How do you know?

I have a calendar that the mother of one of my good friends gave me, and all of the quotes are about love. I’ve had it for more than two years now, and I look forward to reading the quote every day. I have no earthy idea why she gave it to me, but I’m grateful for it.

I’ve been away for a couple of days. When I do that, I always play catch up on the quotes. Out of the quotes I read to bring me up to today one quote stands out in my mind :”We like because. We love although.” I had to take a moment to reflect on the statement. I’m going to share those reflections with you.

Any time I have told someone I love them -and I’ll qualify this as romantic love vs. friendship love- I can’t remember not having a conversation about why I loved them. It was always around the first time I said it, and I think telling that other person was me hearing my reason’s out loud. The first time it came pouring out of my was probably my first verbal acknowledgment of a feeling that had lived inside me for days (at a minimum) before I’d said it out loud. When I think about the verbiage I used, I can’t say I used “I love you because”. Instead I said “I love *blah blah blah* about you”.

Even though I didn’t use because, I daresay that’s what I meant. When love is new, discovering the because is the best part.

And when love gets old (and I mean that in a “we’ve-settled-into-it-and-we-say-it-all-the-time” kind of way) we start seeing the although part. Maybe that person isn’t the best cook. Maybe his/her definition of clean doesn’t quite compare to your own personal definition of clean. Maybe he leaves the toilet seat up. Maybe she takes up the whole damn bed AND tosses and turns so much it’s like sleeping with a wild 5-year-old with adult strength. Maybe that same endearing quality gets on your last damn nerve, which is often the case.

Still, I don’t know that I fully agree with the quote. I might change the wording a bit: “We fall in love because. We stay in love although.”  Likely we don’t fall in love with different people for the same exact reasons. While people might have certain characteristics or qualities in common, I seriously doubt that we meet an exact replica of an ex and happily move forward. (You could stay with your ex for all of that).  I think it’s just human nature to want to distinguish a past love from a present love, and to be able to articulate why it IS different.

I’m a believer that love conquers all, but I can’t say that I believe that falling in love is the end of that war. In fact, it’s only the start of it. If falling in love was all we had to do, I think most people would be happily paired off right now. Moving away from the violent metaphors, love is certainly not a war (if it’s healthy) but it does take work.   The work that we have to do to sustain it speaks to the “although” part. Maybe you love him although he doesn’t manage his money well. Maybe you love her although she wants to do things her way all the time. Maybe you love him although he’s got a glib tongue and hits you with zingers at what you might call inopportune moments (even if the timing is good).

Certainly, love is a balancing act between the “becauses” and the “althoughs”. Sometimes it might seem that one outweighs the other, and that is when each individual in the relationship has to decide whether to fight for love or let it go.

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