But I Love Him: 4 Words That Keep You With The Wrong Guy

 

*This post is written in regards to those dating, not married.*

 

“But I love him.” I know you do, girl.  I know.  And you know what?  I did too.  For almost 4 years I loved someone that didn’t love me well. Those famous words and feelings have been confusing heads and dirtying the decision making waters for women and men since way before Boyz To Men made being in love even more emotional.

It seems to me that these 4 words have been the death of many good choices people make when they are in love. I love giving relationship counsel and in doing so, I’ve heard just under 124 billion people in bad relationships say this. You know, give or take.

“I know he has anger problems, but I love him.”

“I know he is really selfish, but I love him.”

“Yes, he was unfaithful, but I love him.”

He or she is jealous, pushy, aggressive, reckless with your feelings, treats you like an option, has a bad history with women/men and yes, you love him.  Never mind getting into how you fell so deeply for someone who has treated you so poorly, there is something else very major that is being missed here: Love is NOT the problem.  You have gotten that part down pat.  You love them. You aren’t trying to fix your feelings because you are struggling to love. The problems are the other things that love cannot fix: the major relationship issues or tendencies of the one you are dating.

For example, if you want to be with them but they are unfaithful, your love cannot fix that issue. so why are you offering it as a solution? They aren’t cheating because of your love and you aren’t dodging being hurt by the cheating because you love them.  The problem remains regardless of your feelings so emotions should not factor in to your decision to leave the relationship. Your love doesn’t remedy someone else’s deficiency in good character or care for you.

When someone says “But I love them”, it is as related to the choice to stay involved as eating pancakes is to curing obesity.  You love pancakes. That has been locked and loaded.  You want to lose weight.  If you need to make the right choice to lose weight, how much admiration you have for pancakes won’t help you not get fat if you eat them.  IHOP isn’t getting you anywhere.  If you want to lose pounds, lose the pancakes.  How much you enjoy eating them has nothing to do with solution and you know the problem you are trying to solve.  You aren’t fixing your love for pancakes.  You are fixing your weight, not feelings.

I understand that loving someone makes it very hard to leave the wrong person. Remember earlier when I said I did that very thing almost 4 years? We have all been there and I know why these infamous words are uttered by the brokenhearted a million times a day in this world.  Still, when the waves of love settle in to real life, possibly a marriage, kids, and bills, your passion will subside and leave you with ALL the traits you chose in them, including the ones that initially made you doubt your choice to be with them.  “But I love him” will not carry you through the passionless days with someone who never loved you well in the first place.  When you are dating, you are seeing the best version of someone else. They may change, but the only thing you are guaranteed for sure is what you’ve already got.  As time gives way into what should replace intense butterflies with a deep love and intimacy, what you will be left with is someone who showed you years ago that they didn’t have what it took to give you that deep long lasting safe love.

Leaving a person you love is hard, but it’s much harder to end up with someone you knew you shouldn’t have been with years ago. I would rather be alone forever than with the wrong person.  Truly, not only is staying because you love them not the answer now, it will be the very reason you kick yourself in the future.

It’s easy for me to tell you to stop dating the wrong person.  I know, I know…I can’t understand your situation.  But on the contrary, when someone who loves you tells you to walk away from something toxic, the fact that we aren’t in your shoes and aren’t in love with that person gives us an advantage, not disadvantage.  When emotion is removed, objectivity reigns and someone covered up in the love puppies could use a little bit of that.  Actually, a whole lot of that.

So should you stay with someone who is treating you consistently in a way that is leaving you less confident, hurt, anxious? No, and love is not a justification.  Emotion can’t cure what wasn’t an emotional problem to begin with.  Address what really is the issue.  Drop the pancakes, lose the love, and by all means, drop those four little words.  I love yous shouldn’t come with buts.

 

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Photo Credit:  Shelly Griffin Photography

Trading White Horses: A Message For Young Single Christian Women

I remember being in college and having a really fun, quirky, atheist professor.  He was controversial and hilarious.  He also loved to make bets and he made two of those with me….two very insulting ones actually.

Bet number one:  Lance and I would be divorced within the first few years.  (He was a statistics professor so I guess he was going by stats and he himself had been married more than once.  He also believed that all men were liars and pigs which he would tell the class.  He included himself in that group.)

Bet number two:  Lance would lie to me to the point it would hurt me within the first year of marriage.  He said you put down a dollar and I’ll put down a hundred on each bet.

I remember thinking, “He has NO idea who I am marrying!  We would stay married and he would never lie to me!”  That is exactly what I told him and 9 years later, I owe him 100 dollars on bet 2.  “What happened,” I thought?  That professor crossed my mind several times that first year.  I couldn’t believe Lance lied to me..  I knew he wasn’t perfect even if he loved God but certainly his godliness would exempt me from some of the worldlier things men do.  Lying?  I was surprised by his humanity.

Rewind back to our engagement and I could not believe the guy I was getting to marry. He was UNREAL. He was the most admirable, romantic, faithful, talented, best personality-ed man in the world and in some sort of unimaginable odds, he was going to be my husband. The point I’m about to make is not that he is not an exceptional guy. It’s this:

I “knew it would be hard”  which we all like to say pre-marriage just to let everyone we aren’t totally irrational. Still, but this…THIS would be the best of worst case scenarios in those times. I was marrying an outstanding godly guy. I knew marriage was supposed to be hard but I inadvertently believed that marrying a godly man would somehow exempt me or lessen some of the problems we would have.  I didn’t say it out loud and it looks dumb on the screen but you may be doing this yourself, even now.  You know that prince charming on a white horse coming to sweep you off your feet from a worldly fairy tale sense is ridiculous. What you don’t know is that you’ve traded the belief that a regular man can be a prince for the idea that a godly man really can be. You haven’t lost the prince on a white horse fairy tale. You didn’t lose the prince concept at all. You’ve traded horses.  You’ve traded the idea of the perfect romance for the perfect christian romance that’s reinforced from parents and friends at your church that say you guys are such a good couple with great heads on your shoulders who will “do the right things”, love the Lord together, amen and hallelujah, and ride off into the heavenly sun.

This is exactly what I did. I traded the worldly tale for one masked in Christian clothes.  It’s easy to do.  I would have even told you then that I knew a Christian marriage would be hard and he wouldn’t be perfect but my surprise by his shortcomings when we first married exposed what I didn’t know I believed in my heart.  Ibelieved marrying a christian guy would at least shield me from some things because of his standards and beliefs.

To a point, it makes sense though, right? God tells us that certain things bring certain consequences and obedience brings about certain blessings.  After are we are being sanctified so it’s all being made good in time.  That’s true and totally true but you may be decieving yourself by what you draw from those truths.  The best deceits we are sold, even if we sold them to ourselves, are those mixed with truths.

It is true that if a man loves God that blessings will flow from that and they will. The lie is that your husband loving God will exempt you from the consequences of two sinners being married. He’s not a different prince on a Christian horse who will sweep you up. After all, wives who have godly husbands suffer disappointment and selfishness at their husband’s hands. Women who have husbands who don’t believe in God also deal with disappointment and selfishness from their spouse. There are husbands who don’t love God who help out with the kids just the same as ones that do love the Lord.

Godly husbands hurt your feelings and surprise you with short answers on a long day as do unbelieving husbands. Wives of spouses who don’t care about faith at all will let you down. So will your Christian husband. Neither can be prince.  Jesus is your prince so even if they should be, they don’t have to be.  They weren’t intended to be your all encompassing perfectly loving everything.  Jesus did that.

I’m saying all of this to point out that you may be believing that marrying a christian will somehow save you from struggles or hurts that you wouldn’t have otherwise is simply not true. Because you know “it will be hard”  what you are probably thinking is what is saves you from are struggles you associate with out of faith problems.  Don’t believe that a Godly man is going to be that glass slipper because he loves the Lord. He loves the Lord because he knows he not a prince and needs God.  You wouldn’t want him believeing any other way because then he wouldn’t be depending on God at all and wouldn’t have those prince charming tendencies which all the great ones do in the big scheme of things:  foot rubs, surprise night alone, a gift card for you and only you to go to Starbucks….

A christian man should seek to be unselfish, pursue you, tell you that you’re beautiful, help you day to day, forgive you, be patient with you, and so on but he is only human. Godliness doesn’t exempt any of us from struggles and short comings and doing life every single day with someone accentuates many of our ugly sides. What your Christian husband WILL give you is a man who always comes back to forgiveness, patience, pursuit, kindness, long suffering, and so on because he loves the Lord first so no matter how unlovely you act or are, he will love you because he wants to honor God. And because he loves God, he will love you and strive to love you well. THAT is the long term, overall benefit of a man who GENUINELY loves the Lord but as we all know, day to day, season to season, we are stubborn, at  times grudge holding, entitled, selfish sinners.  He might struggle for entire seasons of your marriage and some of the best ones do. So, your overall marriage will have success because you both come back to the same foundational beliefs and convictions but that can look very different on  Monday when money is tight, the kids are screaming, and you both need a nap.

However, Godly men are not to be lessened or undervalued. There is a reason God wants us to love Him and find others who are doing the same. There is blessing and intimacy that is unmatched in this sort of thing but that is amidst the ugly. Beauty gets ground out from some of the ugliest things. Believer or not, when you look back over your life and ALL of the things that made you into who you are and where you stand now: heart aches, loss, bad relationships, poor choices, embarrassments, immature decisions, hard family relationships, etc. you can see that beauty and growth don’t lightly fall in our lap. The best of marriages don’t either. Not with anyone. Not with any group of people and not with people with the best or worst traits.

So, to all of you young Christian single women dreaming of that Godly man who will lead you, play with your kids on the playground, read the Bible with you, belt out songs next to you on Sunday mornings, pray with you, forgive you, be forever patient with you and every other version of the Christian fairy tale, don’t let the desirableness of those characteristics blur the lines that you really may have just recreated and renamed your prince. There is a strong chance you haven’t abandoned the idea of a prince at all but rather, put him in a more respectable package, riding on a different horse.

The lie is not in that a Godly man isn’t a precious, indispensable, and beneficial thing. The lie is in believing that, even subtly, that in marrying a Godly man you will somehow be escaping some form of humanity. No two sinners marry gracefully and no ideal lifestyle or habits of the scriptures flow out of us constantly. That is after all why we all need Jesus in the first place.

By all means, marry and especially so if you like a tall glass of sanctification. It is a labor of love and joy.

By all means, marry someone who loves the Lord but when you do, make sure you understand that you can be sold a prince in many masks and be deceived not on the person, but your expectations of them. You can even deceive yourself. They don’t make princes any more than you know you act like a princess day to day.

Find a godly man.

Don’t trade horses.

Love and Crackers

When I was a little girl in the first grade, I use to rip off the name ‘Lance’ from Lance brand crackers packages and carry it around in my pocket. I don’t know why I did that then. Lance didn’t really even talk to me until I was in middleschool. I don’t think in the first grade you really notice guys that much but I must’ve noticed him. From 7 years old until 6th grade, that’s all I really remember about when Lance moved to Bowling Green and came to my church.

But then…I mean a BIG ‘but then’, I fell like crazy for him in 6th grade. I remember when Alanis Morisette’s song “Head Over Feet” came out, I would just ache to hear it on the radio so I could daydream about him. It got so bad that one night I actually called a friend of mine and, in all seriousness, asked her to sing it to me over the phone because I didn’t know the words to sing it myself and I loved the Lance butterflies it gave me. At this point of time he pretty much ignored me for the most part but I made sure I dressed up “cute” for youth group every Wednesday and I always tried to stand next to him during prayer so we could hold hands.

Years passed until the summer of my 8th grade year came. The youth group went on a church trip to Birmingham and this is where my love story of chasing after Lance finally became reciprocal. I remember with great detail arriving at the retreat and going and sitting a round table with my friends. The room was dimly lit and the carpet was burgundy. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Lance start walking. Was he walking towards me? No way. He did pay attention to me on the ride down but never really much outside of that two hour trip. But, no matter how unreal it seemed, he was, in fact, walking over to me. My stomach dropped as he asked me if I would go outside and talk to him for a minute. That walk to the hotel sidewalk was the most exciting 20 feet I had ever walked.

He leaned up against the hotel wall that was white painted brick that had begun to chip. I sat on a short wall that had planted flowers in it and I held my breath because I couldn’t imagine what he wanted to say to me publicly muchless privately. Then he started,

“I just wanted to tell you that I think there is something different about you and I can’t get you off my mind. I just wanted you to know that I always know where you are in a room.”

I would say I was exhilarated but that would’ve been a gross understatement. I had told my mother 2 years earlier as a young, “I’m sure you’ll change your mind” little girl that I would marry him someday. 730 days later, I thought for the first time, “Oh my gosh, you might actually be right.”

I was soaring the rest of the trip. The night before we left he sang me a Garth Brooks song that he changed the lyrics of to make it about me and him. Cheesy? Perhaps, but that didn’t keep me from playing the first verse of that song over and over again on my discman the whole ride home. Also on the ride home you should know that he finally sat next to me on the bus like I had dreamed about for all those years. There was a pillow over our hands and our hands were touching but not holding because neither of us had the guts. It was a four hour ride home and he didn’t move the brave 4 centimeters to hold my hand until we pulled back into the church parking lot. When he did…fireworks! There is such a sweetness to a time where all you want to do is hold hands and it takes you all day to get the nerve to intertwine your fingers. I can still remember my whole body going to mush when he squeezed my hand.

We started dating that day and it lasted a whole 9 months until I gave the ole’ sweety the boot. But, to me, that’s where the story really gets good.

From the time we broke-up until the time we dated again was over three years and I was with another guy this whole time. This guy wasn’t the best in the world to me and I picked up a big emotional ticket for it but during this time, there was someone commited to me and it was Lance. For 3 years he hurt and missed me dearly…loved me dearly. He still brought me flowers, sung outside my window at night, and still always knew where I was in a room. Two and a half years into my relationship with the other guy and right before Lance went to college, he left me quite the farewell. One morning he called me very early and told me to go outside. I lazily opened the front door and stepped on a long stem rose. I ran back inside to get my contacts and ran back to my front door to see a trail of roses end to end. They went all the way into my yard and formed a big heart made of flowers and the inside of the heart was filled with rose petals. There was another trail of flowers leading from the heart all the way to my car where there was a ribbon tied rose with a letter on my windsheild. The letter told me he loved me and with that, he was gone to Jackson, TN. to start his college years. We still always talked but as expected and as he deserved, he finally moved on and dated a girl so beautiful. The kind of girl you worry about your ex-es dating. But then again, I deserved it and I did have a boyfriend. While Lance was with this girl, if you can believe this…he left my picture up in his room. A year into their relationship they broke-up and she told him, “Either you are going to date Rebecca again and marry her or date her again and realize she’s not the one but until then, you will never give anyone else a chance!” When Lance and I began dating again a short while later, she sent me an email, a sweet one, that said, “I just want you to know that you always had his heart”.

As all of this went on, I was at the point where I couldn’t take my old relationship. 6 months later I called it off and two weeks after that, I kissed Lance for the first time in 4 years and it was the single best kiss of my entire life hands down. He had always tried to kiss me EVERY time he saw me, boyfriend or not, and finally we did. Lance told me he loved me right away because even after all that time, he never stopped. One year later we were engaged and married the following year. Coming out of the last relationship I had I was so damaged, hurt, and anxious but God blessed with a man who had already proven to me that he could love me even when I didn’t love him. Not only that, he did so not as an adult but as a young, teenage boy who didn’t have to wait around for unrequited love. Loving him again was one of the easiest things I’ve ever had to do.

That year leading up to our wedding was so wonderful and so exciting. We bought our first little house and fixed it up and I loved every second of every minute of getting to that altar. On August 7, 2004, teary eyed I put on a dress and took the arm of another great man who walked me down the aisle to the person that it seemed like it took me a lifetime to get to. It was the most exciting 20 feet I’ll ever walk.

Love & Mairwage

In 1997, Lance and I had been dating a few months and were two crazy kids in love.  He took me home after a date and we were standing on the front porch.  He had a huge piece of corn on his lip that made the long journey home from the restaurant.  While we were standing there talking I kept thinking I should say something but I thought it was awkward and I didn’t want to embarrass him.  After a few minutes of chatting it was time for corn and Lance to leave but not before he gave me a kiss.  We all three kissed.  Then when he pulled back he gave me a weird look and said, “Ewww…you have corn on your lip!”  Fantastic.

I still didn’t tell him it was his corn child.  Who was I then anyways? 

Tonight in 2007 I went on another hot date with the same man.  Lance wore a shirt he had been saving since Christmas for our little date night. 

We gorged ourselves at Chili’s ending with a molten lava cake which is delicious in my belly.  Then we went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and walked around the mall.  Our next port of call was Old Navy. I had a great rumbling in my tummy and I said, “We have to go now.  I’m gonna poop my pants.”  So we ran to Sears and I found myself a pottying place.  The great thing about this is that it didn’t matter that I ran off in our date to have diarrhea cha cha cha.  It was just normal like I had said, “Hey, you like this shirt?”  How did we get from “I’m afraid to tell you that you have corn on your lip.” to “I have to poop my pants.”  I’m not exactly sure but the more I think about it, the more I enjoy dwelling on the fact that I love where I am.  I love total comfort with someone and knowing them completely and vice versa.. 

There are few people in our lives that we really, really know.  Maybe none as well as you’ll ever know your spouse.  But I really know him and he really knows me.  That takes A LOT of hard work to get to that place.  It takes a lot of “for better or for worse”.  I know literally every tone of voice, every subtle mannerism, every favorite or least favorite, all of his experiences, sleeping habits, pet peeves, and how to really set him off when he’s made me mad.  It is a best friend on an entirely different level of intimacy. You gain an almost telepathic sensitivity to being able to anticipate their next move. 

Ya know, thinking of learning a person all over again is exhausting. It’s a brilliant adventure but one I only want to do once.   

Because the truth is it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get to the core of a human.  We are  complicated, prideful messes as people.  Knowing someone would be easy if we as humans were all roses but to know someone inside and out, you have to see them angry and hurting, you have to see their flaws, you have to work on them together, and live through being who we are when no ones looking. 

But when those times are through, I’m left with relishing the fact that I know a closed mouth for him means he’s really mad and that chewed-up gum on the side of a plate, for example, would be something that would make him extremely annoyed.  I know when he’s really broken-hearted that he’s hear a pin drop quite and that when his head hits the pillow I have 10 seconds and counting to get out any last words. 

To those of you who are thinking, “Awww, I really want to know a boy/girl that way.”  Or on the other side of a coin, someone who is dating someone and it’s going crappy and this blog is just annoying you…to be fair, you should know that I could just have easily written 40 blogs entitled, “I Almost Killed a Man Tonight.”  BUT wanting to kill him is how I learned to love him.  That is not always fun OR easy and thinking, “This will only help me learn to love him,” doesn’t send butterflies surging through my stomach on difficult days.  But on days when it’s un-enjoyable….it’s always worthwhile even if I’m not enjoying its worth.  And at the end of the day, for those of us who have fumbled through sticking it out, that’s what really matters.

Some things in life give us tangible pays offs like jobs that bless us with cars and homes.  And others give us the satisfaction of knowing that if he goes to the grocery he’ll call a million times about cheese and the right kind of green beans all to come home with something wrong or missing and 2 extra bags of chocolate chip cookies that slipped in.  It’s far from the movies, but it’s better than the tangible.  One day when we are old and gray, the comfort of just knowing him and being known will be enough for me.  No matter what it took to get there.

Everything I Needed to know About Dating, I learned from Marriage

I remember the day after our wedding, waking up in the morning next to Lance at the hotel so overjoyed. If there is cloud nine, I was somewhere up in 20.  What can be better than having the best day of your life, only to wake-up the next day to go on a fabulous vacation with your new spouse?  I remember walking through the airport and seeing all of these old married couples and wanting to be like, “You did it! You got married!”   The day after our wedding is a day I think about more than the day we actually married.  It was the type of feeling you fantasize about as you wait for your wedding day.

 

I also remember when our honeymoon was over because I couldn’t wait to get home to move into our first home!  I can put myself back in that place where I felt so free and excited just to be within the walls of our new house.

 

I remember our first real issue and fight that we had.  One that left me hurt really badly.  I vividly remember sitting in the middle of our living room floor upset and feeling like the freedom I felt before was now feeling like a prison.  All of the sudden the four walls weren’t exciting.  They were a reality check.  I was married.  I couldn’t run and spend the night with my friends or my family because it was tough. 

I was an adult. 

I was married.

And that….was it. 

And in the beginning, during that time, that type of permanence was overwhelming.  It wasn’t that I wanted to leave or that I thought I made a mistake.  It was because I was in one of those moments when you are fully aware of the weight of a situation.  For me, that situation was forever.  And that, during hard times, has to be taken in doses.  Times like that, especially in the beginning, are a screeching halt to wedding showers and running through flowers petals at a reception. 

Lance and I will be married 4 years this summer.  I know that’s far from a lifetime but its long enough to reflect.  So I think a lot about who Lance is.  Who I am.  What we are.  I think a lot about who I was pre-marriage. 

Actually being married has equipped me with the knowledge of simply knowing what it is to be married.  Knowing what it is to be married would be the best type of knowledge to have pre-marriage but of course, it doesn’t work that way.  Because of this, no one knows fully what they are taking on.  However, there are clear indicators when dating of what type of forever you are going to have.  What you are about to read is more or less excerpts from a conversation I have had a million times with tons of girls and a few guys along the way. This is what I do know about dating because I’m married.  I think everyone should talk to someone level-headed and honest this way before taking the plunge.  With all that said, this is what I know for sure…

I know that people typically don’t get better. Just like my myspace headline use to say, “People are never better than you think they are.  They may be worse, but they are never better.” Some people think that sounds so pessimistic but if that’s you….you are probably the person I’m writing this to.  Behind closed doors people aren’t a better version of themselves. You know this is true by the fact that we treat the ones we love the worst.  How many of us were rude to our parents growing-up?  We probably have said some of the worst things to our parents.  You could have a bad day and be in the worst mood but never take it out on your best friend. To your friends you’ll be like, “Ugh, I had the worst day…” But you will unload on your parents.  Why?  Because they love you unconditionally.  You don’t have to “save face” with them.  They won’t leave you, you can trust them…they are simply there no matter what emotionally, physically etc.  A spouse is the same way.  Your guard is down and your security is up.  They will show you and you will show them the worst sides of who you are. I know I sure have. No one can hurt you like your spouse because no one has your heart in the same way.  With that sensitivity comes conflict and with the conflict, the ugliness of you.

So if you are with a guy or girl who can’t treasure you now, who can’t make you feel special, someone who has a temper, someone who is lazy, someone who is selfish, stubborn, un-attentive….that is what you will get.  Dating is the easiest time to be your best you.  If they can’t do it now, they can’t do it after thousands of days, years…of waking-up next to you. They can’t do it during trials if they can’t do it while you guys still have butterflies. 

Sure, they could change someday and I hope they do but the only guarantee you have is who they are now.  There will be issues enough later.  With this said, you need to be able to say that I can commit to this  person and marry them as they are today because that IS exactly the person you are marrying.  There are no other guarantees. You aren’t marrying who you’ll hope they’ll be. You need to be able to say that if they never change, that you would have what is needed to commit to him/her.  Moreover, you need to be able to say if they got more lax in their weaknesses OR strengths that you could commit to that person because that will happen.  Sometimes people we choose or have chosen to date are already riding the fence of what we can take long term.

Is this a person you want your kids to grow-up to be like?  Because they will be, at least in part, who you marry. Can you say, “I would be proud to raise an adult just like my potential spouse.”

Are they the kind of person you want your kids to marry?  If you’ve ever deeply loved a child, your own or otherwise, you know the kind of hope you have for them and the love you want for them.  Don’t forget when you are choosing a potential spouse that you are that child to someone. 

With all of this said, I didn’t learn to think this way because Lance has totally let me down and I wish I just knew all the things I have told you pre-decision to marry him. 

I learned these things because I have had some of the hardest times in what I consider to be a good marriage, to a good man, whom I love. That’s how I know.  I know what it takes and I learn that mostly by what we lack and struggle to have and other times by what we do have as a couple that has been a must. 

I know no one is perfect and that’s not what I’m saying that we as people should find.  What I am saying is that when you are married, you are stuck with the best and worst things about someone and you will experience the extremes of those things…the worst of the worst, and the best of the best.  So once you’re married you have to commit.  It’s a done deal.  When you are dating it’s not.  Don’t chain yourself to someone for forever when you don’t have to. Now is the time to make the decision.  Sit in the weight of the moment, the situation before you as best you can, and think about these things because it’s a reality. 

What will issues be for your marriage? I don’t know.  When will your challenges come for your marriage: 2 years, 15, 30 years into your marriage?  I don’t know that either.  Maybe it’s infertility. Infidelity. Money.  Changing as people.  Having kids. Something traumatic.  Or what takes a lot of couples apart, not tragedy or major issues but the daily annoyances of day-to-day living with a person that eventually kills what binds many marriages.  This is where we find “irreconcilable differences” which is what many divorce papers, including my parent’s, give as a statement of the dissolution of their marriage. 

I don’t know a lot of things about how your marriage will be but there are two definites:  There will be struggle and you will be left in those times with both the benefits and consequences of how wisely you chose a partner.

The only question is:  who are you going to take with you?  

Ode to Kevin Arnold & Winnie Cooper

117 epsiodes of the Wonder Years + Reflection = This Blog….

 

I heard someone talking about a woman who ran into a guy she used to know in high school.  They were both married, with kids, and in their mid-to-late thirties.  He told her, “I always liked you high school and I was too afraid to tell you then.”  I guess the thing that sticks out in my mind is that it seemed like he still really wanted her to know.  Not so much that he still liked her…just that it was so important for some reason that she knew about it finally.  Even some 20 years later.  Closure maybe?  I’m not sure.

It all just makes me wonder really; about the power of young love.  There is something that is so intoxicating about the way we were then that it seems like it’s this idea that we never get over.  At least those of us who experienced it.  The way that we cared when we were juvenile and reckless had this element of passion and hope that seemed not to care about what life did.  Like the fact that you probably really wouldn’t be together forever, the fact that college was coming, and a million other changes along the way that threatened the young certainty that this person truly was yours.  It was the pursuit of something with what little element of childlikeness you still have left at that age.

You know… when you are a little kid, dreaming is not a word you considered really because nothing seemed impossible so nothing seemed like dreaming.  As you get older, somewhere between experience and logical thinking that gets lost.  It’s hard to be a rational dreamer.

But for a brief while there is some sort of that left in high school. You are old enough to feel real emotions and care deeply for someone but not so old that you’ve forgotten how to chase something without excuse; simply because it was worth it.  Even if we couldn’t see it really wasn’t.  It’s not necessarily the wise way to handle a relationship, yet, if it hadn’t been so unthought, I don’t know how memorable it would’ve ended up being.

My sophomore year my future husband probably wouldn’t have sung outside my window in the middle of the night knowing I had a boyfriend if he had sat around and thought about the logic of it all.  A lot letters would’ve never been written.  The ones you have tucked away somewhere for reasons you’re still not sure.  Maybe it’s just so we can remember.  Remember what it was, who we were, and what it was like to be in a place where you could have no real stability yet believe in something with such certainty.

But then, one day, before you know it–it changes.  Because we want it to………………eventually.  Because we need it to.  Because we grow up and realize that you need more and that love is more than feeling, than desire, than hope, than blind promises.  A rare few are able to grow with those people to realize those things together.

For others though, we realize that true love can’t sustain itself on the wild passions of youth and we start to see why.  However whether it’s from an experience, memories, movies, or just a childlike fantasy, we always drift off to a time when we thought it could.  Yet even knowing differently, somewhere between our bills, schedules, mortgages, and jobs we remember a time where the only thing we had to do in a day was love that one person.  There’s an irretrievable innocence to a love that doesn’t know anything different.

No matter how old we get.  We always remember what it was like to fall in love the first time: how we acted, how we felt, and how it hurt.  One way or another, in due time, I think we all look back on that time with an element of appreciation for what it was.  Even if most of it we wouldn’t do again.  It was what it was.  It was fun.  It was emotionally charged. It made us happy.  It left us crying in fields. It was very fifteen.  At times, beyond its years.

Somewhere in all of us are the people we loved and what happened while we did.  For better, for worse.  No matter how old you are, I guess we all go through a phase where there’s that one person, or few people, who make us more or less of who we wanted to be today.

As an adult looking back, young love was simultaneously the most foolish and yet real phase of my young life.  As a kid looking forward, simply the most important.  It’s foolishness now because I would never take those risks or make those choices as an adult today.  But somewhere lost in a time where I didn’t know better…..

…for a moment…I’m glad I did.

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