I feel like I need to start off this post by acknowledging the fact that I don’t feel qualified to write it. I haven’t been married for 50 years, or 25 years-or any years, for that matter. I haven’t been with my significant other (I hate that term, but it seems to fit here) for longer than I’ve been without him. I haven’t raised children with him, I haven’t moved multiple homes with him, and I haven’t celebrated anniversaries with him.
But I still love him. Deeply, passionately, and steadily, I love him. Some days it’s through rolled eyes while doing the dishes and some days it’s whispered gently while cuddling on the couch. Some days it’s said as a reflex and some days it’s felt through my deepest core. But every day, I love him.
I turned 22 in the end of September (see, this is the part where you start to believe me where I say I’m unqualified to write a post like this). I graduated from college last June and I’ll be going back to college (grad school) in August. I don’t have kids, I don’t own a house, and I don’t find myself in the middle of a promising career. Neither does he.
But somehow, here I am, writing a post about staying in love. Yes, me, a 22 year old who isn’t even legally married yet. Hear me out, would you?
I fell in love with J when I was 15. He was driving me home from our first ‘date’ (which was really just watching a movie at a friend’s house) and it was late. It was around midnight, it was dark, and we were driving down a curvy back road in his ‘89 Ford Bronco. My heart was beating extraordinarily fast and I was clammy and nervous. I glanced over at his big man hands on the steering wheel (well, as manly as hands can be for a 16 year old) and thought, I wouldn’t mind those hands holding mine for the next while. When we reached my parents’ house I sprinted out of his truck (to this day J jokes that he hadn’t even put it in park yet) mumbled “thanks for the ride!” and ran inside, slamming the front door behind me.
We wouldn’t have our first kiss until several months later. We wouldn’t have our first real date until February (we went to Red Robbin and I didn’t order anything). We would never ‘officially’ start dating (rare for highschoolers needing the affirmation of being ‘asked out’). But yet here we are, seven years later, still sharing life together.
Like most couples, we went through a lot of phases of love. The crazy, head-over-heels, I’m so in love with you love. The let me tell you all of my secrets and open up to you love. The I’m finally going to fart in front of you love. We even went through the I don’t know if we will make it through this long-distance love.
And yet, here we are.
I’ve read a lot of posts about “staying in love”, full of tricks and tips of “how to keep your marriage alive”. This isn’t something like that.
This is simply something saying that staying in love is a choice. It is an active choice. Maybe you can’t choose who you fall in love with, but I firmly believe you can choose to stay in love with someone. There have definitely been times in the past seven years that I didn’t feel warm and fuzzies while looking at J. There were times I doubted that we could even make it (yep, I said it).
But through all those different seasons of our lives and through the pure grace of God, we actively chose (and keep choosing) to love each other. When we were in high school we chose to ignore the voices telling us it was just puppy love. When we graduated and I moved 3,000 miles away for college we ignored the people telling us we would never make it (even though for a moment it seemed as though they were right). Now, years after that puppy love has worn off, we’re choosing to keep loving each other-deeply, passionately, and steadily.
I spent more time than I care to admit trying to come up with a title for this blog, a title for this thing I’m describing. “Staying” in love sounds boring, “walking” in love seems like more of a daily life act, and “choosing” in love just doesn’t have the right ring to it. Maybe what makes this kind of love so special is that you can’t think up a name for it-it just is. And it’s amazing.
“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day. But I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.”
[Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook]