This coming weekend is an unusual one for me: I’m divorced twice and it’s the anniversary of both my marriages, one on the 30th July and the other on the 31st July. I actually couldn’t tell you which was which anymore without looking them up.
I married the first time in 1993. I had just turned 22. We divorced in 2000. Both my marriage and divorce were in England and it’s from this relationship that I gained my niece and two nephews in Australia (as my ex-husband’s sister emigrated there in 1999). We’re a well-travelled family as my niece was born in Norway, my oldest nephew in England and my youngest nephew in Australia!
My second marriage was to an American, though we lived in Canada. We married in 2004 and divorced in 2007. I gained children through this relationship. Though my older two step-children were adults and independent by the time their father and I married, I was close with the third and youngest child and while he is an adult now, having just turned 24 yesterday, we remain in contact.
Thankfully, due to Ontario’s complicated rules on re-marriage, I didn’t marry my last partner so I didn’t make it a hat-trick! We lived together for just over a year, December 2014 – March 2015.
Bizarrely to re-marry in Ontario I would need to get a legal opinion verifying that my English divorce was on grounds that would be legally valid in Ontario and submit that to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for permission to marry. As I had an English divorce and a Canadian divorce, and my last partner was also divorced, but in the US, we would both have needed to submit this paperwork in order to marry. He never got round to sorting out his paperwork from his divorce to be able to do this, so we didn’t marry but lived together instead. A lack of action that I really should have paid more attention to.
Thinking about these anniversaries a number of thoughts come to mind:
- For somebody who grew up never intending to get married, ever, I didn’t manage to keep that resolve very well! In hindsight, I would have done well to have kept to it!
- I might need the lesson repeating, but I do learn faster each time!
- Despite my best efforts at not repeating cycles, I still did.
- While I try to live my life with no regrets and know that I made the best decision I could at the time, the one lesson that I have really learned is that “love is an action, not just a feeling”.
There are all sorts of pieces of advice about marriage and relationships. From the simple ‘ Marry your best friend’, to the more profound ‘Beauty fades’.
However, I think that the biggest sign that there is something very, very wrong with that relationship is when you find yourself lonely and struggling through difficult times on your own while being in a relationship.
Ideally, you’d have recognised that long before you are dealing with major issues and have worked together to address the issues.
However, what this speaks to is that, to me, love is more than just the feeling. It’s more than the physical and emotional attraction. It’s a choice.
It’s always putting the toilet seat down or putting the toilet paper on the holder a specific way.
It’s going to that hockey game that you really don’t understand because he enjoys it, knowing that a different day he’ll attend that theatre event with you. On both occasions enjoying the event, because you’re sharing it, rather than making sarcastic comments or asides throughout.
It’s choosing to hold your tongue when provoked.
Making coffee the way he likes it, or tea the way she does.
For me, being loved was my partner filling my car with gas. Not because I can’t do it, but simply because I don’t like to do it.
It was my making cookies by the dozen and keeping the cookie jar full at all times.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that to me it is the simple things that make all the difference. The little things that matter.
When I stop to think about it, they’re all actions.
So much attention is paid to love as a feeling that I wondered if I was alone in this thought that love is an action. Then I remembered that a few years ago there was quite a lot of excitement about a book that was published about the 5 Love Languages.
Dr. Gary Chapman developed a quiz that helps individuals identify how they best feel loved:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
By identifying how you feel loved and the differences between that and how your partner feels loved Dr. Chapman suggests that relationships can be radically improved and changed.
When reading about all 5 of these languages of love I noticed that just as I had identified for myself, all of them are based on actions.
So love is an action.
It’s a choice.
For some, like the couple in this video, it’s the grand gesture, for others (more like me) it’s the small day to day actions that make all the difference. I love the demonstration of love by this man, for his wife with MS.
Personally, I’d be mortified if anybody did this for me but her reaction shows that not only did he take action to show her just how much he loves her, and appreciates her, on their anniversary but that he also recognised her ‘love language’ and spoke to her in her language.
So while I’m currently single, and plan to stay that way until, and unless, I meet the one who passes the ‘Ocean Test’, for those of you in relationships or dating I have this advice for you:
Think about that moment when you are at your worst when your hair is a mess, your clothes are sweaty, you feel like death and you’re temper is short. Who will be by your side in that moment? Who will choose to love you in that moment? Who will you choose to love when they’re at their worst?
Love is an action, not just a feeling.