Eleven years ago I had one really perfect Valentine's Day with my future husband. 5 months later we were married and we've never worried about Valentine's Day since then. We've never worried about "romance" and we've also never for a moment not known with absolute certainty that our marriage will last until death do us part.
Over the last few years my husband and I have watched helplessly as the marriages of my brother and his sister (both of whom have one child) fell apart suddenly and ended in divorce. In one case we know why it happened. One of the spouses turned out to be a crazy, lying piece of excrement. In the other case, the divorce is so ridiculously amicable that I cannot fathom why the marriage had to end at all. It's heartbreaking to see how it is affecting the children caught in the middle. It is also heartbreaking to have to occasionally assure my oldest child, who can see what is going on and is unsettled by it to say the least, that divorce is something she never, ever, ever has to worry about in her family.
Some weeks ago when the subject of divorce entered a conversation with my mother, I had occasion to comment to her that divorce is something my children will never have to go through. My mother, who went through 2 divorces before finding happiness with her third husband, looked at me seriously and said, "I hope so." I was shocked by that response, though in hindsight I know I shouldn't have been. Mostly because the tone of her voice clearly said "that's a nice thought, dear, but you'd better be prepared for the possibility". She didn't really believe me, in other words. Divorce is too much a part of her reality (going through 2 herself, seeing other family members around her going through it and now helping my brother through his) for her to ever believe that it's not always lurking around the corner.
And it seems like that's true of most people. Most people seem to view relationships of any kind with the built in assumption that there's always the chance that the relationship will change and come to an end. And the world is filled with people trying to figure out how to keep that from happening. Married couple discuss their tips and tricks for having a healthy relationship. Gurus and experts and counselors tell people all sorts of things they need to do to keep a relationship going. But the assumption is always that there's a limit. There's some point where you've done all you can do and you just have to let a bad relationship die. That it's a natural part of the process.
Well, I've only been married for 10 years. And God knows we have our ups and downs like everyone else. But there is one huge difference between our relationship and every other relationship that I see around me. It's very simple and I truly believe that it is the one and only thing that will guarantee the life of a relationship.
We do not, under any circumstances, admit the possibility of separation or divorce. It is simply not conceivable in our view of marriage.
So we argue and disagree. We fight. (I once threw a hard cover book at my husband's head and gave him a concussion.) We're normal people who have tempers and don't always feel mushy and loving toward each other. But we always know in our hearts that none of that stuff matters. Because we are married and we are always going to be married and that is that. Ending the relationship in any way is simply not an option.
That's what love is. I'm the most fortunate person in the world to have it and to have had it from the beginning and to know without a shadow of a doubt that I will have it until death tears us apart.