Anonymous IMer asks: How has your love story with your husband changed since you first fell in love?
Oh, jeepers. The short, smart-ass answer is, "A shit ton, give or take a shit." The long answer deserves more time and thought than what I'm about to say here, but I'll limit the focus to just the "love story" part of our relationship (i.e., not our co-parenting, the daily banalities of marriage, or what-have-you), and just from my point of view.
First and foremost, I think it's important to point out that I was 23 when we got married. I was a baby, and didn't know myself and/or my potential selves, let alone all of the intricacies of Tim's psyche. All I really knew was that our connection ran deep, like animal-brain, pheromone-level deep. I could just stare at him for hours, talk to him for days on end, memorize every pore. My heart rate would palpably slow down if I just leaned into his neck and breathed him in. And of course, there were fireworks every time we touched.
(Sounds so cheesy and stalkery now! But I shall go on.)
Because this kind of affection inevitably cuts both ways, and probably also because I was still very much at the mercy of my depression, I really, really needed him. I had this juvenile desire to spend every moment together, so any meal, movie, or laundry folding session spent apart wounded me. I also thought the relationship would end quite often, so I would constantly miss him, sometimes even when he was right there next to me. As you can guess, Tim felt suffocated and would pull away at times, which made me feel worse. The whole thing was pretty unhealthy, and I really had to grow up quite a bit and learn how to be my own person. Unfortunately, this was when I was also trying to figure out how to be a mother, so Isaac's early years were tumultuous for Tim and I couple-wise.
Nowadays, things are much more stable. I still like to smell him, but I'm more comfortable in my own skin. I've developed and nurtured my own self-identity, learned to recognize where I end and other people begin. So now I'm fine being alone, with or without the kids, and that's very much a good thing. Having a home to call our own with the little family farm out back helped me greatly, too. Once we were able to put down roots somewhere, my spirit really started growing.
We still can talk for hours, make each other laugh, and we go out a couple times a month to concerts, movies, dinners, drinks, etc. But now the stakes aren't so high, perceived rejections aren't constantly plaguing me, and I feel more relaxed. There are still fireworks, but toned down a smidge because our house is small and Emi has an uncanny "business time" spidey sense. I think she wants to ensure she's the baby of the family.
So, moral of the story is: relationships are extremely tough to sustain because you are not just dealing with two people over a certain period; you are also dealing with the people they morph into over the years as well as the shifting whirlpools of their environment. So at any given slice of time, are the partners compatible at that moment? Hopefully so, but chances are there will be time periods of incompatibility. And I think that's okay. If you're really in it for the long haul, when you look over at your partner and find an almost-complete stranger who isn't up to snuff, at some point you will have to think, "I will wait; this person is worth waiting for." Of course, the two of you could always find other people who are already at the levels you need, but what's the fun in that? :P