"The secret to a happy and lasting marriage", my wife said to a friend yesterday, "is learning how to fight well."
I have heard her say this before. I’ve never liked the answer…it seems so negative. Everything in me wants to say something like, "Having found the right person, love simply endures."
My wife however, hearing this, would smile and humour my quixotic side, and allow me to go on tilting at windmills, ah, for a time. Not that "compatibility" is unimportant. My wife would simply say that it’s not key.
You see, she looks deeper. There is, within her "inscape", an intuitive amative (love expressing) pragmatism. In other words, she knows the value of true communication.
Her, "learning how to fight well", is really a way of saying that in a marriage it’s critical to tenaciously keep lines of communication open. She would tell you that it’s imperative to fight for those connections and openings, to keep things flowing, even when they hurt.
Well, I’m here to tell you that with me, Debbie almost met her match. I can close down like a prodded sea anemone. That is my default position. Another phrase comes to mind…passive aggressive, which when I heard the term for the first time, oh, twenty years ago or so, had me heading for cover. But my wife would find me and shine a light under the layers. Which I know for her was excruciatingly hard work.
Of course what that is, is nothing but active love. It’s caring enough to hurt. It’s saying that you matter, and not just for the moment.
What happens to you when you know you matter to someone? You either grow or run. I’ve done both but perhaps, as twenty years may indicate, I’ve learned to run less and grow more.
I’ve even learned, I think, to occasionally seek out and shine a light under my wife’s "layers".
And all this only because someone loved me enough to "fight well" with me.
Happy Twentieth Anniversary Love…, s.
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