When I was a teenager I grew infatuated with romance novels. I loved love. I loved the thought of love, the look of love and most of all being in love with the one who loved me most. Those novels craftily sucked me into the fairytale of romantic love and I’m willing to bet some of you too. I desperately wanted to have that INTENSE love I grew to admire! Believe it or not I am still very much a romantic after twenty+ years of marriage. However, I am fully aware of the pitfalls of my fantasy. Reality has a way of ruining even the best intended dreams. Don’t get me wrong, I still love love. I just now love it differently.
Living together brings interesting challenges to the ideal of love. It tests the depth and fabric of the love you profess. We say we got married because we deeply loved one another but how much is the question. When encountered by the habits and upbringing of another adult, love can quickly turn into frustration, anger and dislike. I had not prepared for the differences, conflict and confusion that arise in marriage. I figured if Ray would just do what I wanted; when I wanted it and how I wanted it done all would be back to fantasy land. I had no idea he would have the same thoughts about me. As time went by, I became angry with what I wasn’t getting from Ray. I was easily frustrated by the littlest of things he would do that were different from me. I couldn’t believe this was the man who claimed to intensely love me more than anyone. I was so wrong about wanting this INTENSE love. It wasn’t all that the romance novels pictured it to be.
When I settled down and did some research, I realized I had it all wrong. The love I wanted was still achievable and, in fact, was present and alive. I just didn’t see it. The word intense comes from the Latin word intendere meaning “to stretch out.” I wasn’t happy because to do things Ray’s way required some compromises or even changes and change is hard. It caused me to open my eyes to different perspectives rather than sticking with what I already know. It made me reach deep inside myself and face the fact that I am an imperfect human being capable of improvement. This love I wanted so desperately challenged me to stretch beyond the single me to the 2.0 me, the married me. Relationships are hard whether at work with your boss, at home with your child or extended family like in-laws. As difficult as they may be the pressure to fix them daunts your existence and fractures your inner peace. Your only choice is to figure out how to make them better, especially your 24/7 marriage. You can choose to fight the pressure of modification or allow the process to transform you into something new and beautiful. As you open yourself up to change, you allow your journey to inspire your husband, children, family and friends to do the same.
You see I had it right after all (pun intended, ha)! Intense love is not only what I wanted but what I needed. And although it may not always be romantic, it is always right in the arms of the one you love! My hope is that you too allow yourself to be ever-changing, ever-growing into the new and improved you with the gentle nudge by the love of your life, your superman, pool boy or whatever he is to you tonight (wink, wink).