Let’s talk about love.
Okay, before you start humming because that totally sounds like a pop song, follow me here. So my mother visited for Thanksgiving, which was absolutely lovely. She lives in Florida so we don’t get to see each other as much since I’ve moved to North Carolina. Visiting with my mother was her fiancé and his family (son, daughter-in-law, and grandson). This was the first real holiday we’d shared as a blended family, at least for me, and I was a little nervous. My father passed two and a half years ago, and it still hurts that he’s not here to share my life. But there’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, brought on by this visit: love takes a lot of different forms.
Maybe that sounds pithy. Maybe I should have realized this a long time ago. I was Black Friday—or Black Thursday, I guess, don’t stone me because I went out on Thursday, people!—shopping with my mother and we had a conversation about evolving relationships. I remarked that I thought by this point, six years into marriage and almost twelve years total into being with my husband, the initial blooms of passion would fade. We’d end up in some sort of intimacy where we were fond of each other, but we wouldn’t have a real physical attraction anymore. That’s the course I thought marriage took. Don’t ask me why I thought this, but I figured with change and age, these things happened.
But I was wrong. I love my husband with shock-inducing awe where I’m flabbergasted that this handsome person wants to be with me. I still love to spend every single day with him, and I still find his conversations funny and enlightening. Sure, we sometimes fight like cats and dogs, but in the end there’s no one I’d rather be with than him. What I’ve come to realize now is that this love doesn’t fade, per se, but change into something better.
It’s a deeper love. One where we know everything about each other and that just makes the attraction stronger. I don’t love him the way I did when I was sixteen and starting to date him, which was a selfish, “look what I have!” love. I thought pretty much only of myself and what having a boyfriend meant because let’s face it, I’m perpetually self-absorbed. And in college when we were in a long distance relationship, I was scared and full of doubts. Could I really marry the only boyfriend I’d ever had? What if the grass really was greener on the other side? (It wasn’t. It still isn’t.) When we were first married, I was still trying to figure out who I was, so I don’t love him that way either anymore.
In the last two years as I’ve embarked on this new path as a romance novelist, it’s then that I’ve started to love him the way I think I was meant to all along. I had to accept who I was, who I’m going to become, and who we are together. When we moved to North Carolina, we were cut off from both of our families, and that really forced us to rely more on each other. I began to really see this man that I’d fallen in love with, who was capable of so much. He has always taken care of me and gone the extra mile for me. If I have a problem, he’ll fix it, or he’ll try his damndest to. He loves me in my worst moments, when I’m obsessed over something or infuriated by the latest attack on women’s rights. And he loves me in my best moments, when I’m euphoric about finally sending my book off for real to the formatters.
My mother and father were married for 30 years. I grew up seeing the bond between them. They always kept a unified front in raising my brother and I, and that formed a lot of how I view the world. I hope that’s the kind of love my husband and I get to have, one born of a life spent together. Of growing up together and forging a path that’s uniquely ours. I see elderly couples strolling down the street, hand in hand, and I hope that’s where MrMonroe and I end up. Sharing our lives for eternity, able to understand each element of our quirky personalities and be stronger because of it.
With her fiancé now, my mother has found a different love. It’s a relationship based on trust and knowing exactly what they want from the other. Both have come from past relationships. They’ve got a life of experiences behind them, and they want to see the future together. That strikes me as something healing, that this love is able to move away from their past hurts and losses. Death is a scary thing—but somehow, I find it comforting that my mother found happiness again. A happiness that doesn’t preclude what she had with my father, but is in itself so utterly dissimilar that it can’t be compared.
As you go through the various stages in your life, I hope you find people who will be part of all your different types of love.