I venture to say that any marriage counselor is likely to agree that no marriage is without some intermittent discord. Differences of opinion and inclination arise naturally from the interaction of unique personalities over time. Though I am not an anthropologist, I do not think it is controversial to claim that it has been that way since the beginning of time, or at least since the time that homo sapiens began to congregate and give thought to mating. Love is not the stuff of myths. It is the stuff of life.
Thus if ever I were invited to give a Ted Talk about love, I would refuse to take the lectern and preach a sermon about idylls of romance on a scenic route of amorous enchantment. It would be dishonest. It would be unfair to the long war of endurance in which one fights to capture and preserve the first sparks of love that erupt in the initial rendezvous of an inchoate affair. When those first sparks ignite, one is blinded by the fever of vibrant curiosities and boundless imagination. One cannot foresee how the defects of personality, the vices of prejudice, the cracks in naïve expectations, and all the jaded satiety that succeeds concupiscence will pose tests of the viability of those first ardent passions.
One cannot foresee how love and romance will evolve when one has not yet felt the contempt that breeds in the realm of familiarity, not yet witnessed the inevitable feuds that arise in the cocoon of a lasting relationship, not yet walked the long road to discovery of how love becomes an Oz that lacks glitter but sits like an edifice more solid than oak or granite. The mature city of love is not one in which two people rule with the superficial décor of royalty, or consume each other’s hearts with the aching madness of star-crossed paramours, but one in which they have taken an oath of loyalty as mature citizens who share a common abode, embrace similar values, overlap in interests, and abide by complementary routines. They are conversant with every little nuance of personality. They are attuned to every little idiosyncrasy of habit. They persevere in mutual trust. They are in agreement about laws and mores. They tolerate quirks and kinks. And yet they are still juiced with an insatiable appetite for conjugal consummation and tender displays of mutual affection.
To arrive at the mature city of love is to arrive at a place where love is real because it is not an enchantment but rather a breadth and depth of understanding between two people who can no longer be without each other; where a decree makes known how essential they have become to each other; where mutual dependence is upheld by mutual regard for values shared; and where partnership is a defense against the sorties that life will throw at them. They are two people joined in love, appreciating their differences, embracing their similarities, striving to grow and not merely to be persevere, patiently forging a bond to last a lifetime.
You know you have met the love of your life when you know you cannot stand without them, even though there are times you can’t stand them; when you want to be patient with them even when they provoke your impatience; when love feels like a trial that never ends, but then you are reminded of its tremendous journey with its constant milestones, the most significant of which is when you contemplate in pensive repose how delicate, and remarkable, it is to have met the person you are destined to be with, not because they are perfect, but because their imperfections dovetail perfectly with your own.
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