I Love You for Free

“Love is the ultimate outlaw, it just won’t adhere to any rules.The most any of us can is do is sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words ‘make’ and ‘stay’ become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”  – Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

My (second) first wedding anniversary is right around the corner, and oh how this time around has become the best thing that has ever happened to me!  

I wasn’t a child of divorce, my parents will be celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary later this year. All of my grandparents remained married until they were separated by death. I was raised in the church, went to a Christian high school, so to that end,  DIVORCE wasn’t something we did, and yet, there I stood, after 8 years of marriage signing divorce papers. I married young.  Looking back, I think it’s safe to say that I settled.  Getting married and having babies at a young age was what you did, especially in this small town.  So, at the age of 20 I married the first serious boyfriend I ever had and tried to figure the rest out as I went along.  It was messy.  It was an emotional roller coaster. We were both young. We had no clue who we were as individuals, let alone as a couple. We tried to make the best of it.  We had a baby, and they aren’t kidding when they say ‘having a baby won’t fix anything’!  If anything, it made it more glaring just how different we were becoming. So, it ended. I’m not going to point fingers or delve into what went wrong in my first marriage because that isn’t the point. The point is that it had to end for me to be where I am now.

I spent the six years following my divorce putting the pieces of my heart and soul back together.  I vowed to never remarry.  Why would I bother to re-enter an institution that had failed me?  Why would I set myself up for failure and heartache again? SO, I focused on raising my son and working to provide a comfortable life for the two of us.  We went from a spacious house to a tiny apartment, but that three room apartment felt more like home than the large house ever had. We made memories. I struggled with loneliness, especially when Jaxon spent time with his father.  I made friends.  I went out.  I dated, nice guys and not so nice guys.  I turned THIRTY.  I survived. I learned many lessons along the way.  I cried.  I went to therapy.  I learned about love…the real kind.  I learned what I wanted in a partner.  I allowed myself the time I needed to sit with my loneliness, and to be okay.  During the struggles of my season of single-hood I found me. Those struggles prepared me and my heart to let love in and try again.

Then, out of nowhere, it happened.  I fell in love again. I fell in love with a man I wasn’t looking for, but I turned around and there he stood.  Sam is the epitome of love. Sam  is patient and kind. He is not selfish. He is funny and smart.  He is handsome and sweet. He is the half that makes me whole. He is my best friend. We fell in love hard and fast, and got married three and a half months after meeting! Our love isn’t like anything I have ever experienced.  There are no false pretenses. We are completely real with one another.  We make mistakes.  We can both be cranky and unkind with our words. We both have baggage from previous marriages, but because of our love, we work together as a team to unpack the messy baggage and turn it into something beautiful. What we have learned about love and marriage, is that rules are for other people.  What works for one couple might not work for another.  We have learned that you can’t do certain things, or behave in certain ways, or seek constant perfection in order to make love stay. Nothing we can do will make love stay.  So we do the best we can, every single day, to make sure the other person knows that we love them.  There are no strings attached to my love for Sam.  I won’t love him more if he remembers to take the trash out Sunday nights.  I don’t love him less when he leaves the milk on the counter.  I love him, quirks and all, good mood or bad, peak or valley.  I love him for free!!

Rings

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