Love. That one word has started wars, toppled empires, ended lives and saved lives. It is the cornerstone of most religious doctrines. It has been the inspiration of writers throughout time, from poets to playwrights to novelists and songwriters.
It is what little girls dream of and many a woman has cursed at one time or another.
It can make and break us all, men or women.
We all want it, and yet all too often when we get it, many times we find ourselves forgetting why we wanted it in the first place.
When I was a young girl I made my Communion in the Catholic church and like all of my friends, my older sister Janie, my cousin Peggy, I got to wear a beautiful white dress and a veil. I was told I was Jesusí bride. While I was happy to finally make my Communion, I was just as excited to finally wear ďThe Veil.Ē I might have been Jesusí bride then, but I dreamed of another in my future when I would walk down the aisle to my groom. And from then on we would live happily ever after. It was what my girlfriends and I talked about over the years as we grew older.
Well, by my mid-twenties I found the man I would marry, and the wedding was everything I dreamed of all those years. Then reality set in and twenty years later my groom and I buckled under the pressures of the world. There was no other woman or other man ripping us apart. Just each other. After 20 years we had lost touch with love and one day we realized that the only bond we shared was our two kids and a bunch of memories.
What happened? I never thought I would get divorced. When we vowed ďuntil death do us partĒ we meant it. So when did the death of our love cause us to part?
It happens so subtly, itís hard to say. Was it the two battles with cancer? was it having two kids? was it moving so far away from our family and friends? was it job changes, money problems, or interfering in-laws?
Probably a little bit of all of that.
Regardless, we stopped loving one another enough to stay married. I canít just leave it as stopped loving one another, because Tom and I will always love one another. You canít go through all we did and not have some sort of feelings remain.
So, with Valentineís Day approaching, I want to share something with everyone that I learned when Tom and I were first married and were teaching Pre-Cana for the church. We learned it then, and now, as a reporter, Iíve heard the same wisdom told by many older couples living in our community, couples who are still head over heals in love more than 50 and 60 years later.
And it is something the new man in my life, David and I, work at every day. And we will never, ever stop.
The key to a successful union is very simple.
Thatís right, talk. Donít yell or argue to hurt one another. Speak and listen. Share, explore, express, confide. By communicating you will not ever keep secrets.
Tom and I knew this was the key to a successful marriage, but somewhere along the way we got too busy to listen to one another. We got too discontented to care enough to share. Maybe we were cut to the quick too many times and thought it didnít matter, our opinion was not worth anything anyway.
With more than 50 percent of all marriages ending in divorce these days, you would think the secret to staying together would be something more profound. Yes, there are other aspects of a healthy marriage, but the foundation must be set in rock solid communication.
To give up on love because it takes too much effort to communicate, to listen, seems like a cop out. When things get rough, that is when communicating is most important, and most difficult.
If you think you are heading towards rocky times, talk. If you find your teasing with one another is actually turning into subtle attacks, mocking or disrespect, stop and talk. If everything the person does is starting to annoy you, stop and talk. Chances are those are just signs that something more serious is bothering you.
Iíve learned that no matter which relationship I am dealing with, whether it is with Allie Rose or Anthony, or David, or my sisters or parents, listening is a sign of love. And when you talk and share, that too is a sign of love. Itís a sign of honoring the person you are loving. Even when things are not rosy.
Valentineís Day is not just about giving gifts or going out to dinner. Itís about communicating your love for someone.
Donít just limit that communication to one day, whether it is Valentineís Day or your wedding day, or engagement, or those sweet months before the wedding, or that first year after the wedding, or twenty years later. If you love someone, tell them.
If you are angry, or sad or concerned ... tell them.
Donít hold things within; that just leads to resentment.
Falling in love is easy. Falling out of love can be just as easy.
Keeping balanced in that love, nurturing that love, honoring that love; this takes effort, more effort than buying a card, or candy or flowers. It takes more effort than planning a wedding with all the trimmings or even the following honeymoon, and even more effort than filing separation or divorce papers.
When you say ďI love you,Ē mean it.
And when your lover says, ďI love you,Ē listen.
And remember, life is for living, and loving.
So live it. And love it.