I have a friend who is falling in love. She honestly claims the sky is
bluer. Mozart moves her to tears. She has lost 15 pounds and looks like a cover
"I’m young again!” she shouts exuberantly.
As my friend raves on about her new love, I’ve taken a good look at my old
one. My husband of almost 20 years, Scott, has gained 15 pounds. Once a marathon
runner, he now runs only down hospital halls. His hairline is receding and his
body shows the signs of long working hours and too many candy bars. Yet he can
still give me a certain look across a restaurant table and I want to ask for the
check and head home.
When my friend asked me “What will make this love last?” I ran through all
the obvious reasons: commitment, shared interests, unselfishness, physical
attraction, communication. Yet there’s more. We still have fun. Spontaneous good
times. Yesterday, after slipping the rubber band off the rolled up newspaper,
Scott flipped it playfully at me: this led to an all-out war. Last Saturday at
the grocery, we split the list and raced each other to see who could make it to
the checkout first. Even washing dishes can be a blast. We enjoy simply being
And there are surprises. One time I came home to find a note on the front
door that led me to another note, then another, until I reached the walk-in
closet. I opened the door to find Scott holding a “pot of gold” (my cooking
kettle) and the “treasure” of a gift package. Sometimes I leave him notes on the
mirror and little presents under his pillow.
There is understanding. I understand why he must play basketball with the
guys. And he understands why, once a year, I must get away from the house, the
kids -and even him -to meet my sisters for a few days of nonstop talking and
There is sharing. Not only do we share household worries and parental
burdens - we also share ideas. Scott came home from a convention last month and
presented me with a thick historical novel. Though he prefers thrillers and
science fiction, he had read the novel on the plane. He touched my heart when he
explained it was because he wanted to be able to exchange ideas about the book
after I’d read it.
There is forgiveness. When I’m embarrasssingly loud and crazy at parties,
Scott forgives me. When he confessed losing some of our savings in the stock
market, I gave him a hug and said, “It’s okay. It’s only money.”
There is sensitivity. Last week he walked through the door with that look
that tells me it’s been a tough day. After he spent some time with the kids, I
asked him what happened. He told me about a 60-year-old woman who’d had a
stroke. He wept as he recalled the woman’s husband standing beside her bed,
caressing her hand. How was he going to tell this husband of 40 years that his
wife would probably never recover? I shed a few tears myself. Because of the
medical crisis. Because there were still people who have been married 40 years.
Because my husband is still moved and concerned after years of hospital rooms
and dying patients.
There is faith. Last Tuesday a friend came over and confessed her fear that
her husband is losing his courageous battle with cancer. On Wednesday I went to
lunch with a friend who is struggling to reshape her life after divorce. On
Thursday a neighbor called to talk about the frightening effects of Alzheimer’s
disease on her father-in-law’s personality. On Friday a childhood friend called
long-distance to tell me her father had died. I hung up the phone and thought,
this is too much heartache for one week. Through my tears, as I went out to run
some errands, I noticed the boisterous orange blossoms of the gladiolus outside
my window. I heard the delighted laughter of my son and his friend as they
played. I caught sight of a wedding party emerging from a neighbor’s house. The
bride, dressed in satin and lace, tossed her bouquet to her cheering friends.
That night, I told my husband about these events. We helped each other
acknowledge the cycles of life and that the joys counter the sorrows. It was
enough to keep us going.
Finally, there is knowing. I know Scott will throw his laundry just shy of
the hamper every night; he’ll be late to most appointments and eat the last
chocolate in the box. He knows that I sleep with a pillow over my head; I’ll
lock us out of the house at a regular basis, and I will also eat the last
I guess our love lasts because it is comfortable. No, the sky is not bluer:
it’s just a familiar hue. We don’t feel particularly young: we’ve experienced
too much that has contributed to our growth and wisdom, taking its toll on our
bodies, and created our memories.
I hope we’ve got what it takes to make our love last. As a bride, I had
Scott’s wedding band engraved with Robert Browning’s line “Grow old along with
me!” We’re following those instructions.
“If anything is real, the heart will make it plain.”