It’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air! As a romance novelist, the joys of new love are my bread and butter. That first moment when their eyes meet, the first breathless, heart-pounding kiss, the first amazing sexual encounter. And let’s not forget the happily ever after ending.
If only! I hate to have to break it to you, but there’s no such thing as happily ever after. The chemicals in your brain go back to normal, and you lose that feeling of being a giddy teenager with a sugar rush. The new love feeling wears off, and you’re left with this person that you’re still getting to know, who is not the perfect mate you may have thought they were. They may still have all the endearing traits that you fell in love with, but they also have habits that get on your nerves, and vice versa. Sometime around this stage, you either walk away or buckle down for the long haul.
A new relationship is a new pair of red shoes with four-inch stiletto heels. They feel good walking around in the store, they make your legs look sexy as hell, but only time will tell if they’re going to hurt you.
An old relationship love is the pair of boots you’ve had for years. Low-heeled and slightly scuffed, they’re molded to your feet. You can wear them all day in comfort, and they are still a pair of hot boots.
This is enduring love. It is not worse than new love, nor is it better. It is just different. As a veteran of a twenty-five-year relationship, I feel I can make this comparison. After living together for twenty-two years, my (now) husband and I decided we would be better off financially if we were married. Not very romantic, I know. Sorry. We had a small wedding on the courthouse lawn, and at the end, the magistrate said “You can kiss your bride.” My new husband looked at me with slightly misty eyes, whispered, “I love you”, and kissed me. Boom! Red high heels again!
That’s the beauty of enduring love. The day to day grind may wear on the relationship, numbing you to the fact that you have this wonderful person in your life. It’s comfortable and sometimes taken for granted, fading into the back ground like the furniture. But in the midst of this, your eyes meet across the room, and suddenly the chemicals go into overdrive. The sparks fly between you, and its new love all over again. These moments are what make it all worthwhile.
It’s not perfect, and it’s not easy, but, to me, at least, it’s worth it. Enduring love requires commitment and stubbornness. There have been arguments, or down right fights, but afterward, there’s the joy of making up. There have been good times, and horrible times, but through it all, we both know that the other has our backs. We also know that with a look, a touch, the flames will spring back to life, and make it feel like new.
I know it’s not always this way. Some people are just not meant to be together. If you’re lucky, these relationships will die a quick, natural death. If you’re not lucky, well, that’s a whole different story, and not one for Valentine’s Day.
This is what happens after “The End” of the romance novel. I’m convinced that my characters will fight and love and ignore each other at some point in their lives. Daily life will wear on them, but the fire will still be there, banked but still alive, waiting to burst into flames. They will endure.
With luck, so will all of us.
Happy Valentine’s Day!