Eden jumped and bounced next to me on the couch; the girl isn’t still, ever. We were all four of us lounging in the living room. Kasey had just gotten home from work and was sprawled along with lincoln logs and Isaac on the floor. Eden threw an arm on me and leaned over.
“I just love you so much, Mama. I just wish I could marry you. But you’re already married to Daddy.”
I smiled, loving the 5-year-old concept of love and marriage and hoping that it stays innocent like this for a very long time.
“Will you and Daddy still be married when you are old people?” she asked.
I could see the wheels spinning as she tried to find a way that she and I might get married sometime in the future.
“Yep,” I answered. “We’ll be married to each other for our whole lives. That’s what it means to be married to someone. I chose to live my life with Daddy for the rest of our lives.”
“And I chose Mama,” Kasey said.
“And I chose Mama,” Kasey said.
“But what happens if you don’t like each other anymore?”
Ahhh, yes. Good question. Kasey and I exchanged a look. There was a lot in the look. He looked like he was about to burst into laughing, which is actually a good thing. We’re okay as long as we can still laugh at ourselves.
Because, the truth is, we don’t always like each other. We are, by the antibiotic grace of God, currently recovering from a period where not liking each other had become a bit of an infection. I don’t know if fairy tale romances exist in real life, but I know that our story isn’t written that way. We have had seasons where we are the source of each others’ happiness, and seasons where we are the source of each others’ pain. We have fought and cried and screamed and hurt and regretted and wished things were different and despaired that they could be.
But I chose him, and he chose me. And we chose to live our lives together for as long as our lives last. And we choose it again every day.
And so, what happens if (when) we don’t like each other anymore?
“Well, we learn to start liking each other again,” I replied. “That’s what families do. You don’t always like each other, but you always stick together and you learn how to like each other again.”
There wasn’t a lot of forethought in my answer, but I like the idea that loving someone means learning to like them over and over again. Because it implies that even after being with someone for a very long time, there is still a chance that you don’t know everything about them. Choosing a stance as a learner means that new information is possible, new behavior, new patterns, new connections. It leaves space for growth and change and hope.
Being a learner requires sticking around when you want to run away. Being a learner requires giving enough grace to stop looking back and start looking forward. Being a learner requires having enough humility to have perceptions and beliefs changed.
How else can the decision of two teenagers to link their lives forever actually be honored? We are two learners, walking together. That is love.
“When you evoke curiosity and openness with a lack of judgment, you align yourself with beauty and delight and love – for their own sake. You become the benevolence of God in action.” --Geneen Roth