As conversations ensue between my husband and I, the faucet opens up a little more each time. When you’re in such a hurry like me to raise the rug and throw it out the door, patience is difficult. I admit I want a waterfall, and I’m getting a slow, steady stream. I remind myself to be content with this, because not too long ago it was just a slow, ominous drip. And it’s not easy. If nothing else, throughout this whole ordeal, I’ve learned patience.
We’ve been talking about love lately, specifically love versus in love. When he wrote me a letter a week or two ago, one of the things he wrote was “There is nobody I would rather spend time with than you. And that’s because I’m more comfortable with you than anyone else. Does this mean that I’m in love with you?” After you’ve been married for some 23 years, there’s not a question that the fires that burned when we first got together were hotter, much hotter. Neither of us deny this fact. And, we both can’t deny that the allure of any new relationship is like taking a drug, it makes you feel intoxicated and heady. But, is that feeling supposed to stick around forever? So, we have been discussing our love for each other. It’s important to him that I understand that he loves me. He has stated this over and over so many times in the last year and a half. But, we recently asked of each other, are we still in love with each other. Neither of us were really sure exactly how to answer this and what did it mean if we said that we loved each other, but weren’t in love with each other, if being in love means intoxicated and heady. And then the question was presented, what does being in love with someone even mean?
I think in the beginning of any relationship, the mystery is part of the equation. You are learning about someone new and different. All of the experiences are brand new. All of the stories are brand new. You are exploring that person, studying who they are and what they’re about and what makes them who they are. And likely, a good portion of who both of you are at that point in the relationship is not exactly who either of you really are. We present as peacocks to perspective mates, showing only the best of who we really are to the other person. And then, slowly we settle in, and the more comfortable we become the more of who we really are starts to present, while a few of those peacock feathers start falling out.
When we build a fire in our fireplace at home, the sequence of events is always the same. We use a lot of kindle to start the fire, and it isn’t always easy (I have no idea how real fires start when I can’t seem to get one to start on purpose in my fireplace.) Then the fire slowly starts getting going, burning hotter and hotter. It’s at this point that we start taking the blanket off of ourselves on the couch or removing the heavy sweatshirt. The kids back away from the fireplace to a cooler spot in the room. Then, the fire gets low, but the embers are glowing brightly underneath the wood, turning the excessive heat into a cozy warmth. And that is where it becomes enjoyable, when it’s cozy. And we huddle back in around the gentle heat. And every so often throw another log on our fire.
I think we have both realized that the term “in love” might represent those beginning feelings of our relationship, those moments of extreme heat, where ripping off clothes was what we lived for, when we were hopelessly infatuated with each other. These are the times when a lot of kindle was needed to keep those flames going. Now, we are settled in, just enjoying the life we have created. We have plenty of moments of extreme heat, but that’s what they are…moments. Of course we will never feel what we did in the beginning again, because we aren’t new to each other anymore. The period of infatuation is past us and what we feel now is deep love.
He recently told me he was infatuated with the “idea” of her. And she was like a drug that he wanted to stop taking, but couldn’t seem to figure out how to stop. And he recognizes that she lives her life for infatuation, never quite experiencing the deep love that comes later. I guess it must be like her drug to keep looking for that feeling of giddy that comes with a new relationship.
Love is something that deepens over time. And there may be days or months or years when it wavers, but if it’s the real thing it settles in and maybe it won’t be as hot, but it will definitely be comfortable and you will be content. And that is the definition of happiness…..being content.