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.

Exclamation Point, Question Mark

They sit proud and tall at their table

oblivious to the others around them.

They know their place.

They do not bend themselves around things

that have no answers.

It is their job to speak with power.

 

The Exclamation Points always knew how to end a sentence.

Life was a fact.

The world was a speech to be made.

But despite their supposed confidence,

Their ecstatic enthusiasm,

they never did know how to interact with uncertainty.

This is how it is! Accept it.

Stop asking so many questions.

 

But across the hall,

at another table

sits a different kind of Exclamation Point.

He is older than the others,

a little wiser,

shoulders hunched from age.

He has learned that

life is not a textbook of rules

or a shouting match

and you cannot thrive if

you are unwilling to ask questions.

Why do we hate?

How can we love?

What do we fear?

He had learned when it was time to bend

himself into a Question

and when it was time to stand tall

with conviction.

 

I

am a tired exclamation point

who is learning how far I can bend

before I snap.

I will love.

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I will love. More. So much love that no

one will have any idea what to do with me.

They will watch with a confused look and

wonder why I give so much and do not ask

for more in return. I will give it because

giving is getting and there is nothing

quite so important as emptying your heart

every single day and leaving nothing

undone, no declarations of it unsaid.

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I will not only stop and smell the flowers,

I will plant them myself and watch them

grow old with me. I will pull over and

dance in every single rainfall, and I

will make snow angels even when there is

hardly any snow left for the wings.

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I will never, ever believe in the words

“too late” because it is never too late

to be exactly who you wish, do exactly

what you should, say exactly what needs

to be heard, and live the exact life

you should be living.

Tyler Knott Gregson