Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The House That Love Built

"  We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. " ~Author Unknown

Perhaps it is the fact that the stores are now filled with Valentines, or that my son just announced his engagement, but this morning my mind has been drawn to thoughts of love. 
Love is many different things to many different people. When I was a child, love was my mother holding my hand, my dad buying me a Choc-cola, my sister letting me play with her dolls, and the way that birds fluttered in the sky. Later, it was a smile from a boy, a compliment from a friend- a record player with cool music. 
Love grows. It divides. It does not stay in one form, but spreads into all the rooms of the heart. It is a chameleon- changing with the place, the day, the person. Love is every color of the rainbow, even in the midst of a storm.
Even the love I feel for my husband after thirty four years, changes with time. It matures. It revises. It enriches daily like a lush garden in the spring. But we must always tend to it. We must never leave it unattended or forsaken.

" If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden."  ~Claudia Ghandi

Love is not always easy. 
Sometimes it can be Hell.  
There will be fights over money, the kids, the remote control, the blouse you're wearing, the friends he keeps, the crappy car you drive, the leaky faucet, the scratchy bedsheets, the poopy dog...
But the thing about love is that it will gladly endure that Hell in order to make things right again. Love always strives to be on top- to be the best- to win out over selfishness, unfaithfulness, and indifference. It's a pretty strong love that can go through Hell, come back, and be stronger. 
And then do the same thing over and over again for years and years.

"  Tell me how many beads there are
In a silver chain
Of evening rain,
Unraveled from the tumbling main,
And threading the eye of a yellow star: -
So many times do I love again."
~Thomas Lovell Beddoes


Sometimes I look back at my wedding and regret the things I didn't have. There were no flowers, no music- and I even wore pants. A local preacher married us at his house for ten dollars, we bought a bottle of champagne, and spent the night at our little rented farmhouse. Would I have liked to have some photographs, some different memories, a better story? Yes, but it is not the wedding that matters- it's the marriage.

The wedding is just the front door to the rest of your lives together. 
What's inside- the things you build, nourish, embellish, and cherish- is the true foundation of your union.
And just because my front door is a little cheap, paint-worn, and outdated- doesn't mean my house isn't beautiful inside.
Love is what we make it.
"  Chains do not hold a marriage together.  It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. " ~Simone Signoret

Love isn't always flamboyant. It isn't flashing, loud, pulsating or passionate. Sometimes it consists of unsaid words or deeds that build layers of trust and affection.
My husband doesn't realize that I always give him the softest towels, the biggest steak, the last cookie, and the best pillow. But it is a habit that I continue because it is my way of loving him. A secret sentiment that bonds me to him. A way to make him comfortable in this house of marriage.
Women-libbers hate me. I wash his back, lay out his clothes, run his errands, grant him the television, cut his toenails and take out the trash. But that is just my unspoken way of devotion.
Everyone has their own way- their own rules- their own house of love. Decorate it- fill it- build it any way that you see fit. 
But do it together.
Yet-all the while, be only who you are. Don't fake it, force it, or forget it. Retain your identity- preserve your personality.

"  Love is, above all, the gift of oneself."  ~Jean Anouilh
A new marriage knows nothing of sadness, but it must be prepared for what is to come. There will be tragedies and sorrows. There will ultimately be the passing of parents, the death of dear pets, an unexpected illness, a financial setback. But we are not with our mate to only share the good times. We must be willing to cry- to allow our hearts to break a little- and all the while, be a comfort and a rock to one another.
In a good marriage, the sun will rise again, the smiles will return- the day will be new and promising.

"  You learn to like someone when you find out what makes them laugh, but you can never truly love someone until you find out what makes them cry. " ~Author Unknown

One piece of advice I would give to my children is to never give up. Keep trying even through the worst storms- even when it seems there is no hope, because sometimes there is a spark that will ignite again. Don't leave after the first fight, separate at the first disagreement, grow bitter with jealousy...Treat the other with the respect and concern that you wish to be treated with.
However, if- after all remedies have run their course- all treatments tried, all mending tested- and there is positively no future- then don't be afraid to say so. Don't stay in a relationship that wilts your soul.

Someone once said that: to say your marriage was a failure just because you got a divorce- is like saying your life was a failure just because you died.
You can always build a new house with a new person. Just make sure you agree on the foundation.
A perfect marriage is an oxymoron. No one has it. Everyone wants it. It's not attainable.
I struggle everyday to keep an even keel. Marriage is hard work. But it is a labor of the heart and worth the effort.

Making your spouses day as sweet as you would wish your own, aids in a goal of harmony and
eternal happiness.


"  Infatuation is when you think he's as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Conners.  Love is when you realize that he's as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger and nothing like Robert Redford - but you'll take him anyway."  ~Judith Viorst, Redbook, 1975

Sometimes I look at my husband and see George Clooney- hot, sexy, sophisticated, and delicious. But there are other times I see him as Pa Kettle- tired, used, eccentric and odd. Some days he is the very stars that shine. Other days he is Lucifer himself. One morning he is my sunshine, the next he is my rain. One evening he is the bright and glowing moon, others he is the darkness and the shadows.
But, through all that- I realize that I am the same wheel of personalities. (Yet, secretly hoping I am Sandra Bullock a lot more often than I am Ma Kettle!)
It is true love that can see beyond the smile, the eyes, the sports car, the bank account, the tan, the muscles, the boobs, the sex, the fun- and see the soul. And to love that very soul is the recipe for a good marriage.

"  'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark our coming, and look brighter when we come."  ~Lord Byron
No one can know your heart- or you theirs. How you live your life and build your dreams is up to you. But once you fall in love, you are a one-winged angel that needs the other one-winged angel in order to fly. Knowing when to land in unison and knowing when to soar together- is the secret.

"  Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction."  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery