Love…In So Many Words
When you share a long history with someone, your love for each other is an intricate blend of the many life experiences that have shaped you as a couple. It is like a good homemade soup. If you sneak a taste from the pot in its early stages, the flavors, while good, have not yet had a chance to simmer and develop. Oh, the promise of a delicious dish is there, but a taste at any of the in-between stages will yield a different culinary experience each time.
I think that the ancient Greeks had the right idea in their different words for love, and I wish that we could capture the special stages of love in our own lives in a similar way.
I wish there was a word that captured that earth-trembling feeling when Dennis and I first spoke the powerful words “I love you.” The word that captured that would have to be a mix of anticipation, and then relief to hear it in return. It is a healthy exercise to remember that moment and realize that the impact of those words changed our lives.
There should also be a special word that means the jittery, “butterflies in your stomach” love of our wedding day, so full of promise for the future. We both felt the butterflies, me on the rehearsal night, and Dennis on our wedding day as my hand was placed in his.
Is there a word that could capture the awestruck love we felt at the sight of our first child, as we gazed in wonder at the beauty of her face? And shouldn’t that word capture the immediate devotion we both felt for her and the overwhelming sense of responsibility to protect her? How beautiful was that time of the two of us becoming three, and how close we both felt to God, so deeply grateful for the gift of our daughter!
That time of becoming not just a husband or wife, but a father and mother to someone was so poignant for us both. That deeply emotional word could be used for the joy of each additional child with which we were blessed.
Perhaps there could be a word that captures the two-edged sword that love can sometimes be in a long marriage. We both remember times when we rose to the occasion and leaped to the defense of the other. And we both remember times when we failed to love as we should, when self-interest took precedence. Maybe that word could reflect the sorrow we felt for having disappointed the other, and the peace of being forgiven.
I think a word that meant the love which has made us laugh until our sides hurt over the silly idiosyncrasies in our different personalities would be good – Dennis with his perfectionist tendencies, and me with my love of bakeries. We laughed the other day about the time when our second daughter’s picture was put in the Diocesan Art Show.
It was a torn paper depiction of an elephant. How much it bothered Dennis that the ear was not torn enough to flap proportionately, and how he tried to talk her into fixing it, only to have the budding young artist stubbornly refuse to do so! Perhaps that word would remind us of how we laughed to realize it was already good enough for the art show and that after all, she was only nine years old! Oh, that would be a fun word!
And how about a word that meant the way the other amuses us with their silly mistakes? I once bought the world’s ugliest computer desk because I got it at a garage sale for a good price, and he threatened to put a sign on it that said “We’ll pay you to take this” and put it on our front lawn. Well, I guess that word would have to include my honest confession that though I got it for a song, it really was ugly!
Perhaps there could be a word that meant the steady love of knowing the other was there for us in the really hard times, like when my mother died, or his brother. That word would be a beautiful blend of sorrow and comfort and grief shared. A blessing indeed!
Love in the long term is such an interesting mix of “crazy about you” and “you drive me crazy.” I know that he will never approve of the way I load the dishwasher, and he knows that I am untrustworthy around the last doughnut. I know that he does not like breakfast for dinner, and he knows that nothing speaks love to me like a bag of roasted coffee beans. When I look back over the years, I trust that God is making a wonderful soup out of some very simple ingredients, and it is up to Dennis and me to keep things simmering. God has chosen well for me, and though there are not specific words to capture the many forms of love in our marriage, I think the word “forever” may just do nicely for now.