I really love my husband – but I don’t talk about these things, much less write them. After 20 years, sharing this, would it embarrass him? Does it embarrass me to write it out loud? Others in these kinds of marriages will know what I’m talking about. We hold hands at the movies and while falling asleep at night. Why is it embarrassing to admit so much love? Though friends have remarked upon the quality of happiness of in our household, like it’s an extraordinary event, or something not often encountered in family life. Love stories, and marriages, can be so very much otherwise. Like love lived through rupture and continuing heartache (a not-love), not finding the one to love (a not-finding), or stories of being alone by choice or circumstance.
I love him better as the years go by. How can this be? No one ever ‘told’ me that love and marriage can be like this. That it can be sweeter over time, that the erotic can have a sustaining charge. This is not to say we haven’t had trials, oh no, we have our trials. And we’re not particularly romantic, or the kind of lovers who put their locks onto that Paris bridge. Such a confident romantic gesture. The matter of our marriage took its time, questioning the institution as we did. Yet being together as a couple continues. I want to be around him, to be in his presence. I breath his smell and vitality like oxygen. To sink my nose into his neck each day is one of the divine pleasures of my life. We have hormonal resonance.
I used to relish short breaks from the intensity of my young family. Breaks given through my various studies, conferences, or research projects (at the time, always San Francisco). I no longer feel this way. Now I don’t want to leave home. Right now, I ache with the absence of my family. And I feel a texture of raw longing for my partner, my husband. Being away from him for these five weeks is the longest in our 20 years. It’s painful in a physical way, but it gives me a view. I’ve been with this guy for 20 years, and I’m still secretly, madly, in love with him.
There is fear of the ‘evil eye’ in admitting my true love. If I say it out loud, will I loose it? There is always a cost to love, the price of its potential loss (unspoken). You don’t want to say it, because maybe it’s not really that good. Or you’ll admit something is good, and then not live up to it afterwards, after-words.
A friend was recently and shockingly widowed by the sudden death of her husband, her soul mate. His absence opens a gapping wound she can barely live with. Maybe it’s important to admit that such love is possible, what it’s like, even if we can be devastated in its loss. There are so many clichés on this – to love anyway, and all that. But in real life, it’s actually much deeper then any cliché. Long-term love has been a cornerstone of my own life so far. I am told that one must life-write not only of trauma, but of the good things in life, of pleasure and happiness too.
I think it, or should I say feel, that our happy household is the extension of our love, and holding the space in this for our girls. In Hinduism, they say husband and wife should literally worship each other as god and goddess. This may seem a bit over-the-top from a Western view, but I get it. As in: say nice things to each other. Don’t back-talk your mate to others. Do things for him/her that make them happy. I experience this from my husband. In his actions, his doing, he demonstrates his love.
I’m not talking about the whole co-dependent thing that my mom read, worried, and warned me about during my childhood/teenage years. My mother’s love life was filled with strife and her rumination on the topic of love (or not-love). The theme of rumination on failing love can become a favoured habit. There is a lot to talk about when love goes wrong, but what to say when it’s right? My mom and her boyfriends lived in lover/enemy dyads. In this view, relationships are ultimately traps, and we are replaying the traumas of our childhood and family dynamics. We may certainly carry our family and social histories, but how to pass (not pass) them?
I witnessed my grandparents’ life-long (till death did they part) relationships. Though these seemed, at that feminist moment, to be more about the social duty of marriage. On my mother’s side, a settled co-existence between grandparents, but also an undercurrent of resentment and verbalized upheld regrets. I noticed my paternal grandparents cultivated an earnest kind of love in their togetherness. And my father re-married long-term, happily so, to my stepmom. Yet as a child, experiencing years of an acrimonious parental divorce, I had no idea that long-term love can about inter-dependency, safety, enjoyment of and with the other. Maybe I wished it were so, or deeply desired to love in such a way, with this kernel of potential.
When my youngest daughter was a little baby, I went to a soothsayer. She was an astrologer recommended by a friend whose birth I had midwifed. At the time, my husband and I had about 2-years under our belts. We were stressed as new parents, and had been fighting (in bad ways). We had had some significant challenges at the start of our love, ones that left me with mixed emotions, and tested us. My mind wandered to co-parenting as a non-couple (I cringe on writing this now). I suppose that thought was born of experience with my parents’ divorce. Also, at the time, many young couples /families around us were breaking-up after their children’s births. It was like I had no other ‘go-to’ thought for resolving difficulties. I did not voice this. At heart I did not wish it to be. I was in love with this man. The soothsayer looked at my chart, and she firmly told me (not knowing my thoughts) that I must not leave him. He was in the other room caring for our baby – an actually apt activity for him, who has been so admired, by other women especially, for his involvement in such things (and his good looks).
“You must be together, it’s very important for you. To live in a life-long partnership, to learn to trust another, it’s very important. You will see, after many years you two will experience the quality of your love with more and more depth. You will draw strength from this. Others will admire your partnership, and remark on it. This is of great benefit, not only to you both, but for others in your lives.”
Oh wise woman, whose voice I carried in my head through difficulty. It comes true. As it is, so may it be. A lived inter-dependency of the sweetest kind. One that asks us to love and trust in each other every day, building these qualities into every act between us. Body, speech, and mind.