Falling in love again and again
Lee Ann Garrison and I have been married for more than 33 years. At the moment, we’re crazy about each other, infatuated, much as we were at the start, only better.
It’s not always like that. We always love each other, but we’re not always in love as in, you know — in ♥love♥! Sometimes we can barely stand each other.
That’s only natural. Given the romance-crushing stress related to children, extended families, money, sex, careers, mutually life-changing decisions, housework, illness and so on, conflict is certain to flare.
All of that seems obvious, but when you’re 20-something and head over heels on the way to marriage, you don’t see any of that coming. She’s (he’s) perfect! What could possibly go wrong, ever?
When something does go wrong, it comes as a shock. Early on, you don’t realize that falling out of infatuation is not the same as falling out of love. Then you make up, get back where you were, everything’s fine… and then something goes wrong again! Oh no!
What a panic, in youth, to suddenly see marriage as an endless, unpredictable tumble of skirmishes, loving alliances, uneasy truces and passionate affairs.
The bad news: That’s what marriage is. The good news: That’s what marriage is.
True love does not come and go with the shifting weather of a relationship. It remains steadfast throughout, a bedrock of respect and partnership. When both partners come to understand that love is not the same as fleeting passions, be they positive or negative, the highs become more precious and the lows more tolerable — and shorter. You start to see the humor in your own and your partner’s shortcomings and your impatience with them.
He: You know last Thursday, when you said it was recycling day, but you were wrong? When you made me take all that junk out, and then they never hauled it away? And then I had to put it all back, all because you had the day wrong? Well, today is the fourth Thursday of the month, and I remembered to take it out, and it’s gone.
He: No, I took it out. Because it was a big mess all over the garage and I had to pack it all first.
She: No, I took it out because I was late for work and was afraid we’d miss the truck, so I did it all anyway, and I was late.
He: No, I’m sure that I took it out.
She: Aaargh! I hate it when you are so sure about something and so wrong.
My wife has never had a flamenco dance lesson in her life, but at this point her frustration drove her to drum her heels into the floor with the fury of Cristina Hoyos. I tell you, it was adorable!
When something like this occurs early in a marriage, it can lead to a big fight and several chilly days. But now we’ve been through far worse a thousand times. Two minutes after the flamenco outbreak, we were laughing. These days, even when we’re at odds over more serious matters, we know that no matter what, our love will bear up to the pressures within the relationship and from the outside world.
Maturity and perspective have made it easier to put aside pique and impatience. Even on our most quarrelsome days, we manage to say, “I love you.”
He: You love me? Even though I’m a total moron and you can’t stand me?
She: Yes. Yes, I do.
That’s real love, grown-up love. Happy Valentine’s Day, to my dearest Lee Ann and to everyone.