I’ve been married now for almost 36 years. For our anniversary my husband and I are going on a cruise to Mexico and Honduras with the intention of learning more about the Mayan Ruins. It was a great culture, one marked wit all of the traits that civilizations develop. I’m bringing my cameras, so there will be photos. The last time we went was in 2006, on the Grandeur of the Seas. We ended up with two photos that really showed the spirit of the people. I’m glad to be going, we’ve gone through so much in the last decade that time seems to have slipped a bit for both of us. We survived a recession when my husband gave support to those we love who lost or couldn’t find a job. We survived a mortgage that we had with Countrywide, and the change that made it a Bank of America mortgage. We kept our house, my two children married (not to each other of course), and one is now a proud homeowner. The other now has his dream job, and should soon be able to find a home for his wife and himself in the next year. But we’ve spent the last decade trying to do everything we could for family, and exhausting as it was it was worth the effort, and I think we forgot about the two of us.
Our differences have really accentuated themselves recently. We find things that prickle under the skin and have to stop and shake our heads. It never bothered us to be different before. We just had not taken the time to talk about these things. Little things wedged themselves between us, you know, the three things that most couples deal with. Children, even grown ones, money, and time. Those three things can become doom scenarios in a relationship.
We decided not to have a doom scenario. He had a week of vacation last week that we spent together. I decided to become the romantic one. My husband decided to become the practical one. We talked about all of those prickly things. He made me dinner, I did the laundry. He pruned up the yard as I raked the magnolia leaves. He told me he liked the flowers I picked from my garden. I told him he was handsome. We went out to dinner. We walked the dogs together. All of these little bits of time spent talking. I told him I was worried that he wasn’t happy. He told me that he thought I wasn’t happy. We laughed. We made sure that as we walked or dined that we talked about each and every thought that was in our heads. In the end, it was the plain old boring things that you don’t have time to think of that made us both look at each other again. We’re partners, equal, willing to depend on each other.
Love isn’t that mad passionate wave that excludes people. Sex is nice (well, of course it is). That isn’t love either. Love is having someone there who isn’t trying to change you. Love is understanding that you will grow differently, but there will be so much to share. Music surrounds us both, and we find that our tastes have become more similar. Art surrounds us. Our families surround us. Our willingness to make a family less about love and more about the people that we surround ourselves with. Love is an adventure. It’s willing to take the wrong turn, but with a map to get it back on course. It’s the willingness to not give up. It’s the companionship of years of changes.
I’ve changed over time. I’ve kept the things that are the essential me alive though. I keep my silliness to bring a smile to his lips when he’s angry at the world. I’ve learned to understand that he needs to vent. He knows that physically I can’t keep up with the house. He doesn’t care. He wants me to be happy. He wants me to write. Dishes can wait until one or the other of us have the energy to do them. Usually it’s him these days. He said I don’t ever have to lift a hand to the house. He also likes working with me on the house when I can. We are at the point in life where we realize there is an end coming. It doesn’t frighten us. We just need the time to be together, the two of us.
A quiet room when the house is just us, and we sit and talk about the world. We read together, watch John Oliver together, and the house is tranquil. Our moral compass heading is identical. But the biggest change came this past week when he told me that he’s looking forward to the adventures we have coming. He wants to spend that time with me, exploring the world, taking a class together, being happy. I think that is what love is beyond all else.
Love is when something happens, good or bad, and you want to tell that person first, before all others. That sharing bond of excitement or sadness bring you close and then closer. I want time to be gentle enough so that we can walk to the finish line hand in hand and know that the greatest gift we ever had was each other.