Teri Vance: Making sense of love on Valentine’s Day
This Valentine’s Day is different for me than any other. It’ll be the first one I spend married.
And it comes at a time I’ve already been thinking a lot about love and how it works. Really, what I’ve concluded is the one word isn’t sufficient for all the things love is.
Because love is that mysterious, magical thing that comes into your life and makes everything blurry in a good kind of way. It softens the edges of a world that can otherwise seem to harsh a lot of the time.
But it’s also the thing that endures when someone cleans the entire kitchen and the other one walks in and says, “Oh, I see you started the dishwasher, but left one glass still in the sink. That’s nice.” (I’m not admitting to saying those words Thursday night).
There are many kinds of love, and I was always quick to make that point when people felt sorry for me as a spinster. I never felt lacking for love, it’s everywhere and offered up so freely by family and friends.
Still, there’s something completely unique about being in a real partnership with one you love. In dating relationships, I always found myself in situations — or sought them out intentionally — where we could go days or even weeks without seeing each other.
So the time we spent together was usually an adventure, all fun, little conflict.
That’s hard to do in a marriage. Adventure takes on a new meaning when you’re trying to unclog the shower together.
Going your separate ways for a week isn’t practical. Instead, you’re left to fight through your problems.
I know every couple has their own style for settling conflict. My husband and I both only know one way: Directly.
Well, my tendency in the past has been to be direct or avoid it all together. Usually, I chose to avoid. Until one day I couldn’t avoid it any longer, and that’s the day it was over.
So now we fight it out.
And from the fight, I’ve learned a lot about love. At first, it was scary to tell my truth, to expose my weaknesses. If he sees the real me, surely he won’t love me anymore. But as we’ve worked through each of our conflicts, I’ve found our vulnerabilities have strengthened us.
Real love endures the struggles, which are so small in comparison to the millions of magical moments. Just watching him walk through the front door after work is often enough to make my heart physically swell (or maybe it just figuratively does. I don’t know a lot about anatomy).
There’s still so much more I have to learn and understand about love. But this Valentine’s Day, here’s what I know: It’s real. It’s transformative. It’s worth fighting for.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.