Fire, Ice, and Fog
“I believe that most couples who stay married for 50 or 60 years fall in and out of love numerous times… It is, in my judgment, almost ludicrous to think that we experience ‘being in love’ the same for the entire  years, just like we felt at the beginning of that relationship. That’s just utterly crazy.” —John Piper
I’ve thought about love a lot the last few weeks, anticipating this month of posts. Like I’ve said on Instagram recently, this holiday just isn’t one we care about at our house. However, I know it’s important to a lot of people. Some people even have it as their wedding anniversary! (It is an anniversary of sorts for us – we met on Valentines weekend in 1988. Thirty two years!!)
The truth is, the fluttery feelings don’t stick around long. Physiologically, the crazy-in-love stomach butterflies and rapid heartbeats last about six months to a year, according to research. Whoa, that makes it sound like a cardiac or GI issue, says the nurse in me!
I miss it, I’m not gonna lie. I once told my husband (in a fight) I’d rather be in the fighting phase than in the boring phase of marriage. Maybe that’s why we were attracted to one another. We are so different! Sometimes we grate on each other like sandpaper, but we also love well.
I think that is why John Piper’s quote above resonates with me. Sometimes our life is fire – we are crazy about each other and having fun. Other times we are like ice — cold enough to scorch your skin. But a lot of the time it’s all just a bit foggy – slogging through our days one after the other, hard to see ahead or behind.
If we didn’t have new reasons to fall in love, there might be a higher divorce rate than 50%.
The thing is, committed love is HARD, y’all. When you factor in world views, family differences, personality styles, personal preferences, etc, it’s a wonder anyone stays married. Throw in the stresses of work life, children, and the general heartbreaking curves life can throw at you and, phew! Romance writers should be shot at dawn for their false advertising.
But, wait! This is supposed to be a mushy Valentines post, right?
The truth is, longterm love can get better and better. If both of you fight through the tough stuff, it builds up your empathy muscles. You begin to see one another not through a fog, but through the clear light of reality. We all look bad after five days in bed with the flu, the hissed fight in the bedroom after a disagreement on child care issues makes our blood boil, and falling asleep in the middle of the movie can be a normal thing some weeks or even months. None of that is particularly romantic.
But the shared stories, the inside jokes, the knowing of one another in intimate and loving ways after so many years together is beautiful. That’s why even the most unemotional tough guy can tear up at the Facebook video of the old couple singing to one another in the nursing home. A lifetime of love and laughter and just old fashioned stick- to-itiveness is a rare trait to be treasured.