My fourteen-year-old asked me this question again just last week. Up ’til now, my answer has always been a resounding YES. I knew that she just wanted reassurance, since we regularly enjoy a PG rated makeout in front of the girls while they roll their eyes and pretend to be annoyed. But this time I felt like she was ready for a more mature and, hopefully, more helpful answer.
Dating is around the corner for her. My focus is shifting from reassuring her that our family is secure to giving her the tools she will need to build her own successful marriage someday. It would be a disservice to her to let her believe that the reason my husband and I are still together after nearly nineteen years of marriage is because we are still “in love”.
“Not exactly, baby. What Daddy and I have goes much deeper than just the feeling of in-love-ness. We choose to not only love each other, but admire and respect each other, take care of each other, and be good friends. We’ve built a life, a home, and a family together. The butterflies in my tummy were really fun, and God used them to draw us together, but it’s not what makes our marriage last. Those feelings come and go. Our relationship is much stronger than that, and what we have now is WAY better.”
Not romantic enough for you? Sorry. I can’t afford to let my daughters believe that a lifelong commitment is based on something as unreliable as a feeling. What a helpless position to be in! I love my relationship with my husband; it is precious to me. Somedays it comes easy and we laugh and flirt and feel incredibly connected. Other days it’s harder and we choose to love with kind words and preferring the other based on our convictions. Is the future of our marriage in trouble on those days? Of course not. That is what I want my daughters to see in this next season. They don’t need to keep checking in to see if we are still in love. Our commitment to one another, before the Lord, is safe and secure because of the people we choose to be, and the investment we choose to make in our bond.
I know that I cannot make her understand how valuable something can become once you have fought for it. When you have cried over it, thought it was dead, kicked the tires, called for help, wrestled with hope, and thrown everything you have back into it one more time — there is no way she could appreciate that at fourteen. She has yet to experience what having something precious truly is, how you forsake many lesser things in order to keep it safe and sound, how your definition of love keeps expanding. I know she won’t understand it, but I am going to keep telling her about it. So when that day comes when the roller coaster ride of early love and bliss comes to a screeching halt and that voice says to exit to the left, she won’t freak out and start looking for the next ride. I hope she will take her husband by the hand, give him a wink, and they will walk into the next beautiful season of life together.
A portion of this article originally appeared on www.catchandreleaseparenting.com/blog
Photo by (and of) Stephanie Brubaker