Throwback Thursday – Falling or Climbing

Would you believe I have over 1800 posts here on Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog?   Maybe that’s why new post topics seem hard to come by.  At any rate, I’ve decided to repost my favorites on Throw Back Thursday.   This post, Falling and Climbing, was originally posted in 2009 then again in 2011.   It is about the true meaning of love, at least as I see it.  It is about what it really means to have a soulmate who challenges you to be the best person you can be, not one who is a reason to leave the relationship you are in.

My wife and I are friends with a couple who are about ten years older than we are … and who have been married ten years longer.    When they’re out together, they get those aren’t they a cute old couple looks.   People often ask them, “How can we have a marriage like yours?”    The answer is this –  “If you want to have what we have, you have to go through what we went through,” a response I liked enough to use in my toast at my daughter’s wedding.

Now, there are probably a lot of people that would say, “Oh, they were meant for each other,” or they’re soulmates, as if that somehow explains the success of their marriage for over 50 years while so many fail.    The truth of the matter is I’ve heard more people talk about soulmates on the way out of a marriage than during one, as in, “Oh, I found my soulmate.  That’s why I’m leaving”.     In his book, Bridge Across Forever – A Love Story, Richard Bach finds that his soulmate, Angela, doesn’t simply conform to his illusions and make his life easier.    That’s the romance novel view of the world that contributes to the end of so many marriages when it’s time to stop dreaming and start growing up.    A soulmate is put in your life not just to be a loving companion but to help you do your soul work – learning who you are and why you’re here.    It’s sometimes easier to move on than learn those lessons.    As if to prove my point, Richard Bach divorced Angela after 20 years of marriage.   Being meant for each other doesn’t mean you can’t screw it up.

David Aaron, in his book on the Kabbalah, Endless Light, contrasts falling in love with what he calls climbing in love.  As the hormones decline and the infatuation fades, we begin to see the totality of our partner, things we like (which we probably had already noticed) and things we don’t (where did those come from?).    It is then that we have the opportunity, like our friends, to go through what they went through (the ups and downs of life) in order to have what they have (real love).   Every partner brings lessons but a soulmate brings exactly the lessons we need.    This curriculum requires such ego-challenges such as agreeing to disagree, compromise, and worst of all, admitting we might be wrong.   It follows that until we exit the lost-in-love stage and spend some time climbing in love, we can’t know whether our partner is our soulmate or not.    If that makes marriage sound like work, welcome to the real world.    Having a playmate can be fun, even make you happy for a while, but it can’t make you joyful or fulfilled.

After forty-seven years of marriage, I’d add something of my own to David Aaron’s view of  love.   After you’ve climbed in love for a while, an amazing thing happens – you look up from the day-to-day tedium and the week-to-week struggles, and see your partner through Older Eyes.    She may have wrinkles and a few more pounds than Weight Watchers recommends.    You know she’ll throw out your favorite holey jeans and talk too much during basketball games.    You may be balding and spend too much time in those unwashed, holey jeans.   You leave the toilet seat up and throw your socks on the floor.     But through your Older Eyes, you see the Love of Your Life.    You are in love with her exactly as she is and she with you.    There is nothing better in life.

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