The best advice I ever got on love came not from a Glamour Magazine, or a girl friend, or a love guru. The best advice I ever received on love, was from my Dad.
I was married at the age of 25. And at the age of 25, I had very high expectations of what my life and my marriage would be like. I was, shall we say, naive.
10 years, 3 kids, 3 houses, 3 jobs, 2 degrees, 1 robbery, 9/11,financial turmoil, an emergency C-section, a week with a child in Mayo Clinic after a freak accident, a tornado, a hail storm, a damaged house, let’s just say I wasn’t naive anymore. I had become a cynic.
It was a hot July day on the back porch of my parent’s house. I was talking to my Dad about marriage. I was crying. So much crap had happened. So many things we had not expected. So much life. My Dad said, “the question you have to ask yourself is, ‘do you love the core?'” Do you love the core? When you determine what matters to you and what doesn’t matter to you, do you love your spouse for who they are at their center?
I couldn’t answer this right away. I had been on the surface for so long you see, loving or not loving my spouse for what he did or did not do, for what he produced, for what he gave. I realize now I was loving him based on whether he was meeting my expectations.
So I went home and I asked myself, “Do I love the core?” And I sat back and I watched. I watched a man who used to be a boy who still had much of his boyhood in him, as he found wonder in science fiction and history, and I loved him for that. I saw a man who became a father, who could get on the floor and read, and pretend, and play for hours with his children and experience great joy. And I loved him for that. I watched a man who acknowledged his depression and addressed it and I loved him for that. I looked deep into his faithfulness and his kindness and I realized, “I do. I do love him at his core.”
This is not a question you ask once. It’s not a question you every day either. Every once in a while check in with why you love the people you are given to love.
It was then that I had to ask, “does he love me at my core?” I mean after all, I am high maintenance and a control freak. Could he look through all of my insecurities and annoyances and love me at my core?
I think, most days, he does.
Today, going on 16 years, I am no longer naive and I am no longer a cynic. I would say that my expectations are to live each day grateful when communication works and patient when it doesn’t. To live each day remembering to laugh and enjoy the passing of life, remembering that when stuff happens, this too shall pass. To take life seriously without being too serious. And most of all to remember that I have been blessed with the gift of loving someone for who they are, at their core.
Happy Valentine’s Day.