for granted and must make more effort to show his love. He does love me and he would like to always be with me. I feel like we are a unit again. We are tackling this together rather than just battling with our own thoughts individually.
I am uplifted. The list of needs is on the fridge and we will take it one day at a time. I just needed to lay it out, explain myself rationally, and make sure I knew exactly what I was asking for and he responded eagerly. I was afraid of dictating specifics - but it worked.