In a few days we will be getting married—a secret-not-so-secret elopement on one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. I am so excited to be married to you and to blend our little family, one that has already made room for you in our hearts and accepted your kindness, love, chivalrous and dashing and hilarious manner, one that has already forever changed by your thoughtfulness and intelligence and presence in making our lives better. The girls long ago embraced you as someone to love, and every time they ask you for anything, like the “flip-over,” or run to hug you, it makes my heart grow that much larger.
So I thought I might write down some of the things you have taught me so far about what it means to be loved. Lessons that may seem to be normal and run of the mill to many, because they know these things like the back of their hand, but for the many adventurous twists and turns of my life, I didn’t get to learn until I learned them with you. And while I still feel the giggly, starry-eyed way about you the way I did on our first date, what I’ve learned through the turbulence of the past is to value equally the big picture, the big stuff, along-side the glowing stars.
LOVE MEANS LISTENING AND RESPONDING, OFFERING HELP WITHOUT PAYING A PRICE: You have done so many things for us, from the simple kindness of remembering to pick up an extra jar of mayonnaise or loaf of bread or conditioner, to the thoughtful purchase of the family pass to the zoo so the kids can see their favorite animals and get discounts on our favorite snacks (chicken fingers!), to getting us the new car because I got in a fender bender with my old one. And you do these things, with thoughtful consideration, i.e. saying that the car was 14 years old and falling apart, so maybe it’s just a sign to get a new one—without blinking an eye, without getting upset that we ran out of bread, or exploding in anger that I got in an accident (thankfully no one was hurt!), and you offer your kindness and help for this very simple reason: because you love us and want to take care of us. I see this in all of your actions, in our decisions that we make about our life now and in the future, how you incorporate what is good for us simply because you love us so. *swoon*
LOVE MEANS IT'S OK TO HAVE ANY KIND OF EMOTION--EVEN ANGER--AND IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE DANGEROUS: Through our time together, we have already gone through periods of conflict, much of it due to my ex, but some of it, just general, normal differences of opinions that come up when people get closer to each other. Emotions have run high and voices have been raised, but even in those moments, there are breaks of humor, sincere attempts to listen, acceptance of each other’s side, and genuine efforts to compromise—even if it means we agree to disagree. And I’ve learned it’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay to be upset, and that we can work through those feelings together without the house erupting into lava and crumbling into ash. Instead, you say we become stronger for these lively discussions, that sometimes you are thankful that we go through conflict, because it means we really care and we prove our commitment to each other by coming to a resolution together.
LOVE MEANS LETTING ME LOVE YOU: You have made remarks that you’ve never been loved and treated the way you have been by me; that you’ve never felt as comfortable with anyone in your life. You say you have no anxiety, no worries keeping you up at night—you are at peace. And you aren’t used to that, and sometimes it makes you crazy, makes you look for something to worry about to ‘balance’ it out. And yet, instead of walling me off because these new feelings make you uncomfortable, you invite me closer, you share your worries and concerns, you let me love you and touch you and become closer to you every day.
LOVE MEANS FACING THE THINGS WE ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH AND WE'RE OKAY ANYWAY: There is a lot of conflict external to our relationship—complicated dynamics with our families, especially with my ex, but we long ago decided we will face them all together, out of love for one another. You have commented how you have broken bonds with your family, and yet you have made avenues for your family to embrace me, and I’m making every effort to include them in our lives going forward.
My own family has complicated dynamics and we are doing the same with them—hoping to build stronger relationships and opening a two-way path. We are facing these complications so that maybe we can heal these broken bonds, or maybe it might be that we can’t, but at least we will always know we are trying to mend these relationships—together.
LOVE MEANS LOVING US JUST AS WE ARE AND STRIVING TO MAKE OUR LIVES BETTER: I am a feminist, working mom of two, with stressors and pressures coming at me every which way, and the one thing you love most about me is my brain—which includes my feisty thoughts on social injustice, on parenting, politics, on feminism, on dealing with conflict. You are an intelligent, liberal, creative person, who lives on the metro side of manhood (which I love and find endearing) and while you came from a bit of a silvered spoon background, at the same time you have the capacity to understand socioeconomic disparities and are one of two people who embrace Obamacare at your workplace chock full of rich republicans—citing this reason: so now a million children can have healthcare.
We are both working on making our bodies healthy, and your dedication about health and wellness, while partly tilted towards vanity (looking good for people ‘our age’ or any age for that matter, lol), it is mostly tilted towards the simple and somewhat difficult goal (especially in our consumption society of America)—to being healthy for health’s sake. Because being healthy means we have the best chance at living out a long life together.
We are also facing the parts of ourselves we have difficulties with—anxiety, fear, doubt, which have for both of us been years in the making, and which also have at times become seeds for conflict. These are the very same things we have chosen to actively improve on. And we are doing that together, too. I’ve seen changes in how you deal with anxiety, and I’ve seen you apologize and mean it when that anxiety sometimes hurts both of us. I have also taken measured steps to improve on my anxiety and to minimize the impact on us. No easy feat that, but something that we’re both determined to do—and you’ve shown me with actions, not just words.
I remember once reading an article refuting the “if you can’t accept me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best,” phrase—which basically said, fix your worst! Because the people who love you deserve better than being treated by what might be your “worst.” Many people disagreed with the article, because of the parallels made about participation trophies and such. But I do agree with this basic premise and see that you and I—we are doing everything we can not to “settle” on who we are, but to be better in the ways we need to be better, to “fix” the parts of us that are hurtful and can be hurtful. And yet at the same time, accepting and loving each other for all our good and not so good parts.
INTIMACY IS A CONVERSATION THAT GROWS AND FLOURISHES: I once joked with a fellow divorcee, that after all we’ve been through and after all we’ve suffered, we are just simply too old for bad sex. Ha ha ha! And it’s true, sex with you is amazing—a passionate conversation that leaves me breathless and wanting more, and the more we “do it,” the more amazing it becomes. People might think it’s gross or crazy to want to have sex when we’re all old and wrinkly, but I have this distinctive feeling that no matter how old we are or how wrinkly we get, we will find joy in physical intimacy with each other. Because right now, in our ‘middle age,’ we love loving each other physically—not just because of the physical, sexiness of it all, but because our sexiness is based on passion, comfort, and emotion.
So let me close this letter, my darling, with a wish for us to remember how we feel now, in the days leading up to our wedding day—yes there are some stressors in our lives at the moment, work and blended family responsibilities, but there is so much hope and love and kindness, too. You have taught me that it’s safe to open my heart again, and not only that, together we’ve grown our hearts to be five sizes larger than they once were. I am looking forward to the many years to come where we keep growing, living, loving, sharing the years out together that we are so lucky to share with each other.
I love you. <3
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