I was going to write something profound about love and commitment, about sharing and intimacy, about the joy that is being with your soulmate not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year. Then Jeff walked through the room, exclaiming “The cat puked again!”
Romance ain’t what it was once, eh?
Actually, I don’t think romance was EVER what we think it once was, even when we and our love were young. For Jeff & I personally, pre-marriage romance came in 16 days over 5 years with endless letters and occasional, very expensive (this was back in the days of telephone regulation), long-distance phone calls. Post marriage romance is a little more complicated, starting with a blissful first year of being married.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t completely blissful. For one thing, I discovered this man I hardly knew squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle. In the middle! And when he walks through or into a room, he has to turn on the overhead light, and then leaves it on, even when he’s done. I hate overhead lights. Hate them. Hasn’t stopped him from turning on and leaving on every overhead light in our house(s) for years and years and years… wait, wasn’t this about bliss?
Yeah, backing up a bit, I did discover some terrific things in that first year. Jeff can fix anything! And even the stuff he can’t fix, he tries to. It’s so cute, and useful. And he makes great waffles. And he taught me how to drive a standard shift without wanting to leave me on the side of the road or divorce me. And he smells good first thing in the morning. These are all blissful things to learn or share in the first year of marriage. And in year two, he went away for 13 months.
Really. In 13 months, he was home for 28 days. We did see each other a little more than that. We finally had a delayed honeymoon (Rome, Naples, Munich & Venice… sounds like we were indulging in an Axis travelogue, doesn’t it?) and a family emergency brought him home for a few more days, but still… only 28 days in your own bed, with your own wife, in 13 months. That’s a long time.
I don’t remember much of year 3, other than the motorcycle he didn’t keep, and then we moved, again. And again. And again. Which means making new friends while trying to keep old ones, which means finding new places to live, which means finding new jobs (for me – his was always there, that’s why we moved), which means starting from scratch. And that’s also hard, and less than blissful.
We don’t have children of our own, although we seem to have collected a lot of kids along the way whom we have loved and cherished as if they were ours. One hears & reads a lot of stuff about kids and how they may or may not keep couples close, and I just don’t know. Jeff & I definitely have different approaches to child rearing, and I suspect that there would have been many, many bliss-less moments in
heated arguments lively debates about which tactic was the better one. However, being a host parent or a house parent, or even a doting aunt & uncle, only gives one so much perspective. The best I can say is that for us, not having children as we stroll, or stumble, through middle-age, means we are much more reliant on ourselves, and to a lesser extent on our friends (not to mention the grey cat), for the bliss we still seek.
So as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, writing on our computers, sorting through receipts for the visit to the tax preparer, listening to the melting snow fill the cistern, having the grey cat keep us company as we enjoy a little Strauss on the radio, we would certainly still welcome bliss. But we cherish what we have, which is contented companionability, the gift of laughter, and half-price chocolates tomorrow.