I’ve learned the most about what Love is through my marriage and from my husband. I read a beautiful quote once that summed it up perfectly, it goes like this:
The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. This is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don’t last. You might think you Love someone until you see the way they act when they’re out of money or under pressure or hungry, for goodness sake. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart. Love is patient and kind. Love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice. It’s seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship.
– Author Unknown
The truth is that the only kind of real Love there is, is unconditional. That’s what Love is, it’s dedicated and unwavering. Love is being there, even when you feel the desire to escape it or change it. Love is seeing someone’s cruelty, ugliness and hatred and choosing them anyway. Love is seeing beyond the stubborn, the negative, the moody and loving them anyway. Everything beyond total acceptance and tolerance is just lust, infatuation or fear.
Let’s be clear, I by no means think someone should stay in a relationship that is not fulfilling on the soul level. I by no means think someone should stay in an abusive relationship. I by no means condone someone staying in a relationship that they are not happy in. I’m saying that you may not be happy all the time. I am saying that when you look deep in your partner’s eyes, you know. You know deep down if the desire to run is there because you don’t want to deal with the life lessons that are being presented to you through your partner.
See our life partner and those we are closest to in our lives are our greatest sources of growth. They hold up a mirror at all times for the depths we need to explore within ourselves. They shine a light on the work we need to do on ourselves. They see the worst in us and the best. And we see the same in them.
By far the two largest strains on my marriage have been children (2, just 18 months apart) and our past. It’s pretty clear why having two small kids will strain your marriage (though you would never be able to anticipate this ahead of time). You’re exhausted first of all, pretty much all the time. When does that leave time for romance, connection or even sex? Um, basically it doesn’t. And when it does, there is this small hurdle of ‘work’ that has to be put in before you reap the rewards. It’s not all bad, all the time though. 2017 is actually the year I have had the most rewarding intimacy with my husband, albeit sparse perhaps this is a sign that the best is yet to come. The needs of our children far outweigh our own. They demand all of us, all the time. This barely leaves room for each other. So we do the best we can. We have date nights when the babysitter is available. We stay up way too late sometimes, just spending time together or doing whatever we did independently before we (temporarily) sacrificed our freedoms. We text a lot when we’re not physically together. We’ve managed to get away overnight about 4 times in 4 years (totally not enough and better than nothing). And one day (too soon I’m sure it will feel) we’ll be empty nesters and we’ll have 100% of each other again. Or so I think...or so I desire. The truth is, I really don’t know what the future will hold. I’m certainly not wishing this time away and I am certainly not longing to be an empty nester any time soon. I do have a sense that when the time comes we will be grateful for it. And don’t get me wrong, we are grateful now, just in an entirely different way. The second largest strain on our marriage has been our past. When the going gets tough we often look to the past to tell us what we are capable of or who we need to be (we do this as adults a lot and not only in our marriages). And when you’ve had a somewhat bumpy road at times, this can feel totally defeating. You might tell yourself history is repeating or the worst is yet to come. I have to remember that our past does not define us. Nor are we destined to repeat it. What we must do, what we can do is keep growing, keep learning about ourselves and each other and share in this journey together as best we can. We get to look at the people we were in our past and allow it to help shape the people we want to become in our future. What is available to all of us, right now is the ability to be vulnerable and share. And most importantly what is available to all of us right now, is Love.