I still remember the first time we met. I was at a friend’s house and you unexpectedly showed up. You introduced yourself, and slowly everything else fell away. We were still talking long after everyone had left and the hosts had gone to bed. I remember thinking, “This guy is really cool.”
The second time we bumped into each other was at an engagement party. I knew you’d been invited and I took extra care with my appearance that day. But when a few hours had gone by and you didn’t show, I felt a rising wave of disappointment. When you finally made an appearance and you walked right up to me, I could hear my heart thrumming loudly in my ears.
Long, drawn-out dinners have been replaced with rushed meals, tantrums, and bath times.
In those early days of our courtship, every text you sent me would leave me smiling from ear to ear. Now, when I get a text from you, it’s occasionally met with a sigh of exasperation or an eye roll. Long, drawn-out dinners have been replaced with rushed meals, tantrums, and bath times. Our conversations are interrupted a million times, invariably leading us to say, “I’ll tell you later.” But later is often forgotten, and when it isn’t, it’s at the end of the day when our kids are finally in bed and our interest has waned, giving way to fatigue. “We’ll talk tomorrow,” we reason. Just like a wind-up toy, we repeatedly bump into the same wall.
As our attention shifts from one another to the kids we are raising together, it’s hard to remember that I loved you first. But before them, there was you and me. There were lazy days, spontaneous trips, marathon TV nights, and contented silences. Back then, we were obnoxiously in love.
It’s not that I love you less, but there are now two little humans that have taken up residence in my heart, and they’re taking a lot of space. So much so that you’ve been pushed to the back. Because of them, you often get the last of me. And while that may be acceptable in this season of our lives, one day it might not be.
Before them, there was you and me. There were lazy days, spontaneous trips, marathon TV nights, and contented silences.
I can’t help but wonder if, down the line, our weekly date nights, stolen kisses, and wavering attention will still be able to withstand the pressure of the daily chaos of our lives. Will we still try to have meaningful conversations if they inevitably end with a to-do list? Will we still reach for each other at night when our desire has often been tampered by fatigue? Or will date nights be replaced with group outings when contented silences have turned into an uncomfortable lull in the conversation?
Tiredness and kids aren’t the only things that have caused us to stumble. I know there have been times when I’ve taken my frustration and anger out on you when it was myself I was really frustrated and angry with. I’ve pointed fingers outwards rather than inwards. I’ve put insanely unfair expectations on you, holding you responsible for making me feel pretty, happy, enough. And while it pains me to admit it, I know that there were times when I’ve highlighted your weaknesses while expecting you to pointedly ignore mine.
And yet, when I feel like I’m unravelling, you’re the only one I want to see me fall apart. When you laugh at my jokes, I feel like I’ve won something. When you make our kids crack up, it tugs at my heartstrings. When I tell you my ideas and you encourage me to go for them, I feel wholly supported. When you absentmindedly touch me whenever you are near, I feel cherished.
I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.
And so, when life gets the best of us, when things don’t go according to plan or we find ourselves in uncharted waters, the words of Kiersten White always come to mind: “I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.”
Let’s promise to never stop trying. Let’s commit to letting our relationship take the front seat more often. Let’s regale each other with the stories we wanted to share even when we are too tired to get into them. Let’s continue to carve out one quiet moment for ourselves in every one of our crazy days. Let’s not forget to see each other, but when we do, let’s remember that we loved each other first. And we love each other still.
Love, Etc. is a column on love, life, and relationships by Najla Moussa.