"How did you know it was love?
Was it Love at first sight?
Is there only one person out there for you?"
It's not even Light out yet as I'm shuttling my first child to practice, and the deep and probing questions are coming fast. I have approximately 7 minutes to give insightful answers that can and may be held against me in a future conversation. So I try to consider carefully my answers which sound like a stall tactic to him and which also makes him doubt the validity of my answers.
And then he asks...
"Does he make you happy"?
And without missing a beat I say....
"And I don't always make him happy. And By the way, you don't always make me happy. Nor are you always happy with me."
He seems to be settled in on this topic as I keep expressing my heart and deep concern for the change of terms that seems to dominate our culture.
"Don't let the world define marriage for you. We get confused because people tell us that we need to be happy in our relationship and if we aren't it's fine to leave. While I agree that relationships are most fulfilling when we feel satisfaction and at times happy we must never confuse love and happy."
He seems to get it, especially when I say.
"You don't make me happy everyday but I would never think of leaving you Because I love you and my expectation as your mom is not that you would make me happy in order to love you. But when we marry we have been told and too often have embraced this terrible lie that we should be happy all the time or That we will live happily ever after. When it doesn't happen ( it never does) we think we must have missed the mark and we never loved this person at all Or we claim, We simply fell out of love".
Maybe We just stopped loving Or perhaps we never really knew what love requires of us.
I'm no expert on marriage but being married for 21 years means I have lived this thing a little while.
When I was 16 I thought I was in love because there is actually a mechanism in our brain that triggers when we are attracted to someone. Scientists call this dopamine and it has the same effect on the brain as taking cocaine. Your senses are heightened. You can go on little food and sleep as you ride the dopamine wave. You are tricked by your own brain into thinking you are in love.
Serotonin is also released and is the reason you can't think or talk of anything else but your new love. You are blind to their faults and magnify their strengths.
And you go through your day feeling intensely happy.
In the middle of all the buzz you get confused by the terms love and happy.
So you tell your new friend, "I love you".
When you really meant to say,
"You make me really, really, happy. And I love the feelings going on inside my body. And I feel like I could conquer the world and not sleep or eat for days and still accomplish it".
You become ridiculous and can't stop smiling or daydreaming.
It's all part of the process. And it's a fun ride.
But it's not really love. Not long sustaining love anyway.
We say we love all kinds of things... Like our favorite Movie, drink, sport, food, book, jeans, song, ice cream, etc..
But we are basically just saying these things make the top of our HAPPY list.
That sounds like I'm old and a little cynical and hard core and non romantic to a teenagers ears.
I know because that's what I used to think. But as I have seen couples fall off into ditches, and I hear the mantra repeated ... "Make sure you are happy. Life is too short to live any other way." I cringe. It's very American to think we should always look out for #1. But it is not the way of true Love.
I look over at my son, now that we have driven up to the school doors.
"I don't stay married to your dad because I'm riding on dopamine... I stay married to him because I told him I would. And more important I told God I would. I want to be faithful to that. What he does is up to him. But I don't stay in this relationship because he makes me happy every day. Sometimes people have no choice... the person who promised they'd stay walks away from the marriage and the one left is faced with the heartbreaking reality that the picture and the dreams for their life have been torn to shreds and they're looking at something they never thought they would have to. Please Don't confuse Happy and Love, it can hurt a lot of people when we do."
I'm a follower of Jesus. That means I try to follow his teachings and live them out. Some days I fail miserably. And I'm so very thankful for his great grace!
But my goal is to obey his teachings more completely everyday and search to find out what he says true love looks like.
When he speaks of love it looks completely different than pop culture and love songs that are written.
" Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end." I Corinthians13 (The Message)
Love is active. So when I say "I Love You", It must mean I am actively living out a dying to myself and sacrificing for the sake of you. The above list is something that will take me a life time to continuously improve on. Maybe this could be the key to our true joy and carefree living when we learn to love like this. This requires a great deal of calling on his strength and power in the hard struggle of dealing with difficult, and broken people.
I am thankful that my Groom of 21 years still makes me happy and we still have a ton of fun together. It makes loving easier. But it should never be the reason I love.
I love out of a devotion to a greater force. I love because I have been loved. I love because he loves through me when I don't feel like it. I love because it is certainly required of me.
I love because I said I would.
I do love you baby! And I do want to make you happy! As our Anniversary approaches I am thankful that you chose to stay when you could have left. Having you in my life has sharpened me and made me better. I love you even on those days you don't feel like facing the world. I'm glad you return that favor. I am blessed because God gave me this wonderful gift of living life with you by my side. Growing old together is becoming more of a reality with each passing day. My heart is certainly wrapped up in yours. I remain Forever your biggest Fan!