Young love is a beautiful thing—exciting, unpredictable, passionate. But I’m a much bigger fan of old love. I skim through my FaceBook friends’ photos looking for the couples who have been married for more years than most people have owned their current vehicles. Despite what the movies, romance novels, and love songs say, staying together through the tough stuff trumps falling head over heels at first sight. When I watched “The Notebook,” I wanted to fast forward through the antics of the silly youngsters and get to the story of the old folks. I want more songs and movies about old love.
At an age where every joint aches and the memory trips me up faster than a speed bump on a bicycle, I find myself thinking about our 29-year romance when I wake up in the morning and as I lie in bed at night. Old love is so amazingly beautiful because it carries endless days of sacrifice, devotion, and little things that mean so much.
My husband is still writing love notes. They’re not the mushy, lengthy, page-after-page kind. They’re on 3 x 3 bold-colored slips of paper. The handwriting is getting hard to decipher. The numbered items are brief. But I find these notes scattered throughout my favorite areas of the house…at the end of the book I’m reading, between slacks in my dresser drawers, on my make-up table. The notes usually start with “I love you because…” Rich has given me over 1,000 reasons why he loves me. Okay, so once in a while, he repeats some, but the notes always make me smile and remember how lucky I am to have him. I try to write notes for him, but if this were a competition, I’d be coming in fourth in a three-man race.
I’m not the only one who gets special treatment after decades of togetherness. I asked my FaceBook friends to share how their husbands or wives make them feel loved. I was not prepared for the charming and adorable responses that came from across the country.
Many friends spoke of daily routines or actions that a spouse has been doing for many years, or as my friend, Sheri said, “…every single time without fail.” There are husbands out there who always open the car door, prepare tea or coffee, and place it on the nightstand each morning, or start the car on a cold morning, making sure the seat warmer is on.
Other spouses mentioned ongoing support for their needs, dreams, and desires. My dad quit his after-retirement job when my mom got cancer. He took her to every appointment and sat beside her for the six months of her battle with cancer. I loved the line of the man who told his wife, “I live here too and make dirty laundry like everyone else,” and proved his words by sharing the housework. Barbara’s sweet husband, despite his own difficulties getting around, does the grocery shopping and cleaning now that she walks with a cane. One newlywed of only eight years said her husband is a professional pianist but gives her private recitals playing her favorite songs.
One friend said her husband, a new resident of Heaven now, was her biggest fan and encourager in her art projects and teaching opportunities. Another said, “It’s all in the small details he pays attention to and remembers,” like which brand to buy and what new products might turn into a new favorite. Rachael remembered the day she graduated with her master’s degree and “the way he looked at me. It was perfect.” Jeanne said her semi-retired husband prays for her each morning and asks, “What can I do for you here today?” Some mentioned a spouse’s ability to resist giving advice or trying to fix things rather than just being there or asking the opinion of the other person. My husband prays each night, “Help me to be what she needs me to be.” He also prays for safety in traveling to school and for a good day at work. That one doesn’t always take, though.
Many people talked about the physical touch of a hand on the small of the back, touching her hair, a hug while passing in the house, cuddling in bed, and dancing all over the house. Others felt loved by the time given to spend with extended family, grandchildren, and step-grandchildren, the recognition that what is important to one is important to the other.
I doubt any of these husbands or wives are perfect. What makes these relationships worth celebrating is the way the little things that express love and devotion are felt day after day, one year after another, every single time, and without fail. I think I’m looking at some powerful song lyrics here, or maybe I’ll try to write a new kind of Hallmark movie, one with lots of gray hair and wrinkles.
If you missed the original question on FaceBook, feel free to add to this list. Send me an email or add a comment. I could read this kind of love story all day.