I have a friend who is falling in love. She honestly claims
the sky is bluer. Mozart moves her to tears. She has lost 15
pounds and looks like a cover girl.
"I'm young again!" she shouts exuberantly.
As my friend raves on about her new love, I've taken a good
look at my old one. My husband of almost 20 years, Scott,
has gained 15 pounds. Once a marathon runner, he now runs
only down hospital halls. His hairline is receding and his
body shows the signs of long working hours and too many
candy bars. Yet he can still give me a certain look across a
restaurant table and I want to ask for the check and head
When my friend asked me "What will make this love last?" I
ran through all the obvious reasons: commitment, shared
interests, unselfishness, physical attraction,
communication. Yet there's more. We still have fun.
Spontaneous good times. Yesterday, after slipping the rubber
band off the rolled up newspaper, Scott flipped it playfully
at me: this led to an all-out war. Last Saturday at the
grocery, we split the list and raced each other to see who
could make it to the checkout first. Even washing dishes can
be a blast. We enjoy simply being together.
And there are surprises. One time I came home to find a note
on the front door that led me to another note, then another,
until I reached the walk-in closet. I opened the door to
find Scott holding a "pot of gold " (my cooking kettle) and
the "treasure" of a gift package. Sometimes I leave him
notes on the mirror and little presents under his pillow.
There is understanding. I understand why he must play
basketball with the guys. And he understands why, once a
year, I must get away from the house, the kids - and even
him-to meet my sisters for a few days of nonstop talking and
There is sharing. Not only do we share household worries and
parental burdens - we also share ideas. Scott came home from
a convention last month and presented me with a thick
historical novel. Though he prefers thrillers and science
fiction, he had read the novel on the plane. He touched my
heart when he explained it was because he wanted to be able
to exchange ideas about the book after I'd read it.
There is forgiveness. When I'm embarrassingly loud and crazy
at parties, Scott forgives me. When he confessed losing some
of our savings in the stock market, I gave him a hug and
said, "It's okay. It's only money."
There is sensitivity. Last week he walked through the door
with that look that tells me it's been a tough day. After he
spent some time with the kids, I asked him what happened. He
told me about a 60-year-old woman who'd had a stroke. He
wept as he recalled the woman's husband standing beside her
bed, caressing her hand. How was he going to tell this
husband of 40 years that his wife would probably never
recover? I shed a few tears myself. Because of the medical
crisis. Because there were still people who have been
married 40 years. Because my husband is still moved and
concerned after years of hospital rooms and dying patients.
There is faith. Last Tuesday a friend came over and
confessed her fear that her husband is losing his courageous
battle with cancer. On Wednesday I went to lunch with a
friend who is struggling to reshape her life after divorce.
On Thursday a neighbor called to talk about the frightening
effects of Alzheimer's disease on her father-in-law's
personality. On Friday a childhood friend called
long-distance to tell me her father had died. I hung up the
phone and thought, This is too much heartache for one week.
Through my tears, as I went out to run some errands, I
noticed the boisterous orange blossoms of the gladiolus
outside my window. I heard the delighted laughter of my son
and his friend as they played. I caught sight of a wedding
party emerging from a neighbor's house. The bride, dressed
in satin and lace, tossed her bouquet to her cheering
friends. That night, I told my husband about these events.
We helped each other acknowledge the cycles of life and that
the joys counter the sorrows. It was enough to keep us
Finally, there is knowing. I know Scott will throw his
laundry just shy of the hamper every night; he'll be late to
most appointments and eat the last chocolate in the box. He
knows that I sleep with a pillow over my head; I'll lock us
out of the house at a regular basis, and I will also eat the
I guess our love lasts because it is comfortable. No, the
sky is not bluer: it's just a familiar hue. We don't feel
particularly young: we've experienced too much that has
contributed to our growth and wisdom, taking its toll on our
bodies, and created our memories.
I hope we've got what it takes to make our love last. As a
bride, I had Scott's wedding band engraved with Robert
Browning's line "Grow old along with me!" We're following
"If anything is real, the heart will make it plain."