Today I found an old photo of my husband and I when I was just 20-years-old. I was younger than our first child is now. I barely remember what or how I thought at that time and I am not sure that I remember how it was for us to be together accurately. I do remember how much I wanted to be with my husband and how I would plan my time around his schedule.
Fast forward thirty years. How could we have already gotten this old? We both remembered how far away right now seemed when we were in our 20s and even our 30s. I remember feeling like we were young for a long time. And even now, I’m not sure when we stopped being young exactly. Just a lot of days, my face looks different in the mirror than it does in my idea of how I look.
We have been looking at each other for so long that I wonder if we ever catch the changes as they are happening. But then suddenly you see someone you have looked at since forever in a whole new way. You don’t see your thoughts of them, just them as they are. This is the mysterious and fun part of staying with someone: this witnessing of how you learn to relate over time.
I am not sure what year the better started happening, but in my experience we had to wait out some of the worse… It took us a long time to learn how to say how we felt and maybe longer to know what we felt enough to articulate it. We kept stubbornly looking for what there was to stay for- every day we focused there instead of why not to stay.
It is easy to take the comfort and security of long term relationships for granted. I know I sometimes forget how lucky I am and slip into mindless annoyances. When I come to, I wonder what will have to happen for us to just choose to be kind, to let the best part of ourselves decide who someone we love is and to offer the benefit of the doubt to those we profess to trust.
I love this quote by Robert Sexton, “In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced. ” It is maybe the sweetest part of life, to love someone longer than you can remember.