The loyal kind of love

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They broke up for their families.

That’s what you told me over the crowd, as an afterthought while the group behind us laughed loudly. They broke up because they fell in love, but they were both married so they decided to go separate ways to save their marriages.

The conversation moved on quickly and nothing more was said about them, but this image haunted me long after talk shifted to celebrities and other scandals. Two musicians, making art together, fell in love over the art, but didn’t let their emotions stop them. They were stronger than what they felt. And they decided to choose differently.

– – – – –

I am afraid of marriage.

There. I said it.

I spent years dreaming about the ceremony, the colors and the dress and the flowers (gosh I love flowers), and whether I would serve dinner or just hors d’oeuvres? But the part that comes after “I do”. I have woken in cold sweats at 3am over dreams of divorce. Death. Or worse: boredom. Discontentment. The 7th year itch.

I’ve heard them all. The warnings. Don’t marry him for who he is now, because he’s going to change and you’ll wake up next to a stranger. Don’t marry him for who he could be, because you need to love him for who he is right now. Don’t marry him for what he could give you, don’t marry him for how he makes you feel, blah blah blah. All the advice has turned into one big pile of crap and I am left with major commitment issues, feeling like Snoopy – I think I’d rather just crawl under the porch and die.

I have never gotten very good advice about marriage, and it’s not because I haven’t asked. I had to put down the marriage self-help books because of the waves of anxiety that would wash over me every time I picked one up. I wish nothing more than to sit down at the feet of someone I admire and plead, tell me your secret. Tell me how you still glow.

But no matter how many books I read, how many blogs I follow, I find myself still yearning for some secret I haven’t yet learned and that is when I discovered something: we all want the answer to an unanswerable question. We all want the guaranteed “3 steps to perfect your marriage”, and there are plenty of people who are willing to put their ten cents in on the topic. But that 3-step formula doesn’t exist. There’s no how-to manual for doing life with a completely one-of-a-kind human being.

I’ve never been married – I can’t tell you what it’s like. But I do know that there’s no finish line. I know that every day is a choice, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I know that being honest about when I’m scared or doubting is the best way to relieve fear and doubt. I know that love is more than a fleeting emotion, but a skyscraper that you build brick by brick.

And if you seek out a wise man, he will pace himself. He will show up in the unspoken moments, the quiet hand in yours, the steady shoulder you lean your head on. He may not write poetry, but he’s the kind of person who always has to check the oil in your car before you drive, just in case.

Beware the man who tells you you’re the prettiest girl in the world, because you’re not. There will always be someone who is prettier than you. But choose the man who tells you that you’re the prettiest girl in his world, because he just might be telling the truth.

– – – – –

There’s only one kind of love that’s cool anymore – the passionate kind of love. The kind that kisses fervently in the rain and tells someone “my feelings will not be repressed”.

But the kind of love that says goodbye to a man you’ve fallen in love with to choose the man you’ve stayed in love with just isn’t cool anymore. It’s not flashy or glamorous. But it’s romantic because it’s loyal. The loyal kind of love is the kind that lasts.

They broke up to save their marriages – that’s what people say. I don’t know if the story is true. But even if it’s not, I hope I will be the kind of woman who says no to what’s convenient to say yes to what is lasting. Because loyalty might just be the secret I’m hoping for.

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9 thoughts on “The loyal kind of love

  1. I love this blog post, Hannah! However, I think that it is possible to have both a passionate and loyal type of love. This is just my opinion though.

    • Oh, absolutely! I didn’t mean to say that you can’t have both – but ultimately, loyalty is the kind of love that stays with you. Passion comes and goes depending on the mood, but loyalty is for always.

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  2. This is a great blog post! I was married for 18 years and was fortunate to experience the both the passionate and the loyal kinds of love in our marriage. Truly, the challenges of marriage that come from being imperfect humans in a broken world seem to require all four types of love at one time or another.

  3. Loyalty all the way! I don’t think there is a secret to marriage. I think the key is right there in the vows all along. To have and to hold. . . until death do us part.

    Also, I love this: “He may not write poetry, but he’s the kind of person who always has to check the oil in your car before you drive, just in case.”

  4. I found your blog through the “…man’s perspective on modesty” post and couldn’t stop reading 🙂 This post spoke so sweetly to me, Hannah! I’m married now, but before I met my husband, I was briefly engaged to a boy who abused me and left me feeling like there was no such thing as a good marriage or a true love. And as much as the church and its people helped me, most of the pre-marital advice my husband and I received was along the lines of, “you’ll fight, it’ll be hard, you won’t always be in love, etc,” and it was incredibly intimidating. On our wedding day, I was more calm than I’d ever been before, and I almost forgot to kiss my dad when he gave me away because all I could see was my husband’s face (literally, it was like the sweetest tunnel vision ever). Yes, marriage has challenges and yes, love is more than just an emotion, and yes loyalty is such an important piece of the puzzle. But when the person is right and the time is right, everything is so clear and so peaceful and that fear will be cast out, just as God promises. Not because marriages are perfect, but because they are imaging a perfect Love. Some people fight more than others, some people are more grandly romantic than others, and some people are more easily pleased than others. I think the church does a good thing by trying to prepare young people for marriage, but I also think it sometimes warns too much and celebrates too little. Marriage is a good gift, different for everyone because everyone is different. But if what God has planned for you is marriage, your fears will vanish when it appears 🙂

    • Grace…I feel as though we are already friends. Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, it means so much to me! I so appreciate your advice in the midst of navigating these commitment conversations with my sweet boyfriend. That brings me so much peace, thank you.

  5. Pingback: All you need is commitment | Nichole Parks

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