(feel free to play the Bee Gees song below in the background while reading)
Happy Anniversary, my love. Just like that, 8 years passed. Eight years since we said our vows to love, respect, and support each other through our adventures in life as husband and wife. While we didn’t know exactly what would happen, you were game enough to face that unknown with me. I think we’ve made it this far relatively unscathed, with lots of laughter, through the challenges of adjusting to married life, children, home ownership, and careers.
The other day we discussed this article How American Parenting is Killing the American Marriage, which of course led us to reflecting on our own marriage now after having children. And how to answer the thorny question of whether we love each other more than our kids. I admit my first knee-jerk reaction was, “How can you even ask me that question?”, it’s an impossible question like Sophie’s Choice.
But now I’ve had a few days to think about it, I have a better handle on answering this question. It’s not a volumetric measurement with a simple empirical answer where Love for X > Love for Y. Instead of math, poetry is a better answer.
But you and I, my love, are together,
together from our clothes to our bones,
together in Autumn, in our water, at our hips,
until it’s just you together, me together.
~Sonnet II, Pablo Neruda
That snippet of the poem that you chose to put on our wedding invitation is so fitting. It conveys that depth of emotion of feeling I have, but the a sense of how tenuous I am when attempting to describe it leads to a strange choice of words (in our water, at our hips?). What I do know is that my love for you is deeper, richer, and complex, signified by the all the varied roles you play in my life: best friend, soulmate, romantic lover, parenting teammate, counsellor, chef, spider/insect killer, teacher, and more. We are equal partners in our relationship, but because we are two independent people I know that we will always need to work together keep our relationship strong. I savour our love because it is not guaranteed.
While my heart is also filled with my love for our children, it is frankly a much simpler and less nuanced love at this point in time. Yes, they amaze me and fill me with wonder and joy, and I couldn’t imagine life without them them. It boggles the mind to grasp that they really are creations that you and I made, and I’m proud to see the results of our parenting helping them turn into wonderful little human beings. Our love for them and them for us is unconditional…clear, simple. However, now that the girls are older and not so wholly dependent on us (like vampires for our time and energy), I’m looking forward to reinvesting more of our daily time and effort back into our husband and wife relationship.
So I’ll end by quoting another of Pablo Neruda’s sonnets, because his words are so eloquent. It would take me another 8 years to compose something as beautiful…but I’ll get working on it. 🙂
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
~Sonnet XVII, Pablo Neruda
Here’s to many more years together, my love.