My husband and I have been married for twenty years now. We are totally in love and we are a “happily married couple” in every sense of the phrase. When people ask me how we stay happily married I usually give them the spiel about communication and being friends first, it takes an equal partnership, yadda, yada, yada. All of those things are true of any healthy relationship. With close friends, family and even at work things run smoothly if you follow one rule – If you don’t understand something, ask. I believe what makes a happily married couple is two people who are happy to begin with that are willing to stay together.
There have been plenty of times when either one have us have been unhappy for one reason or another. So far, we have been lucky to never be unhappy at the same time. Sad at the same time, yes. Distressed, worried, yes. We have always been able to support each other through difficult times. Generally, my husband is a pretty happy guy! When he has been unhappy about our marriage or about me, he was willing to work through it and he has always been very devoted to me. Even at the worst of times, I have supported him and been able to stick with it.
I am an optimistic person for the most part. I have suffered through clinical depression. When I feel like the world is closing in on me, I begin to count my blessings and being married to this man is always at the top of the list! Gratitude goes a long way on the path to happiness. When I am truly happy with myself and my situation, my love flows freely. When I am able to truly love, and be loving, the feeling spreads to those around me. My beloved responds and showers me with his love. The root of my happiness starts with what is in my own heart.
My husband is my “true love.” But, I have been in love before. I had a crush on an upper classmen in high school and after he graduated, he came back to volunteer! I was determined to get a date with him. We became friends and did start dating. I was trying to play things cool and was open to dating other people. I thought I was doing the mature thing and that would keep him interested. I had already begun dating the person I eventually married. My big crush took the “high road” and stepped back to let me decide what (or who) I really wanted and he joined the Air Force. When he left he said, “You’ll always be my girl.”
We wrote to each other for awhile and as would be expected, my relationship with the boy who stayed around got stronger. After awhile, I lost touch with my crush. But, in my heart, I was waiting for him to come home to me and sweep me off my feet. Instead, I got a call from him to tell me he was getting married. I was heartbroken!! I asked him, “If we had kept writing to each other would I be the one making the wedding plans?” He said simply, “You will always be my girl!” That didn’t help!
Every few years, he would come home to visit family and friends. No matter where I was living or working, he would find me. Many times I would get a call out of the blue and it would be his deep distinctive voice saying, “Hey girl.” My heart would sink. I would get that tingly nervous feeling. We would get caught up on each other’s lives. When I saw him, I always had a feeling that I lost him when I had the chance and that he came around to see me because he wanted me to make a move. I never had the nerve. Besides, I was married to a wonderful guy! Then, as both of our families grew, we lost touch again. I hadn’t heard from him for a very long time. We were friends on Facebook, but I really didn’t even follow or keep up on him anymore. He had stayed in the Air Force as a career and had travelled the world. It had been about six years since I heard from him. Then I got a call at work.
He had retired, was divorced, and was planning to move back to the area. What was that middle part? And he wanted to know if we could get together when he was in town. Was he back to sweep me off my feet? It’s been twenty-five years since we had a romance and I was still thinking he could be coming back for me. Well, not really. The teenage girl trapped inside me who was still pining for him heard that he was coming back. The sensible me did the right things and asked questions. But that sneaky little girl was still curious!
He came to my office and took me out to lunch. He was still handsome and interesting and was everything I had remembered him to be. He told me all about how he and his wife split up. He told me he needed to take care of his ailing parents. He asked me about my life, family and work. We talked for hours. I decided to ask him what made him think of me and if he still had any feelings for me after all this time. To be honest, I have no idea what he said. He spoke. It sounded positive. He said the right things, tactfully, sweetly, honestly. I am sure of it. But all I could think about was, “What the heck do I think I am doing?”
The adult me answered, “You are flattering yourself.” True that! I needed it and deserved it, everyone does! After all, it was flattering. He was coming for a visit down memory lane and he thought of me. But it definitely wasn’t at all because he wanted to see if I was willing to take him back after all these years. Don’t think it’s because he is that much of a stand up guy that he wouldn’t break up my marriage. Of course he wouldn’t. But I’ll never know for sure. No, it is because he was already seeing someone!! It turns out that he was networking for job connections so that he could move here to be closer to his girlfriend!
I just want you to know that all of this nonsense taught me some lessons. First, love never dies. First love, school girl crushes, puppy love, it lasts as long as you remember how it felt to love someone. Like a flower, you can tend to it and it can take root and grow and grow and eventually branch into new directions and last forever. Or, you can pluck it and put it in water. It may last awhile that way and be beautiful. You can preserve the memory of its beauty and press it in a book. It will remind you of your youth and how you were once someone’s girl. But if you take it out and touch it and try and make it grow after all that time, it will crumble and fall apart. Some things are just not meant to be.
That doesn’t mean it was a waste of time! The other thing I learned is that an idea trapped in one’s mind fades away quite easily. All you have to do is let go. It took seeing him again to make that happen. It took thinking about it and planning and evaluating all the what if’s and could I evers. Could I have seduced him and begged him to come back to me? Would he have? Could I have a chance to start over? I guess not or I would be writing a heated love connection story right now rather than giving advice on what to do about unrequited love! The point is, I let go of the pipe dream. I was the stand up girl. I was in love with my husband. I did not go looking for this guy! I helped him get an interview at my work and put in a good word. I was relieved when he didn’t get the job. I’ll bet my husband was relieved, too!
Love & Marriage
The Happiness Project
May 1, 2012
by Melissa Reyes