Valentine’s reminds me of when my husband and I met. Though I could write a book about it, I’ll provide the Coles notes instead.
We met over 40 years ago in Calgary when digital didn’t exist and bad haircuts from the seventies did. There were no texts, and scrolling meant you were somehow engaged with a papyrus roll of parchment paper. If you were young and at home on the weekend instead of being out, it was because you were either tired or sick.
We met through a mutual friend at a bar when landlines were alive and well, and coordinating was necessary. A different experience than it is now. People relied on face-to-face communication and nonverbal cues to get to know each other back then. While technology has changed how people interact and connect, there is still something special about connecting with someone in person. In our case, we were repelled by each other.
Regardless of the setting or the time, what matters most is the connection and affection we felt for each other upon our second meeting.
I was invited by the same mutual friend and brought as his guest to a backyard party my now–husband was hosting. A barbecue that resembled nothing remotely close to an outdoor grilling event but, more accurately, to Woodstock. It was packed with individuals sporting shags and mullets who were either in art school or working somewhere on the pipelines. The ground was covered in blankets as guitars and music played. Despite being outside, there was a fog so thick of smoke from all the weed that I’m surprised it didn’t capture the attention of aerial firefighters.
Seeing it was my husband’s birthday, I brought a card, and we finally engaged in conversation. I then realized he was lovely and not who I thought he was when we initially met at the bar.
From that night on, our paths intersected in ridiculous ways, and it became clear that the Universe wanted us to connect. And we did. Our courtship was short, literally two weeks, when I asked him to marry me over a pepperoni pizza. Crazy, maybe, but I took a chance. I didn’t know his last name, but I knew he filled a spot in my heart that I didn’t even know had been empty. Though raised to be a good Catholic girl, his company kept me out of that vortex and brought me into one filled with Kahill Gibran, spirituality and creativity.
As a human being, he was and continues to be a great person to spar with. We disagree on several things but can agree on more significant issues. We’re not opposites, we’re just particular regarding our views. He was and continues to be a great teacher for me as I am for him, and we both bear witness to each other’s lives. Easy, it has not been, but all marriages have challenges. It’s how we love through those challenges that either augment or destroy the union. Nothing is infallible.
There’s an aspect of soulmate, but that is a loaded word that I can’t fully fathom. Instead, we have some unnatural ethereal history to the point that there exists a deep resonance or a profound knowing within each of us that recognizes it in the other.
The decades have flown by, and now with grown kids and grandkids, I feel younger than when we first met. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it’s my truth, so I’m sticking to it. Our life hasn’t been fancy or uncomplicated, but it’s been thrilling regarding how we’ve expanded as human beings. To push up against each other and know that someone is there as you continue to grow and develop on your own journey provides an intoxicating peace that carries you to the next level. That support is indescribable, especially when you both realize that though you are together, you have your own paths to follow. He doesn’t complete me, nor do I complete him. That misguided idea can lead to unhealthy expectations and dependencies in relationships. Individuals are whole and complete in themselves, and no one can complete another.
Relationships shouldn’t be seen as a means of fulfilling a lack or incompleteness within oneself but rather as a way of sharing and enhancing one’s life with another person. Both partners bring their own sense of wholeness and completeness to the relationship and work to support and grow each other. Maintaining one’s identity within the relationship is vital to avoid losing oneself in the pursuit of making the relationship work. A healthy relationship is one in which both partners maintain their own sense of self while coming together to support and care for each other.
Ironically, I swore I would never marry or have kids. I was surrounded by only a few that modelled extraordinary unions. I was not afraid of being alone and didn’t subscribe to being lonely because I never believed in it. I recognized the Universe is all around us, having fostered an intimate relationship with its existence since childhood and surrounded by loving friends. I was terrified of waking up to someone I had no connection to. I lived alone for some time before I married, and I enjoyed my company during that time. Even today, I work independently and have no problem entertaining myself.
Cupid missed our hearts and went straight for our souls. He didn’t promise ease, but he did Grace. There are times in a marriage or any intimate union when losing a limb is less painful than having a heartfelt and complex discussion. Emotional pain can be more challenging and difficult to bear than physical pain. As it often involves complex and deeply personal feelings and experiences. The pain of a broken heart, rejection, or betrayal can be intense and long-lasting and profoundly impact a person’s emotional well-being. Whereas physical pain can be treated with medicine or surgery, emotional pain requires introspection, self-reflection, and support from others to heal. And there lies the healing which is an integral step in recovery, growth and resilience.
My husband and I continue to mature through our challenges and have learned to change our perspective around difficulties. They’re opportunities packaged differently, nothing less, making them new and fresh possibilities that can be nurtured into something quite remarkable. With life’s ups and downs, we can adopt a more positive and proactive perspective by seeing them as opportunities for growth. Finding solutions to overcome obstacles while we grow helps us become stronger in the process, developing resilience and greater life satisfaction.
Building and sustaining a relationship requires ongoing effort, communication, and a commitment to growth and improvement. Not everyone is willing or able to do the necessary work to keep a relationship strong. Love is an essential ingredient in the union for the rewards to be significant and long-lasting for those willing to invest in it.
A well-travelled friend commented on how little I have voyaged in the past several years. I replied that I hadn’t missed it because my safe place was in my partner’s arms, wherever they were. I want to be. I don’t need a foreign destination to appreciate something in the here and now that is rich and nourishing to my well-being as the Love surrounding me.
In many cultures, Love is typically associated with romantic relationships and finding “the one” as the only genuinely valid Love. It’s not. It’s essential to recognize and celebrate the different expressions of Love in our lives. By focusing on our problems and concerns, we miss the Love and beauty that already exists in our lives. Love is a multi-dimensional light force that encompasses many different forms and expressions from other sources, including the Universe and the people in our lives. Whether it is the Love between friends, family, pets or romantic partners, the Love and beauty of nature, the Love and kindness shown by strangers or a sense of Love and connection to the Universe, it is a fundamental aspect of the human experience. Love is a powerful energy that can bring happiness, comfort, and healing to those who experience it. And we must not forget the powerful Love we have for ourselves.
As we become more aware, we experience a more profound sense of connection, joy, and fulfillment. Working towards creating a more loving and compassionate world for ourselves and others and evolving more intentionally about practicing Love and kindness in our daily lives by seeking out opportunities to connect with others and spread Love in the world. I think what Edwin Starr really meant to say was, “Love, what is it good for, absolutely everything.”
Our Valentines will be understated with no gifts or chocolate, but there will be laughter, some carbs and dessert because that’s how we roll.
I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s and want you to know that you are never alone, that the Universe adores you, that Love surrounds you, and that it’s okay to take a chance.