When Defining Love, Relationships, and a Poem’s Meaning
I wrote a poem the other day. I do that a lot lately — write poems when I should be working on my next romance book. My poetry is mainly about love, though I have penned plenty of sensual poems and my fair share of witch-related verse. However, when I went back to edit this one particular poem, Happily Ever After, it struck me as being a bit condescending. After considering what I should do, I changed a few lines and submitted the poem anyway.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
So much of the poetry I read is about the loss of love, the ache of new-love or wrong-love, the addiction to love, the lack of self-love, and the old favorite…unrequited love. My own perspective of seasoned-love feels a little out of step with the times. But as writers, we must write what we know.
I’ve been fortunate enough to love and be loved by one man for over two decades. The love we experienced at our beginning is not the same as it is today. It can’t possibly be the same. We’ve raised a child and been homeless. We’ve weathered extra-marital temptations and thoughts of walking away. There were the difficult-years of being partners in business and watching that business fail. The bankrupcies and financial recoveries, both self-inflicted and externally inflicted. Recently, my husband has been working in an entirely different country for weeks at a time and I’ve had to readjust to living alone — something I hadn’t done for over 30 years. We adjusted to having a child early in our relationship, sending that child to college, and then welcoming that grown adult back home.
Loving each other is different now because we’re different and we have so much history between us. We’ve changed each other by staying together, by sharing a life filled to the brim with ups and downs.
So, when I pen a poem about the nature of love, it’s from a perspective of knowing how much effort it takes to remain together over the long haul. How you have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable until you and your partner reach the next plateau. Love isn’t static. It’s always changing. There’s grief in that, but there’s also something thrilling about it too.
I didn’t understand any of this when my parents tried to dissuade me from my first marriage. I was twenty-four and no one was going to tell me I didn’t know my own mind.
I divorced my first husband five years later after a chance meeting with my current husband. On that fateful day, I had a flash of insight. I suddenly understood what my parents (who had been married then for as long as I have been married now) had tried so hard to explain to me. You can love lots of potential partners, but there are a few perfect fits wandering the world and you owe it to yourself to find them. Once you meet each other, there will still be relationship-work to do as time passes, but the core of him and you will provide something to hold on to when the ground shifts beneath your feet.
When my son went off to college and I was worried about what my marriage would look like once the nest was empty. Our dynamic had been three for so long I wasn’t sure if my husband and I could figure out how to be a couple again. Luckily, I received some of the very best relationship advice I’d ever gotten from a close friend in my writer’s group. She’s in her sixties, retired, and has been married far longer than myself — and, I was receptive to what she had to tell me.
She said, “Speak to each other from a place of kindness. Even when it’s hard.”
OMG! So simple and yet it’s the hardest advice I have ever implemented. But it has also been the most impactful. It has transformed all my relationships, not just my marriage.
Approach every situation from a place of kindness and love. That doesn’t mean become a doormat for others to walk on. Setting hard limits is important with friends and with your significant other. That too is a form of love…self-love.
So when I write…
Too often we rush to the Ever After
in our white gowns, not knowing the way.
It is in all the best of stories we are told
Happily is just assumed,
payment for our vows rendered.
And so we also lose the Ever in our After.
But the magick we seek isn’t straight forward,
and the destination is not the goal.
The secret of Happily rests in the beginnings,
in the mundane moments exchanged.
It is in the decades of holding hands
and overlooking the Prince’s discarded socks —
It is the reward for repeating the I love yous
despite wanting to win the fight,
the righteous anger
and knowing him far far too well.
It lives in kindness that only blooms
in the straightening of each other’s crowns.
Happily Ever After cannot be reached before,
but only in the glancing behind —
when the dust has settled and life slows
When softness is the way of living
there is no more rushing —
and only time to relive the beginnings.
It’s because I have loved and been loved for decades by a man who adores me and has chosen to stay beside me no matter what the future brings. And I have done the same — stayed and loved. I’m not in my twenties, thirties, or forties anymore. I’ve lived through all that drama and somehow reached the other side still holding his hand.
A seasoned-love is what I know. It has shaped me and my writing. That’s my perspective.
Similar Love Poems I’ve published on Medium.