Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare, 1564 – 1616
William Shakespeare was a great writer of romantic poetry and dramas, perhaps one can even argue the greatest. I love the images he gives us in Sonnet 116. I picture a lighthouse, a ship at sea, and a storm. He writes that love is “an ever-fixed mark” and “Love alters not.” It is a guiding star. It doesn’t change when you see the other’s faults. But is true love unchanging? I think answering in the affirmative is too simple of a response.
On Valentine’s Day weekend we focus on romantic love, that first love that draws us together and drives us nuts. It’s fun, and it’s exciting, but I know from my own experience those feelings don’t last forever. Sorry Hallmark.
I think Tom Hiddleston is more accurate when he said, during an interview for his vampire love story Only Lover’s Left Alive in 2014, “Real love is strange and changeable… but also somehow constant.”
My experience has been real love is fluid, constantly changing and unpredictable as the ocean. When you first fall in love it’s like getting pounded by a wave. It’s exhilarating. Your heart races. Your vision is blurry. You can’t wait for next one to knock you off your feet. As you spend more time together, you learn to ride the waves. You learn to take on gnarly waves, flat seas, riptides, and storms remaining afloat together. Just like the ocean is in constant motion, ever changing, so does the relationship between two people, if it is to last beyond the rush of first love.
I love my husband, but if I expected us to still be acting like the young couple were thirty years ago I don’t think we’d still be together. We like, other long-marrieds, have matured and that has changed the relationship. I find there I times when the giddy love-struck playfulness is still there – just not every day, all day. Mature relationship shifts with the tide and we become what our partner needs at that moment. At any given moment, I find I may become caregiver, parent, sibling, teacher, playmate or lover to my husband depending on his mood, his needs, his desires. And he does the same for me.
What did I get for Valentine’s Day from Clayton? Nothing. That’s right, he didn’t buy me flowers, candy or jewelry. He didn’t take me out to a fancy restaurant. But last week, he came home from a comic show with a Loki pendant, just because he thought I’d like it. This week, he drove me to work even though it was out of his way, just because my car was in the shop. And today, he’ll proof read this blog for me, just because I asked him. I think I prefer these little everyday demonstrations of his affection than a big show of it once a year.
So Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope it was full of love and laughter that continues throughout the year.
Update: I originally posted this two years ago, and not much has changed. Married life is still full of its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change a thing. And what are we doing for Valentine’s Day this year? Same thing we do every year – come home from work, a pot of tea, walk the dogs, cook dinner, and watch a movie.
Until next time . . .
The door is always open, and the kettle is always on.