Having been (mostly) happily married for 42 years, I think I know what I’m talking about.
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
Well, sure. Especially at the beginning. Love thinks it’s adorable that she loves Russian folk music. Love is delighted to learn all about the rules of the professional basketball world that he loves so much.
Love is starry-eyed and golden and filled with many-splendored things.
Until love has been through a few years of bill paying, work, shopping, oil changes and bouts of stomach virus. Then love is a whole lot less patient and kind. Love is still love, but now it looks a bit more like a negotiation between equal partners in a business. You want to watch another NBA game? Cool. Next week we’re going to a folk music show.
“ I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.”
When we fall in love, we feel that our love is greater than anything that any other human has ever known. We feel our souls soaring above the mundane worries of the world.
But then we come down to earth. We might not want to, but we have to find a company to take away our trash, and that sort of breaks the spell. We need to set up a compost pile and we need to buy toilet paper. None of this is romantic. None of this makes our souls reach for the heavens.
We still love each other, of course, but now it feels a little more mundane. Our souls go back to sleep and we find ourselves thanking our beloved for remembering to scoop up the dog poop in the backyard.
“How do you know you’ve found ‘the one’ for you?”
Oh, my dears.
There is no “one.” It isn’t magic. It isn’t kismet or fate or meant-to-be by some amorphous power.
I’m a really nice person and a good wife. I was pretty damn cute when my husband fell in love with me back in the day.
But I would never for a single minute think that I’m the only person he could have ever loved.
Love, and falling in love, is dependent on time, place, circumstance and luck. Don’t ever question the love you have because you wonder if there is someone else out there for you. Of course there is “someone else” out there! But the someone you have now is the one you need to think about.
“You have the perfect relationship.”
No they don’t. Nope.
There is no ‘perfect’ relationship, just as there is no perfect person.
Good relationships are about laughing at each other and at yourselves. They are about having very short memories, and letting go of the little transgressions.
Love is about endurance. It’s about giving in. Love is about not counting and not measuring and not worrying.
Love is trust.
Love is the realization that all day long a part of your brain is thinking, “I can’t wait to tell him this.” It’s about the tiny moments of adjustment that will make her life a bit easier. Turning on her coffee pot when you hear her step out of the shower. Making him a sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch, even if he didn’t ask for it.
Love is letting go of the things that bug you.
It’s about picking up his socks every day for 40 years, knowing that one day those socks might not be there. It’s about not eating pasta three times a week, even though you thought you’d married an Italian cook.
Love is about not saying some things, but being sure to say others.
It’s about thanking each other for the things we’ve done for decades. It’s about acknowledging the struggle.
There is no “one” for you. There is no “perfect” relationship, no perfect marriage, no perfect love.
But long term love, the kind that lets you grow and learn, the kind that makes you the best person you can be, that love is out there. You just have to let go of the poetry and embrace the daily grind.
Then you’ll find that the stars really have aligned and you have actually found that most elusive of human experiences.
You will have found true love.