I have been married for over thirty-six years. I've been in love with him for forty-one. Maybe it's Valentine's Day that started me thinking about love.
Little girls dream of finding that one true love, aided by books, movies. Often unrealistic dreams are encouraged by the "happily-ever-after" stuff of fairy tales. So that when a perfectly good man comes along, we sometimes don't see him. Or if we marry him, we expect perfectly loving days and nights of glorious passion.
Here's a news flash, girls - it's not like that. It's much less, and much more. It's real life, and real love.
One of my favorite songs id from "The King and I", called "Something Wonderful". The king's head wife sings of the reality of loving a real human man:
"He will not always say
What you would have him say,
But now and then he'll say
The thoughtless things he'll do
Will hurt and worry you,
Then all at once he'll do
He has a thousand dreams that won't come true.
You know that he believes in them, and that's enough for you.
You'll always go along,
Defend him when he's wrong,
And tell him when he's strong
He is wonderful.
He'll always need your love,
And so he'll get your love.
A man who needs your love
Can be wonderful."
It sounds so old-fashioned in this day of lack of commitment, quickie relationships, divorce and do your own thing. But Robert Heinlein said, "Love is that state in which another person's happiness is essential to your own."
Really? Not, "He doesn't make me happy" or "She doesn't want sex with me often enough"?
We should be trying to make them happy? How odd.
But, as many odd things do - it works. When we try to make the other happy, we get back what we want, usually more abundantly than we would if we stood around yammering about our needs and wants not being fulfilled.
I love my husband. He is honest, hard-working, kind to strangers, loving to our sons and me, not to mention our three dogs and grandson. I plan to live the rest of my life with him, unless he goes first.
We met when I was fifteen and he seventeen, and bonded like swans, for life. I told my father I was going to marry him someday, and he said, "Oh, you're too young to know that. You'll fall in and out of love a dozen times before you marry."
I said, "Oh, no! I can only do this once!" It was too big and all encompassing, this love, this absolute pit-of-the-stomach certainty that he was The One. I have no idea how I knew. I married him five years later, when I was twenty. We eloped and later my father wrote me a sweet letter wishing us well.
There have been many trials through the years, many times when either one of us was tempted to chuck it all and be single. But there remained the bonding, the certainty that we were supposed to stick. So we have apologized, looked the other way at each other's foibles, fought loudly and passionately when we couldn't look the other way, and ultimately fallen asleep in each other's arms, cuddling like puppies.
This is real love, I'm afraid. I think we are stuck with each other. And as I watch him sleep, I think I love to be stuck loving him.