That is what a friend said about he and his new bride, “We are learning to love each other.” For years there has been an acknowledged phenomenon in the adoption community where parents realize it takes awhile for them to fall in love with their newly adopted children. Truth be told, the same is true for parents of the children born of their own bodies. Truth be told again, the same is true of lovers who become husbands and wives.
I remember the early days when Joseph and I were newlyweds. There were times he felt like more of a stranger to me than he did when we were dating and newly in love. How can that be? I think there is something in the constraints of the legal bond that cause you to periodically and instinctively turn away from your beloved and ask, “Did I do the right thing? Should we have really gotten married? Is it going to be all right?”
All kinds of things can force you to make this momentary turn away from your beloved. A disagreement about the best hour for bedtime, the sound of a burp, rubbing the feet together upon waking, his or her need to process the past, a habit you never saw before, a lack of focus on the present or future, etc. Depending on how your body and mind manage the thing that turns you away from your beloved, it can be a momentary glitch or turn into an argument with hurt feelings that lasts for days. You can either ignore it, turn it into a bit of fussing, or make it a crisis that has you both questioning whether or not you should have ever fallen in love, much less gotten married.
The trick and the magic come not with how you handle it in the moment but with whether or not you decide to turn back towards your beloved and make the commitment all over again. The movement to turn back towards each other is the marriage builder.
There is no such thing as happily ever after. And while some couples may have more relationship compatibility than others, every couple goes through seasons of lack of assurance that they should be in this thing together. Every couple experiences moments of turning away from the beloved, resulting in a choice of whether or not to turn back around. It is in the return to the commitment of this thing called married love that allows us to learn how to love each other more deeply, with greater intimacy, and with a stronger commitment.