A few years ago I went to the wedding reception of some good friends of mine. It was a beautiful ceremony, nice decorations and wonderful music. The members of the wedding party toasted the bride and groom and handed out sage advice for how to make the marriage last.
There were funny ones like..."You get what you get and you don't throw a fit" and "Cut up her credit card and all will be well."
There were a also more serious advice. "Love each other every day" and "never go to bed angry at one another"
My favorite and the one that has stayed with me is "True love is the way you treat your partner when you're not attracted to them."
What? You're married to someone you're not attracted to?
A shocking idea and one that rubs our sense of love and fidelity raw.
It is, however, the truth.
Over the last 18 years, my ability to be attracted to my husband is based on his voice, his personality, his good nature, sense of humor and patience. He is a man among men unlike any other.
He is also human and imperfect, even though he hides it really well.
It is harder for him though. He has seen me so sick I'm shaking and crying. He has seen me cut open from rib cage to pelvis. He watched his premature son, snatched from my womb which was cut wide open until he could see my lungs and rib cage. He's seen every manner of blood, fluid, puke, tears and pain come through my skin, my body, my scars and my heart. I've had tubes up my nose, down my throat and inserted in every vein in my body. He's held my hand, my hair when I vomited, my legs when they were swollen to twice their normal size and my body flat when I had an allergic reaction to a medication. He's seen in me, through me, and around my misshapen and malformed body.
If attraction were necessary for us to have stayed married all these years, he'd of left me before we got married.
So often we think that attraction is love. Its not. Its just the costume love wears until the work begins.
When we go looking for the person we'll spend forever with, we look with our eyes and the first thing we find is the costume. It's said. "Men love what they're attracted to and women are attracted to what they love." The truth is Love is hard work, sacrifice, unselfishness, compromise, swallowed pride, being wrong, listening instead of hearing and letting go of being right because its an empty prize compared to being loved.
I always tell my husband that after all he's been through with me, his next wife needs to be a super model or something. He laughs, traces my healed wounds and tells me he loves my scars. They tell our story.
After all he's seen, the crazy part is he's still attracted to me too. Not the costume, the real me. Flawed, broken and imperfect because he looks at me with love, real love. Its the way he treats me, when he's not attracted. Its what makes him the love of my life.