Old Farts in Love
Paul and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary yesterday by enjoying a room service meal while in our jammies, sitting up in a king-sized bed at our favourite downtown hotel. Today, we are each engaged in writing our own 250-word short story for a flash fiction contest. We are in our wedded bliss.
There is so much focus on young love, newly-weds, 20-somethings who tie the knot and have their whole lives ahead of them. There is something truly miraculous and hopeful about building a long life together, becoming parents or not, journeying through life's varied benchmarks and making the best of it. That is worth celebrating.
But, this blog is a shout out to old fart love. We are the ones who have come through the other side of the busy-ness. Our children are raised. Our debts are few. Our time is our own. Paul and I choose to spend it at each other's side. There is a calmness, a certainty that comes with aged love. The struggle to find ourselves as individuals is over; we know who we are and we're okay with that. It makes for a mostly rocky road-free life.
The door slamming, the shouting, and the pouting are behind us. We've gotten to that hard-earned magical place in a relationship where nothing is worth the breaking of our hearts. It is this constancy of love and respect in which we find strength.
When we're young, it's hard to imagine a life without strife, without fights, without tears, and anger, and feelings of betrayal. And rightly so - that is the stuff on which worthwhile relationships are built. When you're older, you don't really need to prove your worth or assert your uniqueness. Instead, there is an acceptance of that which is. A wise discernment borne of picking one's battles wisely.
Every year, Paul buys me an anniversary card over which we both bawl. We cannot look each other in the eye without bawling. We cannot talk about our love for each other without bawling. Yes, there's a lot of bawling in our cozy little world. I have come to understand that our connection is at the soul level. We are connected to each other in a huge, infinite, timeless way. No matter who we are as human beings, it feels very small compared to the universe-sized, black hole-deep affection we have for one another. That level of bonding is impossible to break.
Not to say it's all been a bed of roses. Nothing worth having is ever easy. It's the fight to keep it going that oxygenates the fire. Even when the embers are very small and fragile, at risk of going out altogether, renewed engagement and faith will be their bellows. (Good lord, the phrasing I come up with!).
Although, that said, Paul and I are both second marriages. We each had what I affectionately call "starter spouses". The best thing to have come out of those relationships was our respective children for whom we are both eternally grateful. Not all marriages work out. And I'd be the last person to suggest one stick it out like they did in the old days. There is no need to be miserable but there is something to be said for commitment. It's the training ground for grit and fortitude and, if the stars are aligned, for lasting companionship. If together you can create a place of safety where your true selves are encouraged to come out to play, you've created the best kind of love.
The early, honeymoon phase of love is easy. It's that time in a new relationship when we have our blinders on. All we can see is beauty, and cleverness, honesty and kindness. The world, literally, seems like a brighter, kinder place. This is not the stage at which to make big life decisions like marriage, or kids, or even living together. It's the next stage, the truly challenging one when the veil of roses is pulled back and you get a glimpse of the real person - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Making it through this phase, which can last for years, is where most relationships fall apart. Reality can be a bitch; that's a true fact.
But here's the good news - get yourselves through this phase any way you can. Because the rewards of mature inter-dependent love are so worth it.
Paul, in case I haven't made myself abundantly clear over the years, I love you.