Besides kicking off this month with a “very big birthday” (I’ll let you use your imagination), February always prompts me to analyze love – what we think it is, what it really is and how it morphs into something unexpected once marriage, kids and all of life’s dips and valleys hit it.
As someone stepping into a new decade of life, I’m learning that love is certainly not what I thought it was.
With age, love gets a whole lot more real. It changes and can feel invisible at times, even though it’s still there.
How’s this for breaking news: My husband and I argue from time to time.
One fight stands out to me beyond the rest – it’s the one that got me thinking about what love is this time last year. It erupted in front of our daughters on a Sunday morning before we could stop it, with me standing in my bathroom getting ready to go to church.
We yelled. We counter-pointed each other. I may have cried. My husband may have felt hurt. My girls ran up and hugged me when my tears came. And then one of them broke off to go hug Daddy because she noticed no one was hugging him.
It was an argument that most (let’s be real, ALL) married couples have. Nothing permanently damaging but still significant. I didn’t talk to my spouse for almost a week after that fight. I was angry and hurt (he was, too). I didn’t want to talk (neither did he).
We communicated logistics for family schedules like, “What time are you home?” and “Will you be able to take the girls to school Friday morning?” but not much else. No “Good morning”s. No “Have a nice day”s.
We even went to a party with our kids, still mad at each other and acted as though everything was peachy keen without actually talking to each other – not sure if any of the other guests noticed.
At some point, my younger daughter aggressively informed me that Cupid was going to come and shoot my husband and me with his arrow to make us fall in love again. My older daughter drew the scene in her notebook so we could have a visual.
I laughed but also felt so sad.
“We still love each other, girls,” I told them. “We just got angry – like how you get when you two disagree over which one of your dolls should wear what.” They got it.
Six days later, our February war was over. I decided to stop being stubborn and get over it. We’re married. We’re parents. Time to move on. We have children who don’t like seeing Mommy and Daddy avoiding each other.
Enough was enough, so I started talking. Maybe my attitude change had something to do with our impromptu no-kids date night later that week, which reminded me that we really do love each other.
We soon returned to saying “Good morning” and “How was your day?”
Real love is beyond the wedding, the baby births, the red and pink heart-shaped cards.
Real love is accepting the reality that you will most likely argue, hurt each other’s feelings, yell, not talk for a week and then shut down all communication because you need mental space and time to recover.
Real love is then revealed by taking a deep breath and getting over whatever it was that irritated you.
Real love is appreciating what you have, knowing that you love each other (and that all married couples argue). Real love is learning how to move forward so that our kids understand how to love, disagree, forgive and repeat without fear.
And isn’t that what we all really want – real love? Yes. Real love.
Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and is creator of TheFabMom.com. Her book for pregnant moms, “The FAB Mom’s Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby“ is available now. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram @jillsimonian.