I don’t remember the first time my husband said he loved me.
First date, first kiss, when he proposed, our anniversary, what songs were sung at our wedding, what he said when I told him I was pregnant with Aubrey, the look on his face and even what he was wearing when his adoption of Sarah was finalized – all these things I remember.
I have no recollection of how, when or where the first “I love you” was said.
That is a fact that would probably surprise many people. I am a details person. I can tell you what I was wearing, where I was standing, what was said and a million other things about completely insignificant moments in my Life, but I cannot begin to recall the first time Randall told me he loved me.
It’s not that I didn’t care to hear it or that I didn’t feel the same way. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. I already knew. I shared the feelings. It wasn’t a shocking or unexpected revelation.
Shouldn’t love always be that way?
If you are in love, it isn’t hard. Let me repeat myself – if you are truly, 100%, genuinely in love, it is not hard.
What you call “love” should never be tinged with “ifs” and “buts.” I love him IF he does this for me. I love her, BUT I need her to change these things about herself.
Love is not contingent on what others can do for you or what they are willing to do to be with you. Love isn’t about playing games with your significant other and making them jump through hoops to understand you. And, very definitely, love is not about how much control you can wield over your partner.
Those of you who know me may be thinking, “She has been married three times. What can she possibly know about love?” All I can say is that my mistakes were my own to make, I have definitely made more than my share and I try to focus more on what I’ve learned and what I am doing now – not what I did in another part of my life. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge me by my past. I don’t live there anymore.”
I grew up in a family with parents who will have been married for 40 years on February 25 of this year. They were close and still are. I knew what love looked like and how it felt to hear that I was loved and to know that I was part of a loving family.
I had all the examples right in front of me, and I still chose my own crooked path.
Unfortunately, I am a fixer. That was how I ended up in my first marriage at 21 and out of my first marriage at 22. I thought I could mold him into the person I wanted him to be. I knew going in that warning lights were going off all around that relationship, but my immature pride and determination got in the way. I thought I could create love where there was clearly a lack of it.
Looking back, I think perhaps I was in love more with the idea of getting married than of actually being married. All my friends were getting engaged and settling down, and I was living in Texas with no family nearby. I made a ridiculous choice, and I paid dearly for it for many years both financially and emotionally.
And that’s pretty much all I would like to say about that. I made bad choices, and I was the one who had to pay the consequences. It’s not worth detailing.
Unfortunately, I also have a hopeless romantic side that craves a big, happy ending. Cue the second marriage.
You will not hear me say anything negative about my second ex-husband. He is a good guy with a big heart, and we were great friends for several years. He was with me through some fairly difficult times, and I wish him only the best in life.
I got into the marriage for all the wrong reasons. I had divorced a year earlier and had been seeing someone off and on during that time. We had recently broken up again, and I met this nice guy who seemed really interested in me and who filled in many of the blanks never filled in by the person I had been seeing. He was in the military and was about to leave to go to Korea for a year. We had great times together and enjoyed each other’s company. We were faced with the decision many couples make when one of them is in the military – stay together and try to work it out long distance or break it off and see if our paths ever cross again.
I wanted him in my life. He wanted me in his life. So what did we do? We got engaged. When he came home on mid-tour, we got married. He went back to Korea for six more months, and when he came back, we moved to Georgia.
Suddenly, I was living with someone I barely knew before I married him. I thought I knew him. He thought he knew me. We were wrong. We went through fertility testing and tried for years to conceive a child but never could, so when I called him four months after our divorce to tell him I was pregnant by the guy I had been dating, I wasn’t quite sure how he would take it.
He congratulated me. He sent me flowers for Mother’s Day that year. He sent me “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Motherhood” later that year. It was things like this that made me wonder if we should’ve stuck it out and seen if counseling would’ve helped our paths run a little more parallel. After all, he is a wonderful person, right?
But that was not the path my Life was meant to take. I see that now.
When you are truly in love with someone, it doesn’t have to be hard. The day-to-day things you do might not always work out how you want, and you might not always get your way. You will undoubtedly disagree about insignificant things that suddenly seem so Earth-rattlingly important when someone argues with you about them. That’s just human nature.
But when you love the person you are with and they love you in return, those little moments of not seeing eye to eye don’t really matter. You talk it out. You agree or maybe you don’t. But you keep on loving and living and being together. Eventually, you either laugh it off or agree to disagree.
At this stage in my Life, I finally get it. Sharing my heart with Randall isn’t hard. It’s natural. It’s not difficult and full of struggles. It’s what it should be. God has surely blessed the broken road that led me to his heart. As the popular song says,
“I think about the years I spent, just passing through. I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you, but you just smile and take my hand. You’ve been there. You understand. It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true. Every long lost dream led me to where you are. Others who broke my heart, they were like Northern stars pointing me on my way into your loving arms. This much I know is true – that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.”
If it’s love, you don’t have to wonder if it’s right. It is, and you know. My husband and our two daughters have taught me what it means to truly be in love. They are the destination my path was winding toward, and all those mistakes I made along the way helped me appreciate them in my Life even more.
I don’t remember when Randall first told me he loved me, and that’s okay. The most important part is that we love each other with that endless, forever-and-ever-amen kind of love.
If it’s love, it isn’t difficult.
You aren’t perfect.
Your partner isn’t either.
Love. Don’t hate.
Share a mature conversation rather than snippets of sarcasm and complaints littered throughout the day.
Let your wants and wishes be known instead of assuming you are awesome enough to convey them telepathically. You’re not, and your partner is not a mind reader.
Chill out. Learn from the past. Share your love and don’t hide from feelings behind games and immaturity. And always, through it all, remember: You are blessed and loved.
Now, go be thankful, and the rest will fall into place.