Everyone thinks the excitement that accompanies the start of a relationship is the best.
Granted, it IS intoxicating. Everything is new and mysterious. You’re wondering if the other person just likes you or actually “likes you” likes you. A simple touch ignites an inferno of passion. There’s so much to talk about as you’re constantly learning new things about one another. That way he chews, and that way she steals your jacket when she’s cold, is still cute and endearing.
There’s no doubt about it: The beginning of a new relationship is pretty great.
But then again, in the beginning, you’re just two separate entities. Like bread and cheese. Cheese is good. Bread is good. Put them together and you have a cheese sandwich. Also good.
But Johnny Cash was right when he sang that love is a burning thing. It doesn’t get really good until you’ve gone through some fires together. That’s when you really get to know what you’re made of, as you melt together and you become one. That melty, gooey goodness is where the magic’s at. And have you ever tried to separate a grilled cheese sandwich? It’s not easy. Which is how it should be.
Combined, my parents and Kim’s parents have been married for over 90 years. They have struggled and endured many, many fires. But through it all, they’ve stuck together. In today’s day and age, that’s no small feat. Is there a secret? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s luck involved, but I know that it’s not all luck. I know communication is really important. And mutual respect. And a willingness to give more than you get.
But I think the real secret is that it comes down to a choice to stick together, no matter what. Infatuation is a feeling, but love? Love is a choice. When my parents exchanged vows on their wedding day, promising they’d be there for each other no matter what, in sickness and in health, through the good time and the fires…they meant it. For reals.
And when I married Kim, that’s how I looked at it too. Death will have to break us apart, it’s the only option. We have not left an escape hatch for ourselves. The ships back to a world where we go our separate ways are smoldering sticks of charcoal. When disagreements emerge, a fight erupts, and feelings are hurt, Plan A is to work it out.
There is no Plan B.
When you don’t burn the ships, there’s a very high probability that someday, you’ll use them to sail away from one another.
Of course, you can throw all of this out the window if both people aren’t on board. If one flakes out or doesn’t live up to the promise, it all falls apart. And that is nothing short of heart-breaking.
I write this to give hope to the newlyweds, to the people thinking about giving this love thing another go, and to those who are in the middle of one of those scary fires right now.
As James Blunt sang, “Everybody wants a flame, they don’t want to get burnt.”
It’s true: once you get past the lovey-dovey stage of a relationship, and experience the fires that flare up when things get real, you will come out a little charred.
But that char – the battle scars from a life lived together – add a richness, depth, and magic that a regular old cheese sandwich can only dream about.