Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Maryl writes: Valentine’s Day and Love Defined

How many Valentine’s Days have I shared with my husband?  Over 30 years considering that we lived together for a while first.  Isn’t it amazing to think that you’ve even known someone for that long?  It’s also consoling that someone has that history with you.  I look at the marital status of my friends and family and see a mixture of happily married, tolerably married, separated, awaiting divorce, divorced, widowed.  You don’t know when you take those vows early on where that union will wind up.  You can’t possibly because you also don’t know where you’ll wind up.  And it takes two to make a partnership and a commitment.

It can’t be about how the individuals evolve over the decades.  It’s got to be about how the relationship – the commitment and love -- grows and matures and solidifies.  So what should you expect from a 20, 30 or 40 year relationship?  Maybe it’s easier to answer what not to expect.  I’m thinking of a friend who’s starting her second life newly divorced.  The turning point for her was a physical breakdown that took her several months to recover from.  Her husband was totally unsupportive and unsympathetic during her illness.  That she couldn’t forgive.

I’m next thinking of a sister-in-law and her husband with whom we just spent a week on vacation.  Wow did their marriage seem as fresh as the day they met.  (I remember that day too.)  Kidding each other back and forth, holding hands and generally caring that the other was alright was what I saw.  I know they must have their disagreements but over a week I witnessed a couple that kept a rather constant keel, replete with harmony and confidence in each other’s love.  Beautiful and reassuring to behold.

As I start my second life, I want to be allowed to freely explore my newly defined passions and aspirations.  My husband for sure liked it better when I was earning a regular paycheck but he doesn’t discourage me or question my motives.  He doesn’t especially take an interest in my milestones or accomplishments or failures, but he believes that I believe in myself.  That’s the most I can expect….and that’s ok.  So that’s what we’ll be celebrating this Valentine’s Day.   Belief in and commitment to each other.  That’s love defined in our fourth decade.

   How do you define love and commitment?  Comments?  Some  
   other interesting ideas on the subject can be found….      
   1)   in “Parallel Lives,” a book by Phyllis Rose where she 
         proposes that marriage partners are necessarily having the 
         same experiences
    2)     in the lives of a married couple in Mike Leigh’s latest film, 
         "Another Year,” nominated for an Oscar for best original 
         screenplay this year.  They have managed to remain 
         blissfully happy into their autumn years despite the   
         disappointments and negativity around them.
    3)  in content on “Marriage Builders” web site about     
         overcoming conflicts and restoring love.

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