A Lighter View … Love: from lust to rust

I’ve been in love with my husband, Wayne, since I was 17. After a two-week courtship, he proposed, and I accepted. Now normally I take more than two weeks just to pick out a paper towel pattern, but he had a glint in his eyes that made me melt whenever I looked at him.

Our life together has taught me that love is unexplainable, unpredictable, and often unromantic. It goes through stages, changing in appearance just like we do, and there are more varieties of love than divas at a cat show.

During our first year of marriage, we experienced what I call “lusty love.” This is where an irresistible attraction keeps your marriage going by clouding your vision and impairing your judgment. Without lusty love, no couple could survive past the first month. Trust me; if I had realized it was going to take 30 years to train my husband to use a coaster, I would’ve gotten a puppy instead.

We started off poor; our goal was to someday reach the poverty line. We owned a three-legged couch, a black and white TV stuck on mute, and a Studebaker Lark that shook so badly when you drove faster than 50 that your hands went numb. Thanks to lusty love, I thought I was in paradise.

I spent hours watching Wayne hit golf balls because we could only afford one bucket of balls, and he survived on a diet of burned macaroni because I didn’t know how to cook. Lusty love saved our marriage when I spent the rent money on shoes, and I credit it with saving Wayne’s life the night he blamed me for blowing up the Studebaker by turning on the radio.

No matter what happened, I was crazy about Wayne. I loved the way he walked around in his underwear, splattered toothpaste on the bathroom mirror and blew his nose like a starter pistol.

As we grew, a new form of love was added to our repertoire; something called “a labor of love.” We learned what this meant when we decided to start a family and were introduced to the world of infertility. This was not a fun place like Ikea or Marshall Field’s. Now, for the first time, we had to work together as a team, even when we didn’t feel like it.

Our relationship was dictated by charts, diagnostic procedures, and doctors. And our love life had all the charm of a prison lockup. Nothing says romance like reporting your progress to an entire medical team, or having your husband paged at a funeral and told that he’s got to report for duty at home, immediately.

With the birth of our daughter, we turned our focus to logical love. This meant going to Disneyland for vacation instead of the Poconos. The Jaguar was traded in for an armored vehicle, and the Led Zeppelin albums were replaced by educational toys that played soothing sounds of the ocean.

Going out as a couple became a distant memory. No one could pass my stringent standards for babysitting. Even my mother-in-law was questionable; she’d raised a son who pranced around the house in his underwear and had toothpaste “issues.”

By the third child, we were experiencing rusty love. I knew I still had a husband because there were fresh oil stains in the garage where he parked his car. Our lives were filled with the kids’ dance lessons, baseball practice, and hockey games. We communicated by leaving messages on the refrigerator or each other’s cell phone.

I quit wearing make-up and shaving my legs; there wasn’t time with my car pool schedule. I started wearing clothes for comfort instead of looks, and he just started wearing clothes.

Our quality time was spent comparing calendars while we sat in the waiting room at the orthodontist’s office, and intimate dinners consisted of riding together to a soccer game and picking up some tacos on the way. We still loved each other, but neglect had made us rusty.

Over the years, we’ve experienced a bond that has slowly turned into a trusting love. We started with broken-down furniture and fought over shoes and cars. We learned to work together and not be too busy for each other. We discovered life is a gift and time is precious.

We finish each other’s sentences and can predict each other’s response. I make him happy, and he makes me laugh. I know what hurts him, and he knows what makes me cry. I remember the names of his favorite sports teams, and he remembers important dates. I know that if I ever needed him, he’d be there, and he knows that he will always be my hero.

After 30 years, I still melt when I see that glint in his eyes.

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