I’ve been thinking about the phrase “falling in love” quite a bit in the last few days. Several of my Facebook friends are recently divorced or broken up and have been posting things about “falling in love” with the wrong person. But my feelings, and experiences, tell me this: never “fall in love.” I fell in love a number of times over the years, and it never worked out.
“But Richard, you and Abby have been married for almost twelve years. Aren’t you ‘in love’?”
The problem isn’t with love. It’s with “falling.” It implies passivity and chance. It implies reliance on magic. It implies that your love is apart from and outside of you.
That’s not how we run our love life. I know I can speak for Abby when I say you have to work at love every day, on both the good days and the bad days. You have to care for each other, and care for yourself without being selfish.
Your partner will change in ways that you won’t always like. That’s part of the bargain. You are changing too.
Finally, fidelity: Abby and I took our wedding vows seriously, including the phrase, “forsaking all others.” I have to admit to feeling a little pride in taking and keeping that vow, and a considerable amount of disdain for those who break it. No promise I have ever made in my life is more meaningful or more telling of my character than the promise I made to her in October 2004.
This is one of the best thing you’ve ever written and an important reminder of the reality behind all relationships, which is that we can never truly “know” the other person, and that we must WORK at making at relationship, a marriage, “love,” successful and lasting. Everything else is just wishful thinking, which I know from experience will get you into more trouble quicker than anything. I know you and Abby have a great relationship, but I am aware of, and appreciate that, y’all make a decision to keep it going. Something I remind myself of in my own life every day.
Well, said. I think I’ve said in the past that love isn’t a feeling; it’s a thing you DO. Too many including my former self, think love is magic, that it “chooses” you or mystically connects two people. But it’s just a decision, a commitment, a set of actions.
Great post, Richard!
People think marriage is disposable, and that love is based on feelings. Marriage is a commitment. Love is not based on feelings because feelings fluctuate. I spend a lot of time lecturing my friends who don’t feel like being married anymore. I don’t think love isn’t something one can fall in or out of. I don’t think one can ever unlove someone once they love someone. I also don’t think cheating is the unpardonable marriage sin. Infidelity is wrong and painful, but it’s a crisis to work through, not a crisis to end the marriage. For couples who are willing to work through the difficult times, the awkward phases of getting to know one another, and the unending challenges that marriage brings, the reward is to realize that you are sharing your life with the one person who knows you better than anyone one else ever could — the love of your life.