It never ceases to amaze me … this thing called love. Because. I’ve known of and know men who … cheat on their wives, remain faithful despite long separations, shoulder on through widowhood for more than 20 years, become silent partners to their domineering wives, are proud of their trophy wives, etc …
A friend, for example, yesterday recounted to me a man who told her while she was attending to his wife (her patient), “You’re very fortunate, you don’t live with your husband . It is very difficult to come home to a wife everyday!” The guy’s wife, btw, was pregnant with his ninth child when he uttered those words.
It being our 20th wedding anniversary two days ago, I am sharing here a post that was originally published on Sept. 29, 2014, in another blog. Please pardon my long-winded reflections on the nature of love …
When dusk fell, he quietly gathered up our two youngest children (why did they have to dirty themselves more than usual when there was no water?) and cleaned them up using only a tabo of water. I came upon the children being wiped clean in our upstairs veranda and quickly turned to our bedroom so nobody could see me choking up. We don’t have a maid so scenes like that – they overwhelm and make me cry. To me, that act of love was better than an SMS saying “I love you.” Without an exchange of words, what my heart heard was “This service is not a sacrifice on my part because it was done to make life easier for you.” It also spoke volumes about the kind of man I married: quiet, unassuming, and a servant-leader willing to do dirty jobs. Then again, it’s not surprising because the hubby is a farmer’s son. And proud of it, too.
This month, Christianity Today published an article entitled “I Didn’t Marry My Best Friend.” I could write an article, too, entitled “I Didn’t Marry My Husband” or something like “I Didn’t Marry the Man I Thought I Was Going to Marry.” Because. I didn’t really know the man I got hitched to. How could I? We didn’t grow up together, we were never playmates or classmates (we were schoolmates) and besides, how does one truly get to know another person whose interests are a far cry from yours except by the grace of God? Believe me, I can so relate to the poem below …
She reads the paper while he turns on the TV,
she likes the mountains, he craves the sea.
He’d rather drive, she’ll take the plane.
He waits for sunshine, she walks in the rain.
He gulps down cold drinks, She sips at hot.
he asks, “Why go?” She asks, “Why not?”
In just about everything they disagree
but they love one another and they both love me.
Eve Merriam, Two People
Next is his inability to be attracted only by physical beauty (or so I’d like to believe, ha, ha). I can’t count the number of times when I’ve expressed admiration for a woman’s beauty only to be told something negative about her character that he noticed but which I had not seen. Besides, as one’s looks go by the wayside, one cannot help but feel greater appreciation for a man who does not see you as a trophy wife but has valued you as an intellectual equal since the start of your marriage.
Him: Ah … I don’t think so.
Me: Why not? We didn’t have any money when we got married.
This time we could have a grand party.
Him: That’s just it.
Me: What is it?
Him: Honestly? Well, after nearly 20 years, I don’t think I can
declare “I do” again in front of so many people.
Me: You’re joking, right?
So maybe I can’t get the guy to walk down the aisle again. Heck, I can’t even get him to hold my hand while taking a moonlit stroll in a scene straight out from the movies: waves lapping, yachts berthed by the quay, lights twinkling across the river, etc …. Sigh… Moonlit strolls at forty-five are so, so vastly different from nighttime walks at twenty-five.
Btw, I’m older than forty-five, it just sounds better than forty-six or forty-seven or forty-eight. Whereas my hand would have been grasped tightly twenty years ago, today I know my place. Had I tripped (little chance of that really since he convinced me to abandon my heels in favor of flats but still, it was dark), a dent to my pride would have been nothing compared to the dent to his pocket that a damaged Nikon D7100 camera would give. Reality blues, er, bites ….
The reality is altogether different after 20 years. Whereas hardly a disagreement characterized our pre-marriage period, today – well, Depeche Mode got it right when it penned
Though my views may be wrong
They may even be perverted
She will hear me out
And won’t easily be converted
To my way of thinking
In fact she’ll often disagree …
In fact, when I think about how I steered clear of sports and other athletic activities throughout my school life, I can’t believe how their lyrics sum up what I feel:
All the things I detest
I will almost like
So yes, the honeymoon phase of our marriage has been over for quite some time. I suspect it’s been over far longer for him than for me, though, he being the breadwinner and all. Recently, he threw a book off the bed and asked in an irritated voice “Can I have a rest day tomorrow, please?” Good thing his glance did not fall on the book’s title: Confessions of a Slacker Wife by Muffy Mead-Ferro.
Meanwhile, the children are growing up and our hairs are turning gray. By the grace of God, however, and despite having dissimilarity of pursuits, our life together continues to be a
romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality. This good-fellowship — camaraderie — usually occurring through similarity of pursuits, is unfortunately seldom superadded to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labours, but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstance permits its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death—that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam. Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd