Love and Marriage

You can’t truly appreciate the person you were meant to love until you’ve loved the wrong people first.

I don’t know if that is true for everyone but it is definitely true for me. I’ve had the girlfriend who outgrew me and I lamented the loss. I’ve had the psycho girlfriend and hated it. I’ve had the stripper girlfriend and resented it. I’ve slept with a friend’s girlfriend and hated myself for it. In different ways, I loved all of these women and in different ways, my heart was broken. Then I met Lynn.

I’ve been married to Lynn for 23 years now and while my passion might have waned, as age will do to a man; I love her; nay, I adore her now more than ever. As for passion, even now, I get lost, tracing over the contours of her body. I know her hotspots and she knows mine. It’s not a crazy, lustful passion but more a reveling, invigorating trek down an accustomed, favorite woodland path.

I love that.

It’s a fine line though; being familiar and comfortable with a person breeds a false sense of security that leads to taking advantage. This is the place where I can get confused and push boundaries, forgetting just how priceless and irreplaceable this person is. Sometimes this was me and sometimes it was her, but every time, it made us both absolutely miserable.

When you have someone special, make them feel special. It’s that all day, knowing you will fail some of the time but get it right some of the time. If you are with the right person, it will be appreciated and reciprocated.

The first six months of our marriage was Lynn and I, figuring out the ground rules. We hurt each other and got things wrong over and over. Then we talked and agreed on two very true things:

toothpaste1. If you are not happy about something, fix it yourself. Don’t expect the other person to fix it or blame them for it. Cap not on the toothpaste? Put it on and forget about it.

2. Don’t be a jerk. That second one was a biggie for me, because when I found myself shooting my mouth off about something, I would ask, Am I being a jerk? And when I was, and I often was, I backed down to give it some thought. I would love to say that it kept me from being a jerk, but more often, it just made me realize that I had been (past-tense) a jerk, and I had apologies to make.

Later, there was a third thing we agreed on:

3. Forgive the shortcomings and don’t hang on to them. Talk about the things that are really bothering you and listen. Then, let go. Be respectful.

That was a harder one to keep for both Lynn and I, but ultimately it had to happen or you never move on. If you hang on to the past mistakes, bringing them up again and again, you are doomed. Let it go. Let it go. Do not keep score. You both lose.

Okay, one more and I will stop:

4. Compromise. Hopefully, you have things in common but there will be times where you want to do something she doesn’t or vice versa. Find middle ground where you can and give in when you can’t. I’m not saying you have to take her dress shopping every weekend, holding her purse while she tries on clothes, but once in a while, go. Do it. Smile.

Did I say I would stop? Just one more:

5. Hug and kiss. Touch each other. In the morning, after the alarm has gone off and you’ve smacked the snooze, cuddle up for a few minutes or spoon. As you pass her in the kitchen, reach out and stroke your hand across her shoulders. When you kiss her, a peck is fine but sometimes, you need to mean it; a real kiss. Hold her hand as you walk together down the street. Not doing these simple things has probably been the demise of many, many marriages.

Alright – one more and this is the end of the list for real:

6. Don’t say divorce unless you mean it. Period. Divorce is not an empty threat to us. Once said, it cannot be taken back and forgiven. It is the line once crossed, you cannot come back. It is the destroyer. And because Lynn and I both view it this way, we have never, ever threatened with this word during an argument.

So. That’s worked for Lynn and me for 23 The-Jerkyears. Yes, we fight and sometimes have said hurtful things to each other, but eventually, we remember 2 and 3, stop being jerks and forgive each other. Lynn likes to say that I am her lobster. When she first said this, I thought she was referring to me as being like a fancy, quality meal, but she explained that lobsters take one mate for life. I later learned that this is a popular myth and lobsters are not monogamous, but the wonderful sentiment of Lynn’s words still touch my heart.

I don’t know if this can work for you or not. Frankly, some people are just incapable of realizing when they are being a jerk and that is a tough handicap for them and everyone who knows them, but I think everyone deserves to be loved and has love to give, and with the right person, love just happens. From there, you figure it out or you don’t.

© 2012, Mitch Lavender

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