Safety and Sparks

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In a couple of weeks, we celebrate.

One year.

I really didn’t think I would ever marry again. It wasn’t from some romantic notion that my first marriage of twenty-five years was some paragon. No, it was more that I was damaged goods from the ending of that marriage, and the ending of a long relationship after.

And I was comfortable as an old bachelor. I’m pretty adaptable and I had crafted a simple quiet life. A few good friends. A peaceful place to live. Time and conversation with my kids. Good work that paid the bills. A deep spiritual life. A cat. I don’t get bored or lonely, even when I am still or alone. It’s just not my nature. I was fine.

I met her over coffee on a summer’s day, near the fourth of July. We talked. We walked. And as the cliche goes, sparks flew.

I am suspicious of sparks. I will tell you that. For an even-tempered soul like me, a person slow to process feelings, slow to think them through, sparks feel dangerous. I have not served myself well when I gravitated towards sparks. I have not made good choices.

It was a rough courtship. There were complications. There were struggles. Fits and jumps and obstacles. It would have been easier to just let it all go and go back to my simple, quiet life. But something in me couldn’t. Wouldn’t.

At different times in the three or four years before the wedding, different things kept me there. But mostly, it was her.

Don’t cue the violins quite yet. I’m far from perfect. And she would give you a litany of ways she is not perfect. We came into this damaged. And marriage is not some magical potion that makes everything imperfect perfect. Cinderella’s fairy godmother isn’t at work here. I think she retired after the movie came out to sit on her casting couch eating bonbons, her work done, her fame complete.

No, this is a grownup love. A mix of fire and sense. Of grace and quiet conversations on the front porch. There is passion. There is peace. There are things to work out. The sparks, it seems, told the truth this time, and they stuck around.

It’s a grownup love. We both say that all the time. Different in so many ways we could bore you for hours talking about it. But for us, it is not boring at all. It’s something of a miracle. There are less expectations, more living in the moment. There’s a lot of checking in to make sure the other is OK. Conversation. Always conversation.

Somewhere once I read that the average couple, married for a year or more, spent a total of ten minutes a day in real conversation. Not the “who’s picking up the kid” stuff, but real conversation about what they think or feel, where they struggle or what they feel like celebrating.

If that is true, somewhere there are couples that talk 30 seconds a day, because we blow that off the charts. We talk constantly. In the morning. Through the day. In the evenings we talk, sometimes for hours. She has a tendency to wake up about three in the morning. Guess what happens?

Yep, more conversation.

For an introverted bachelor like me, this has been a revelation. An adjustment. A good thing.

I am not used to be listened to so intently. She remembers things. She adjusts to where I am and what I say. It matters to her, just as what she says matters to me. But that kind of real, deep give and take is new to me. Even the hard conversations have that give and take. Without rancor.

She’s patient with me. I am quiet. It takes a while for me to piece together what I am thinking and feeling. Most of the people in my life have been impatient with that, and their impatience turned to mocking or yelling or cutting me down to size and telling me what I think or feel. They were mostly wrong, but it became their truth.

Not her. She listens. She waits. (and that’s not easy for her.).

Marrying her was not a “fix” for anything. I wasn’t trying to fill my life. My life was fine. I wasn’t incomplete. Neither was she. We both are strong personalities. She, the extrovert, more obviously so. Me, the introvert, quietly so.

No this was not fixing. This was a simple thing. I loved her. She loved me. We wanted to be together. We wanted to build a life together. We came to trust each other as someone who could build that life together in joy and grace and grownup love. We came to feel safe, emotionally safe, with each other. And considering our separate journeys, emotional safety was a rare and precious commodity.

I haven’t decided yet which has been more important to us. The sparks or the safety. Both are new to me. It’s been a long long time. Before her, I had come to the place where I had accepted that I would likely never find both in a relationship. Maybe companionship was enough. Or maybe alone was enough.  She too is a creature of sparks and safety.

And so we revel in it. A year later, we revel in it. In each other.

Life is not perfect. I still fight my battles. She still fights hers. We bounce between two states because of the work we do, and that is tiring. Camelot we are not. But life is better than I expected after I was cast aside 12 years ago. And I can not imagine life now without her. I am absurdly happy, flaws, struggles, complications and all.

Thanks for bearing with me as I celebrate.

You, my readers and friends, have to bear with my struggles, depression and inner head work on a regular basis. I just wanted to remind you that despite all that, my life is good, and to let you know one of the many reasons why.

Her.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

One thought on “Safety and Sparks

  1. The way you write about your discovery of this grown-up love and also seeing you together with the woman you love and who clearly loves you when I am blessed to visit keeps my faith in love and hope for healing alive.

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