Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be. ~ Anton Chekhov
Young Love and Seasoned Love
I enjoy watching young couples in love. They look at each other with such innocence, believing that every day will be sweet and bring joy. I usually can’t help but chuckle about all the things they will shortly learn about themselves, each other, and the world. It gives me even greater pleasure to watch older couples in love. These couples look at each other with a more seasoned love—one that has stood the test of time. They have weathered the storms and are still standing strong. Watching them can bring tears to my eyes.
The more we love someone, the more we want to be the best person we can possibly be. We develop concern, empathy, compassion, trust, and friendship. We strive to be better at all that we do and all that we are in order to support and sustain those who we love. Indeed, we try to be the person we should be—the person God wants us to be.
I suppose it sounds a little cheesy to say that I wouldn’t be the person I am if it weren’t for my husband, but it’s true. When we love someone, we want to make them happy, and when we make them happy, we find our own peace and joy. Somewhere in that process we find our true selves as we strive to be the best that we can be.
Love Shows All
We come from Heavenly Parents who love us and hold us dear to their hearts. They want us to find that “normal state” of happiness that comes from loving and being all that we can be. Loving others shows us things in our hearts that we never knew existed. Loves shows all. It shows us our mistakes so that we can correct them and our weaknesses so that we can overcome them. Love helps us see ourselves as if we were looking in a mirror.
In every marriage there are moments of hurt and anguish. We are imperfect mortals. Each time we hurt the one we love most, we hurt ourselves even more. I remember a particular occasion when I said something horrible to my husband in anger. I had immediate regret as I saw the hurt in his eyes. There is no apology that is capable of taking away certain pain, but somehow we forgive and move on—maybe a little scarred, but also with a bit more wisdom. It is those scars mixed with wisdom that I see when I watch an older couple in love. Somehow they managed to heal the wounds by expanding the love.
Love Takes Time
The difference between the older couple and the younger couple is life experience. The older couple has the battle scars of lives well-lived. In other words, the difference between the two couples is time. Love is an action word, and action takes time. As we serve those we love, the love we have grows. The young couple has a tiny spark of love, but the older couple’s love is seasoned by time.
Love of God takes time. Love of family takes time. Love of country takes time. Love of neighbor takes time. Love of companion takes time. Love in courtship takes time. Love of self takes time. . . . [M]eaningful love is a continuing process that will bring joy and happiness to all participating parties. May we take the time to show our families, our friends, the stranger, our prophet, and our God that our declarations of love are backed up by performance by our daily lives, that we know for love to be acceptable to God and man it must be continuing and originate from within (Marvin J. Ashton, “Love Takes Time,” Oct. 1975 General Conference).
It takes time to serve someone we love. It takes time to make all those mistakes, backtrack, forgive, and expand love. It takes time for love to show all our flaws, and for us to fix them. It takes time to listen, confide, comfort, and learn. Those older couples are nothing more than the younger couples who have taken that time to find that deeper love.
Time Plus Work
I’m still learning love. My husband and I have been married 38 1/2 years, our children are grown and out of our home, and I’m still learning. The love is much sweeter than it was all those years ago, but every single day brings new challenges and new experiences. I cherish the time we have now, because I don’t know how much time we have left. He is 12 years older than I am, and I think about that regularly. Love still continues to show me more flaws in myself with each passing day. I keep working, and so does he. As we work together, our love continues to grow stronger.
Marriage, my beloved young brothers and sisters, should not be just taken for granted. It must be worked at, but realize that you can have the kind of marriage that you earnestly desire and for which you are willing to work. Marriage will require giving and taking; it will mean sharing, because life was meant to be shared. A happy and successful marriage means forgetting oneself and thinking of ways in which to make one’s companion happy. It might be well each day for the husband to think, “What can I do today to make Mary happy?” And Mary should say to herself, “What can I do today to make John happy?” A happy Home is where the wife is treated like a queen and the husband is treated like a king. And so, it is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner (Henry D. Taylor, “Thou Shalt Love Thy Wife with All Thy Heart,” Oct. 1973 General Conference).
So, yes, I agree with Anton Chekhov that being in love—truly seasoned and time-tested love—represents our “normal state,” and shows us the people we were meant to be. Love shows all.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.