When I was a teenager, my mom and I used to have “girl’s night” which consisted of sitting in her queen size bed, watching a movie and eating through an entire bag of Dove chocolates. Obviously our movies of choice were sappy love stories or tearjerkers, and among them were “Steel Magnolias” and “Gone With the Wind.” One movie in particular, though, absolutely tore my heart out, and I cried like I had tragically lost someone dear to me.
The movie, titled “Love Story” starring Ali MacGraw (Jennifer) and Ryan O’Neal (Oliver), is about how two people from completely different backgrounds fall in love, and after much resentment and bitter arguments between the lovers and their parents, they marry. They struggle financially for quite some time, but their hard work and determination eventually pays off, so they decide they want to start a family. After many ill attempts of becoming pregnant they go to a doctor only to find out that Jenny is gravely ill. (Obviously) she ends up dying and Oliver is devastated, but the movie ends with Oliver repeating a quote to his father (who had written him off for marrying the poor girl who couldn’t afford Harvard) that Jenny had said to him during an argument, which was, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Although I’ve always loved this movie, it’s only recently come back into my thoughts. See, my husband of only 17 months and I have really struggled. We’ve struggled financially. We’ve struggled emotionally. We’ve struggled with responsibilities and priorities. We’ve struggled with the amount of love we’d show one another. We’ve struggled with respect and trust. We’ve struggled with parenting and being on the same page. We’ve struggled with communication. We’ve struggled with family drama. We’ve struggled on nearly every topic that it’s been exhausting, and so much so, we’ve both said “to hell with this, I’m out” on more than one occasion. Throughout the young tenure of our marriage, I’d say our relationship has been similar to the movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” more so than it has been one of Nicholas Sparks’ novels.
If love means never having to say you’re sorry, does that mean that neither of the couple ever does anything wrong to hurt the other? Or does that mean that if you love someone you would never do anything that could hurt the other person? Unfortunately neither is accurate because we do hurt our spouse from time to time, even if it’s unintentional. I believe that pain is sometimes part of a marriage. I mean, we’re not perfect and we do make mistakes. However, the beautiful thing is that a strong marriage can overcome any obstacle, and God tells me that I should seek the forgiveness of my spouse if I hurt or defy him.
I’ve never hurt my husband, nor has he hurt me, by infidelity, but we have hurt each other through the use of our words and more often than not, words hurt far worse than anything else. My husband and I could have given up, and many times that would have been far easier than first, recognizing our problems and two, fixing them. Based on the ridiculous percentage of divorces nowadays, it’s obvious that many couples choose to take the easy way out, and to be honest, I can understand why. It takes a lot of effort to choose to fix marital problems. And it takes more effort to actually fix them. The basis of me and my husband’s issues lied upon the shaky foundation we tried to develop a life on, and because the foundation is the most important aspect of a marriage, trying to build on something that was unstable from the beginning is a sure failure. Unless you choose to repair it.
I packed my stuff on three different occasions. We even went as far as filling out divorce papers but when it came to actually signing them neither of us could bring ourselves to do it. The last time we had an incident where both of us wanted to be done with one another, we simply decided to leave each other alone for a few days and give ourselves time to think. I’m not sure who came to who first, or if it was just ignored, but one night laying in bed we both just rolled over and wrapped our arms around each other and fell asleep. That next afternoon, we said sorry to one another, and asked each other for forgiveness. We started talking about how much being in each other’s lives is far better than how it’d be if we were apart and for the first time in months, we communicated. We talked for quite some time and yes, tears were shed. We talked about how we met, our first impressions of one another, the things we had overcome and the things we had planned for our future as husband and wife. Suddenly it was clear that our marriage was worth fighting for, and at that moment we understood what love was.
Love is not a feeling, it’s an action. You choose to love someone, and whereas the feeling of love is an emotional (or sexual) thing, to actually love a person is defined by the actions we choose to display towards the other. My husband and I recognized that we hadn’t been loving each other for some time, like “love” had actually become a habit or something we just “had to do,” and once we recognized where our fault lied, we looked at our wedding rings (you know, those circle things we wear on our left hand that signifies you vowed to love and to cherish that one person for the rest of your life) and felt guilty that we hadn’t been taking care of them and what they stood for as much as they had still remained true to their meaning and to us.
For the first time, in all honesty, we were excited to begin our new life. We discussed our expectations of one another, how we wanted our family to become strong, how we wanted to make each other happy and how for the first time we wanted to place the needs of each other ahead of our own. Those, my friend, are exhilarating feelings! For the first time we understood what our wedding rings symbolize, and for the first time he understood that a marriage is like a circle, something I had been trying to get through his thick skull for two years: “A marriage is a circle, babe. As your wife, it’s my duty to always see to it that your needs are always met, far ahead of my own. As my husband, it’s your duty to always see to it that my needs are always met, far ahead of your own. What does this mean? It means that neither of us are ever with out because our needs are always met by the other. It’s all reciprocated. It’s all a big circle, just like our wedding rings.”
I cannot tell you how wonderful of a feeling it is knowing my husband and I didn’t give up. I see so many of my friends who are struggling in their marriages, who do their own things, who barely have a friendship anymore, and it hurts my heart knowing it could all be fixed if both just recognize it’s possible to love again. Love is based on actions and 100 percent needs to be given by both people for it to work. Marriage is such an awesome opportunity. And not giving up is even more awesome, and after two years…I found what it is to really love my husband, and he’s found what it is to really love me, his wife. For the first time, seriously, I find my husband sexy! Lol I mean, when you’re so disconnected from your spouse, you miss out on so many things! For the first time, I find my husband a hard-working, dedicated father and husband. I find my husband funny and cute, and he finds my hand in his while walking into the grocery store. My husband is amazing, and not that he hasn’t always been…it’s just that I’ve recognized it for the first time.