Today is a big day. Today I am celebrating 14 years with my lovely lady. Fourteen years since the day I decided I only wanted to be with her, and I only wanted her to be with me too. Fourteen years since she told me she wanted the same, and we started this strange and wonderful journey together.
This anniversary doesn’t feel like an especially exciting one, but I think for good reason. I think we have come to the point where anniversaries are less of an accomplishment and more of an inevitability. Now, instead of celebrating by doing something special and new, we do things the things we always do because they are our favorite things. I like it better this way. It feels like honoring how far we have come and who we are together.
I would like to honor what we have learned along the way by sharing it with you.
When I was young, and my love and I were first together, I thought that love was about perfection. I thought that love was proof of her perfection and mine, and our perfect perfection together. I thought once she started to find faults with me, that she must be falling out of love. I thought that since I saw faults in her, she must not be the one.
I learned that love is about accepting imperfection, in each other and in your relationship. The trick is finding more good than bad in one another and always striving to do better.
I learned that the person who loves you is the only one who can show you your faults in a way that makes you love yourself despite them. I learned that only seeing the good in a person and making them perfect in your mind is cruel. It is cruel because the illusion will fade and the fall will be worse than if you had both been honest and loved one another, flaws and all, from the beginning.
When I was young, and my love and I were first together, I thought that love was only expressed with kindness, empathy, and generosity. I thought fighting meant you weren’t in love and when my girlfriend and I began to fight I became afraid. When I saw her anger I thought she didn’t love me, and when I felt angry it was only my frustration at trying and failing to make her and us happy.
I learned that sometimes love is expressed through actions and feelings that look nothing like love. Sometimes love is angry and mean. Sometimes love is scared and jealous. Sometimes love hurts and is hurting.
No one comes out of their childhood unscathed, and no one comes into a relationship emotionally unburdened. Everything we were taught about how love should feel and be expressed becomes what we expect from the one we’ve chosen to spend our lives with. When our expectations aren’t met, it scares us, and we react in irrational ways.
We try to change, control, and cage each other, thinking we will escape a terrible fate. I will tell you if you do that you will set yourself on a course for failure and heartbreak.
When I was young, and my love and I were first together, I thought that love was the prize. I thought once promises were made to spend eternity together there was no need to chase and earn that love again. I thought the fight was over, the rest of my life only need be lived, but when we both became restless and feared being taken for granted, I thought I had to go looking for love elsewhere.
I learned that meeting, falling in love, and settling in our home was not the ends of the journey; it was only the beginning. I learned that love is not like finding your treasure and settling down to empty your spoils. Falling in love is like finally being handed the treasure map and a partner to go hunting with, for the rest of your life.
I thought that love should feel like a burning, consuming passion and love that doesn’t is a love that has run its course, fizzled out, and should be abandoned. I had never been told that after the passion and drama there comes a kind of peace. There comes comfort and contentment and if you come to it without fear it can be something more beautiful than the drama and passion ever were.
Let that comfort be the place your love is journeying toward.
When I was young, and my love and I were first together, I thought that love was static and unchanging. I thought that the person I fall for would remain the same person forever. I thought, I hoped, that the paradise we had found and created in and with one another would be timeless and insulated from outside influence.
When I woke up one day and looked at my love and saw someone I didn’t know and who didn’t know me, I panicked. I heard the words “grown up” and “grown apart” saw her drifting away. I raged, and I whined, and I tried to make her back into the girl I first knew, and she only drifted more.
Love isn’t supposed to stay the same forever. Love grows and morphs from day-to-day because ethe people who fee it grow and morph too. They may grow apart, that is a part of the risk, but if they are careful and give one another space and support, the love will grow stronger, and the bond solidifies. Don’t fear the change. Take pride in the way you and your love move through life, sampling different temperaments and becoming different people.
It is the gift you are meant to give one another.
When I was young and my love and I were first together we didn’t know what it meant to learn to not only love each other but to live and grow together. Most couples fail to learn the lessons, but we were determined to make it through the dark caverns of jealousy and the jagged mountains of uncertainty. We came out the other side feeling like two people who had also become one entity and would always be.
We are happy, even with our flaws and our fighting we are happy.
I hope you are too, and if you aren’t I hope you can stick it out and come out the other side filled with love, comfort, and contentment.
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Post inspired by The Daily Post’s Discover Challenge: The Poetry of List-Making
Featured image via Unsplash