“When you find someone who can make you laugh. Smile. Grow. Lust. Want. Crave. Feel. Make you mad but happy. Keep that. That’s euphoria.” ~ Unknown
There is a difference between the person we can see ourselves marrying and the person we can envision growing old with.
At one time, my definition was so simplistic that I didn’t realize that there was more than one way to love—and more than one style of growing together through life’s challenges.
To many of us, marriage is the point of relationships—if we can’t picture marrying someone, then we don’t have a future.
But what if there is something beyond marriage?
A love so complex that the only thought we have while looking in someone’s eyes is that we can picture growing old with them.
As we are all evolving on our quest for authenticity, many of us are looking beyond the white dress to what truly defines sharing our lives with another—and exactly what “forever” means.
I used to not believe in forever. There was a time after my divorce when I shied away from using that word. I talked myself into having a skeptical heart because of my past hurts, not realizing that I was carrying my wounds with me out of fear.
Yet, regardless of if we are meant to truly be monogamous our entire lives, I do believe that there are some connections—and types of love—that truly can last forever.
However, the reality is that sometimes we find forever in the most unlikely of places.
There have been two times in my life when I thought, “I’m going to marry this man,” while being held in his arms. The first ended in divorce, and the second (thankfully) never progressed to the point of “I do”—because in the acute vision that retrospection allows, I realize now that these people I could see myself marrying were only people who seemed easy to fit into my life.
They were the ones who completed my perfect picture and made it satisfying for those who would glimpse upon it. Yet with neither of these men did I ever think, “I could picture growing old with you.” I never imagined how it’d look when we were older and never thought about what life might be like for us decades from now.
These men were people who completed the white dress fantasy, but not men who I could see getting down and dirty with me in this life for years to come.
I had thought though that this was normal, and that if I could picture marrying someone—well, then we were meant to be together.
But all of that came crashing down to the ground when I actually looked at a man and didn’t see him for his youthful sensuality, but I saw him older, graying and with small wrinkles breaking out around his eyes from the years spent laughing by my side.
I realized that this man destroyed all of the illusions I had held about relationships, and instead, he presented a whole new set of standards through which I could explore love.
Suddenly, investigating love and the possibility of a relationship didn’t have to do with marriage at all, but instead with the moments that come from just spending time together.
There wasn’t an end point or a goal—there was just us, and the feeling that there would never be enough time for me to get my fill of this man.
As I looked at him, I knew that there was something special cooking—electrifying the summer air around us—and that just maybe it was a type of love that had been set into motion lifetimes before we ever met in this one.
I knew that he was special, and that the connection we had together could never be replicated again.
The thing is that when we cross paths with someone who we can look at and know we would have their back through the years, regardless of what may transpire—and who we know we could never quite kiss enough—then we also realize that there is something beyond just saying “I do.”
It’s saying “I will”—today, tomorrow…and yes, forever.
This isn’t to say that sometimes we don’t get lucky and end up marrying the person who we can see ourselves growing old with—but rather that there is a difference, one that affects our entire mindset about the relationship and the age-old question of: “Exactly where is this heading?”
When we can see ourselves growing old with someone and know that in 10, 20 or even 30 years down the road, we’ll still burn with the same passion for them, we don’t have to define this type of love by giving it names.
Would I marry this man who I could see myself growing old with? Possibly, if that’s what we both feel is right at some point—but it will never be my goal.
Because whether I say “I do,” or not, won’t change the fact that I know what I feel for him today will still be there tomorrow—and even many moons from now.
I don’t care for him because he fulfills my image of a safe and acceptable life, nor do I need him to make my life look more desirable from the outside. Instead, I need him in my life because he drives me crazy in a way that no one else has sparked inside of me.
There isn’t a minute that I don’t want his lips against mine, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do within my capability to help him or to show him his place in my life.
I don’t want him here for only the fantasy of a wedding, but for the reality of sharing our lives with each other.
And maybe that is the only way we can know we have found our “forever.”