‘Happily ever after’ or true partnership?
Why is it that so many of the ‘great love stories’ seem to end just when the real work of love begins? ‘Happily ever after’ is such a cop out!
Why is so relatively little written about love that has had decades to ripen and mature, forged and strengthened by the shared joys and pains of a lifetime together?
As a culture, it seems that we glorify the exhilaration of new love, extol its romantic and sexual highs. We talk so much less about the depth and richness that develop when we genuinely choose to partner with another.
Waking in the night . . . reaching out and linking arms like otters as we drift back into a sea of sleep.
Morning comes. Holding each other close, we welcome the day and the joy is like a shaft of sunlight, even when the world outside is dark and gloomy.
The love that endures the decades is not the sentimental, delusional stuff of glossy romance. Time has exposed unexpected strengths and skills, but also vulnerabilities and inabilities. There is nowhere to hide.
In this narrative, the rich colours of joy and contentment, of achievement and fulfilment, are intertwined with the darker shades of despair, of doubt, of dashed dreams and struggle. These form a resilient rope of experience that connects us ever more deeply, yet never binds.
To live this long this close is to witness both the best and the worst of self and other.
There is something truly profound in knowing that your loved one has, at the very least, caught glimpses of your shadows, your demons, and not run screaming for the hills. I call this ‘embracing the 5%’. Sometimes I think it is harder to accept this gift than it is to give it.
With the passing of time, I have come to understand that love exists not ‘despite’ our human imperfection but rather ‘because’ of it. The beautiful ability for true compassion is nourished by this understanding, not by the sterility of perfect people living perfect lives.
To know another deeply is also to know how much you can never know; exquisite closeness and unfathomable distance co-exist.
I’ve never been sure of the idea of a soulmate – sometimes this seems to be represented more like a narcissistic reflection. It also sets us up to expect something that ‘just happens’. Yet so much of learning to love requires the choosing of an investment of our deepest self.
Walking into a crowded gig and knowing instinctively where to find you – even then, a fine thread connected us.
Red roadside poppies on Valentine’s Day (no, it can’t have been; it must have been a birthday!) and the importance of blue moons . . .
Shared dreams and adventures, the same words tumbling at the same time from two mouths, passing kisses, flirtatious glances (yes, even thirty years on), the hugging, the holding; our story.
The years have tested and strengthened that thread with the countless strands of our shared existence.
It is hard not to imagine that this connection might endure beyond time and space . . .