Now that you are old enough to realize that marrying daddy is not a real possibility for you, and you are starting to ask questions. “When did you know you loved daddy?” “How did he ask you to marry you?” “Did you have boyfriends?”
I want you to know about true love.
The romantic kind, the kind between a man and a woman. The kind that I wish for you someday.
I will answer all of those questions and more, and someday I will have you read this and hope that you take it to heart.
Aristotle once wrote, “It is the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most human beings live only for the gratification of it.”
This could very well be the most significant problem with marriages today. We desire oneness, a soul mate to read our minds, meet our needs, and make us breakfast in bed. But there is a threat that lurks beneath the pursuit of perpetual romance. Of perpetual desire.
It doesn’t exist with one person. The allure of romance is partly the mystery and there is less mystery after you’ve walked hand in hand through years of trials, when they know the pitch your voice adopts when you’re angry, they’ve seen you with stomach flu rushing to grasp the porcelain rim while you retch and have traced the fiery red lines snaking across your pregnant belly swell as it continues to stretch. Have soothed your anguished cries as you leave the hospital with the car seat empty and your womb full of lifelessness. The mystery fades as the relationship deepens.
Don’t get me wrong, sweet girl. You can still have passion and tenderness and intimacy, and I pray you do, but the rush of the first kiss isn’t the same with the second. Because you’ll know the contours of his face, and the feel of his lips against yours and the smell of his skin and it will be familiar and right but never new.
And we make a trade. Dropping the masks, being naked and unashamed.
We take the vow and in those very words we promise ourselves in less than ideal situations, when we are not fully at our best.
He promises tenderness and love when she writhes in pain and the doctors search for an answer. When she is too weak to make herself pretty, her body ballooning like a dough set too long to rise. When she no longer feels sexy or desirable, he pulls her close and tells her she is all that and more. In sickness and in health.
She promises faithfulness when he comes home to tell her the job is gone. Contracts fell through. There is no money and the hall table is littered with shut off notices in the dead cold of winter. She stands by him when they pack their things, and move boxes and say goodbye to their home. For richer or for poorer.
They guard their hearts. They promise to never have that first kiss or heady flirtatious desire that comes from being seen as wholly perfect by an infatuated admirer.
They remember that to be without flaws or layers of years or knowing is the lesser.
And that to be seen as they are and loved, not just because of it, but in spite of it, is the glory and the grace of marriage. They promise to forsake all others.
And when they do these things, honey girl, they have a foundation to build on.
Join me next week for Letters to my Daughter Part two: The Construction of a Marriage