Go ahead: ask me what’s surprised me the most from all my years of working with couples. Well, okay it’s lots of things, but right near the top of the list has got to be this:
Somehow, in spite of everything—hurts, neglect, disappointment, hard times—people manage to keep loving each other. It’s that love lasts, even strengthens and deepens. It’s as if, in spite of everything, people build a mountain of love, one shovelful at a time.
It’s like watching a tightrope walker, swaying, staggering, almost falling. It may seem like a rocky journey where all is almost lost, but an almost-fall is not a fall, and in the end there’s the marvel and joy of that wonderful journey on thin thread across empty space.
That’s love over time. Somehow all the better for the stumbles. The memories richer, more glowing for all the things you’ve been through together.
Realistically, this is going to be much easier if you don’t get involved with the wrong people in first place. And if you get out of relationships that are broken past the point of your endurance as fast as possible.
But having said that, I think that lasting love is what we really want deep down. A love we can see was tested, even worn through in places. And yet when the engines sputtered we didn’t bail out of the plane. We hung in there and fixed things as best we could, and rode out the things we couldn’t fix. What hurts we could heal, we healed. What we couldn’t heal, we forgave. What we couldn’t forgive, we learned to live with and refused to be poisoned by our unforgiveness.
We wanted a lifetime of love more than we wanted to win. More than we wanted to be right. More than we wanted justice or perfection.
And why? Because we understood that if at all possible this is how we want to live, how we want to be a person. Putting love first. Being reckless about nothing else maybe—except love. Understanding that no investment is more prudent than love. Hanging in there together as you walk precariously on the thin thread that separates you from the abyss, until you get to the end, together still, in spite of everything, in love.
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The cover image is from Marjorie Weiss's Cuban Portrait No. 12, 1996.