Man, this is hard to admit.
But it’s oh so true.
I want to remain shiny and new.
In love, at least.
New love–the kind where the other person’s heart skips a beat when they see you. And yours when you see them.
Who doesn’t love that feeling, right?
It’s not that I don’t love the silver anniversary. Haven’t made it to one but my parents did. Some of my friends are well on their way to a 25th year of marriage.
Lasting love is great. But flawed. Oh so flawed. Because all of us are. Only human after all.
He snaps at her when she tries to give him driving directions because after 10 years, it drives him crazy.
She looks wistfully at the man who gazed at her with admiring, fresh eyes throughout the cocktail hour before dinner. Her own husband has not seen her in that way for years.
Silver anniversaries come with history. Which is the beauty of lasting love.
And that history is the Achilles’ heel of the same love.
How does familiarity not eventually breed, if not contempt, at least complacency?
I see handsome, kind men dismissed by their wives at dinner parties. Attractive, vivacious women go flat and quiet after one withering look or sharp word from their husband.
I don’t want to sound pessimistic, folks. I love love. I root for the couples who go the distance.
But I wish for the newness, the over-the-moon bit to last—and I know I’m not alone.
A colleague once told me, when I asked him how it was to be married for a long time: “There’s a reason they make you vow at the altar. If it was all sunshine and roses, it wouldn’t take a vow to keep you together. There are times you want to leave. But you keep your promise. And other times, you realize why you stayed.”
At the time, newly engaged, I thought he was being darkly pessimistic. Now, I realize, he was probably just realistic.
Being shiny and new feels great. Seeing someone else as shiny and new feels great.
The bit no philosopher or marriage counselor in history has figured out is how to keep the shiny and new appeal going.
It is the allure of Newman and Woodward, Bogie and Bacall. They withstood the test of time.
I am sure it is not because they found a way to keep those shiny and new glasses on.
Instead, they found a way to morph their love, to grow it into something different. Something that has a beauty that goes beyond shiny and new. And they had acquired the wisdom necessary to choose each other again and again. Even when other shiny, new options were temptingly placed in front of them.
They saw the beauty in the achingly familiar instead of going blind to it.
I wish it weren’t so hard to do. As I look around, I see most couples struggle with it. Even the ones we all admire. The ones who will hold hands at 80.
I have been in love and lost it. I think that helps. Helps you to realize how precious it is when you find someone who cares that much. Who, in the beginning, makes your heart race. And whose faults, which are painfully human, you can accept instead of sugarcoat. Love instead of judge.
Shiny and new is just that. Shiny and new. It is a rush, a high, but it lacks wisdom. Staying power. And stamina.
A well-worn patina trumps shine for those wise enough to judge true value.