How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
~Elizabeth Barret Browning's Sonnet 43
Paul and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on March 17. I'm finally getting around to blogging about it.
I recently had dinner with a friend of mine who waxed eloquent about the kind of love she wants to find. She said something about "Sex and the City," at which point my ears become totally deaf, but at any rate, her words were something along the lines of finding love that is really passionate and crazy and all-consuming, etc. It's a really nice thought, but I told her that I think too many people are chasing movies and not finding what is actually REAL love. Love isn't always butterflies and giggles, or even amazing sex. Maybe this sounds disheartening to you. Maybe you've been married for a while and you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Please don't think that I'm saying that staying together means that eventually you hate each other. It's not that at all. It's just that we've been through so much history and have fought so many battles (some as friends and some as foes) that we've become accustomed to each other. Maybe we don't laugh at each other's jokes as much as we used to and maybe don't even close the door to the bathroom all the time, but what we have is the real thing.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem describes a love that IS all-consuming. It's a beautiful love that reaches every corner of the woman's soul. It's the kind of love that married people should strive for, no matter how many years.
REAL love is defintely passionate and all-consuming AT TIMES. But not all the time. Sometimes love is very quiet or even grumpy (Paul). Sometimes it flies off the handle at the simplest little thing (ahem--me). But it's constant. It survives. REAL love stands the test of time. Love stays even when all it wants is to leave. It forgives. It forgets. It rubs your feet. It holds your aching, laboring body when you're birthing a baby. Love will care for that baby on an early Saturday morning, too, just to let you sleep. Love will go to work every day to provide for the family. And it will come home at the end of the day to do it all over again. Love is making a choice to love, even when it doesn't feel like loving.
Paul, I'm so thankful for your incredible friendship and love. You're an amazing man, and I hope that you know that I love you more and more every day, even though sometimes it feels like the puppy love is gone. I love you so deeply that loving you has become part of me. I adore you--ten times more than I did on our wedding day. I'm so happy to be your partner, your love. "And, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death." Happy anniversary.