I’m not sure yet how I feel about having my daughter get into princesses, princes, and fairy tales. The first princess items made their way into our home recently and to be honest, I inwardly groaned when they did. This is new to me, so the jury’s still out, but I want my daughter to know what love really looks like. My husband and I just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and our love is so different from the mushy ideals presented in the fairy tales I loved as a girl.
My husband compliments me, but he does not complete me. He fills in so many voids, but does not meet every desire of my heart.
Instead, love looks like changing sheets–twice–together at 2 am after your son has vomited all over them. It is the inordinate delight of having someone make and deliver coffee to you as you sit nursing a baby before the sun has come up. It is someone who lets you put your icy cold feet on them as you are curled together in a C as you fall asleep. Love is a husband who eats anything you put in front of him and never makes fun of or criticizes you–ever.
Love is being told you look beautiful when you can’t remember if you brushed your hair, are not wearing make-up and are certainly wearing the same hoody you wore three out of the last seven days. It is praying and seeking community together. It is catching each other’s eye across the room when your son says something hilarious and you are trying to be serious and not crack a smile.
It is having a constant in your life after years of being alone. My mom reminded me of a time many years ago when I had to sign a heap of paperwork at the hospital and I just started crying and said, “THIS is why I want a husband. So I don’t have to do all of this by myself!” I had similar feelings when I had to drag all my luggage with me into airport bathrooms, fill up my gas in -15 degree weather, pay bills, figure out my taxes (I gave up, to be honest–thank you, dad…), and viciously guard my possessions when traveling alone in China. I prayed for someone who would BE with me in life’s transitions. Someone I wouldn’t have to explain my complex web of relationships and history to. A constant would be there for holiday meals and wouldn’t send my host rushing to pull up the “extra” chair because I made our numbers odd.
Love is in the physical intimacy that you share, though I’ve been shocked by how much NOT like the movies it is. Hollywood conveniently leaves out the humanizing moments of laughter over surprising bodily noises, mishaps, head and teeth bumps and the aspects that just don’t work, in spite of your aspirations towards creativity. The movies don’t account for the mess of it all (in so many senses). But love is in those times, too, imperfect as they are, as they give you an opportunity to connect on bad days and good days. On days when it feels like the world is going to end and you can’t trust politicians or world leaders to keep you protected, there is comfort in the nearness of another human soul and the closest connection two humans can have. It is a taste of Eden in a world of chaos. A vulnerable love that sheds your skin of shame. That leaves you feeling loved because you are accepted and celebrated in your nakedness.
Love looks like understanding and doing what you can to meet each other’s needs, whether that be for deep conversation, sex, alone time, or just the need to meet a craving for French Fries or a cup of coffee (even if it means driving 10 miles out of the way). It is knowing that your husband is an introvert and wants to shut down after an evening with people, but that your wife, an extrovert, will want to chatter away for an hour after you get home. Love tries to understand that you have different thresholds for people that you need to make allowances for as you schedule your time.
These are the moments I actually longed for when I was single–not the sweep-me-off-my-feet, passionate thrill of love, but the togetherness, the commitment, the security of knowing that someone would love me, respect me and serve me even on the rough days. Love is having a man to share about my day with and offer to cook me omelets when I am exhausted and standing dejectedly in front of the refrigerator at dinner time. It is being parents, lovers, friends, partners, co-conspirators, and each other’s greatest fans.
It is a piece of art made up of a thousand moments recorded, which together tell the story of love.
After five years of marriage, this is what love looks like for us. We are tired, have made personal sacrifices, put passions on the shelf and are still working on communicating well. So though life is perhaps not being lived perfectly “happily ever after,” I am sometimes made to feel like a princess in disguise.
What does love look like for you? I’d love to hear some real life examples in the comments!