Different Kinds of Happy

We love to have couples over for dinner. It’s probably one of our very favorite things to do, to open our doors and hearts and table to two other people on the up-and-down journey of sweet love. We’ve had new couples, and long-married, folks in just about the same boat as us and those we can love on and be loved on in return. We love to have all kinds of people over to break bread, but there’s something really sacred about journeying with other people who understand … or are starting to understand … just what a crazy adventure being a couple really is.

Last night, two of our friends who are new to the couples scene joined us for some new recipes, quite a few mojitos, and lots of laughter. They recounted their first date, filling in each others’ sentences and holding hands and shining with the bright new look of security and happiness and finally feeling accepted and adored. It was utterly refreshing to watch two people who were simply delighted to be in each other’s presence. The joy was contagious.

When they left, and Price and I stood in our little living room with the door closed and the laughter lingering down the stairs, he gave me a big hug and I looked up at him and said, “we don’t love each other like that anymore.”

He said, “yes we do!” in the defiantly male way. But we really don’t.

Falling in love in college is the best and worst way to do it, I think. It’s the best because the whole world is new, and it’s lying at your fingertips like a blank page … and you just want to scribble your signature all over it and falling in love makes you think you’ll do it together. Everything is possible. There isn’t a mortgage, or competing careers, or arms longing to hold a baby with heads that can’t quite make sense of it yet.

Falling love in college, for me, was never quite the unabashedly joyful, giddy kind of first love. Price was, of course, my first actualized love. A few boys broke my little wayward heart in high school, but most of those memories are washed with embarrassment … and some regret.

Being the first real love of a rather ambitious and quite insecure girl was no easy task for my dear, patient, patient husband. Those early days of pinching myself, hardly believing that the cute redhead from the debate team actually did want to kiss me and take me out to dinner and bring me flowers … those sweet first feelings were intermingled with so much fear I could barely see straight, with at first the utter terror that everything I had worked for my whole life would float away when I said “I do”, and then with the sheer panic that I could lose this man at any moment to a prettier girl, or a smarter one, or one that was more sure of herself than the mess of a young lady that he had picked to be his.

There was still giddiness, though, and joy. And a healthy amount of pinching myself to make sure that I was lucky enough to be in love and that it wasn’t just another girlish dream.

Fast forward four-and-a-half years, and so often it seems that our love now is more about starving for time with each other, dissecting and debating our days’ work, and fighting over what gets cut in the budget this month or whose turn it is to change the cat’s litter.

And yet there are glimpses of those yesterdays … like this morning, when I unexpectedly passed his car on the road and I started beaming because it just made my morning.

Sometimes it’s really, really, really hard to be married.

Sometimes I wonder how in the world people stay married. I certainly don’t understand how they stay married without the daily intervention of the Gospel.

But I am learning that there are different kinds of happy. And that I really wouldn’t trade all of the giddy, first-in-love kind of happy for the happy we have now … though that happy was a lot more fun. And I’m sure that as we age, and our faces fill with wrinkles and our house fills with children and grandchildren and God-willing great-grandchildren, there will be all sorts of new kinds of happy and sad to share. It’s what I hope for more than anything in the world … a very long life with so much love that it will be hard for me to pass into the next without a really good fight.

Things that make me think more about these thoughts … you should check them out:

Sara Groves’ Fireflies & Songs

Ann Voskamp’s Love for the Middle Years

Our dear pastor, Russ Ramsey’s sermon series on 1 Corinthians. I don’t think all the podcasts are up yet though.

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