Wuv, Twu Wuv...

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. When I was in California, I used to teach with a teacher that used what he would call "PB Therapy" on his kids. Sometimes, The Princess Bride is just what makes sense. If you haven't seen it, it really is a great (and kind of corny) movie. The farmer's daughter falls in love with the farm boy (helper) but they can't be together. His response, "As you wish" to her every demand both infuriates her and draws her to him. He leaves to go onto a pirate ship with the Dread Pirate Roberts and eventually they find their way together again. This, of course, is not before she is almost married off to the King who has higher aspirations of killing her than loving her. There is something about this movie that really speaks to me. Is there true love? Do we have soul mates? Can we have more than one?

We have a friend who has recently met and become engaged to a woman from another country. She is sweet and he is head over heels. Neither one of them are young which I think plays into their love. We were talking tonight about the difference between falling in love when you are young compared to when you fall in love when you are older. Many times, young love is about immediacy. You have the butterflies, you are on a continuous honeymoon. As you get older, you either grow and change together or you don't. This can be very difficult, especially if there are children involved. Do you stay together for the children or do you take care of yourself? This is a question that haunts many. Then there are those that meet young, but their life is about growing up together. One of my best girlfriends met her husband when she was 8. She married him very young and they have a beautiful and wonderful relationship. One that we can all aspire to.

When you meet and marry your spouse when you are older, I think that things are different. Unlike when you are young, you are looking for someone to share the twilight years with. I am not saying when you are young, you don't want to grow old together, but let's face it, 60 seems a lot farther away when you are 20 than when you are 40. I remember a time when my husband and I were not particularly happy together (in our 10th year of marriage) and he told me if I was unhappy why didn't I leave. I told him that there were two reasons, one was that I loved him, and secondly, when I envisioned my life when I was old, he was there. There is something about having someone there that you can trust, that you know will take care of you.

I am all for romantic and mushy love. Let's face it, we all want to feel the butterflies in our stomachs, but even more than that we want security and love. We want to know that when the hard times come, that other person is not going to bail, when we need that rock, they will be there. I look at my husband and I and realize that we have done it all during our time together; we have gone through his divorce, we went through a child custody case, we had some challenging teen-age years with our kids and we had a child with complex medical needs. If there was a time for either one of us to bail, just choose one of those times. For some relationships, it would only take one of these to make it fail, but somehow, we have survived them all. I am not saying that there hasn't been rough times, there were even times when I thought that we might not make it, but ultimately, we made a commitment to each other and to our children and we have made it work.

So, back to the idea of a soul mate. Do they exist? I believe that soul mates do exist, but I also believe what our soul desires changes over time. My 20 year old soul was seeking a man who would give me a sense of family, a man to have fun with. I found that man in my first husband. He was close to his mother, something I had never really had, and we laughed a lot. We were silly, we wrestled, but we also fought and struggled. I was in love with him but even more I was in love with the idea of having a life long love. I don't want to take away from the life we had together because it was a good one, but it was not a love for the ages, a love where we could grow old together. By the time I met my husband now, I had experienced a true searing love from my second love. I had been cherished, but also hurt. I had walked away from my second love for a variety of reasons, but the main reason was myself. I needed time to heal and I hadn't given it to myself. When I met my husband, it was a comfortable love. I felt cared for and cherished. From the beginning he showed me that he cared. In practical ways, like replacing the battery in my car, to impractical ways, like buying me a beautiful necklace for our first Christmas together. I knew, very shortly, that this man was a keeper, and I haven't regretted it. I can't imagine many other men that I have known and been with during my life that would have stuck things out when the cutest boy was born. It was a rough time. We spent many months of those first three years apart, dealing with the daily stress of a child that chronically ill. If nothing else, those times were the times that our love truly spoke to me.

Love, true love, is out there. Sometimes you have to look for it, but I also feel you need to work for it. Love is like a garden that continually needs to be cared for. If you let the garden get full of weeds, the poison will choke out your crops, but if you work together and keep the garden clean, beautiful things can grow there. True love makes it that you want to work on the garden and keep it beautiful, because even in the times when the crops aren't growing, or you have a bad winter, the love that you've built together will keep the vision and the memory of the beautiful garden that you have together.


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