I recently read a blog in which the question was posed: “in a relationship, what is love like after five years?” Since I have been with Mark for almost nine years, I can not really speak to what love is like after five years. I can, however, tell you what love is like, for me, at nine years. It is all contained in one word: abiding.
Abiding is defined as unceasing, enduring or imperishable. In long-term relationships, there is a merging of two distinct individuals. The media likes to create couple-names like Bennifer, Brangelina, and Tomkat. However ridiculous this sounds, it does have a ring of truth: two become one. It becomes difficult to separate the two people: we are Mark and David. When you throw into the mix nine years of inside jokes, shared experiences, and battled compromises, you get a functioning duet. Have you ever heard of a long-term couple that ends their relationship, but continue to have some endearing love for the other person? Of course! Why? Because after being with another person for so long, love becomes abiding.
In my current experience, love is something different from the amorous attraction of first dates or the thrill of a first kiss. No, Mark is a part of me. In the whole of humanity, there is not one single person who knows me as well as he. I depend on him and, in that, I trust him fully. I rest in him. I abide in him. The love we share transcends the daily flux of emotions, work, and home. There are irritations and bickering. Hell, we sometimes have some good old fashion arguments. However, at the end of the day, I stay right where I am because there is no other place I would rather be. Even when tensions are high and we might not particularly like each other, we are still together in love.
How is abiding developed? The simple answer is time. It takes time to get beyond the fantasies we hold in our mind about love, sex and growing old. It takes time to experience the other person so fully that you can finish sentences. It takes time to grow so close that, even across distance, you know how the other is doing. Time: that is what you have to invest. That is where abiding develops.
But abiding, for me, holds further qualities. If you look at the word abiding, it tells a story. “A” is Alpha, a beginning. Everyday is a new beginning and there are new obstacles and oases in the journey. Each day brings with it the chance to move deeper and closer to the person with whom you are traveling. The next part of the word, “bid,” looks like a small conference. The “b” and “d” are chairs, with “I” (me), in the middle. Here, I am resting in a place of open communication. The open, honest communication is the heart of any relationship. How can you abide in a place of distrust? You can not. The “ing” is where things get interesting. In English grammar, verbs ending with “ing” are usually in the present continuous tense. To abide in a relationship, you are present. You are ready for anything that comes your way. But, there is a need for consistent application: it is continuous. If you are present one day, but not the next, you are effectively sending mixed signals, confusion and are not abiding.
Beyond this, at nine years, the love I have for Mark is always present. It changes as we change: it deepens and calms. It is wonderful! We not just two people who have chosen to live together and share our lives: that is a roommate. We are partners. It is so much more than I can put into words. I tried, but I doubt I did it justice.
Maybe love like this is only to be experienced and not explained.