Everything I Know About Love I Learned From My Separation

Britt and JaredI’m writing this on the morning of my 14th wedding anniversary. Every year on this date I say a little prayer of thanks, because we almost didn’t make it here.

I’ve finally learned how to replace my guilt with gratitude. That makes this day sweeter and easier to celebrate. But it doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten what it was like to almost lose this relationship.

I hope I never forget what I learned about love from almost getting divorced.

Love is a choice.

They say you can’t choose who you love, and maybe that’s true – but you can definitely choose to keep loving. And if you want to stay married, you have to. You can’t count on hormones or destiny or some mystical force that binds characters together in romance novels.

Love is a choice I get to make every single day.

I remember the moment I decided to keep loving Jared. It was as if the fog lifted and all my confusion and resistance just evaporated. I realized how much power I had to make things right, and to make things good.

Love is not universal.

We like to simplify love. We water it down into something you just feel, something everyone gets, something you can spot in a YouTube video.

But it’s not that simple.

Love that connects people comes in many languages and dialects. It’s shared through words, gifts, time, touch, and service.

You have to learn your own language and the language of your partner. You have to be both teacher and student. You have to keep practicing and always remembering that what you say may not be heard if you stick to your own language.

Love does not keep score.

This is one of the few things about love the movies get right. Love moves on; it’s part of that continual choice.

I used to think that Jared and I would only have to get past the big hurts, the big apologies. If we could forgive each other those, marriage would be simple.

But we keep screwing up. We are late, we forget to call, we snap and snarl and say things we shouldn’t.

And we let go. We wipe the slate clean again and again, because that’s the only way we can feel safe enough to really connect.

Love is terrifying.

I’ve been married for 14 years and I’ve known my husband for 22 years, and sometimes it still scares the crap out of me to let him see me.

It scares me when I have to admit that I’m feeling needy. It scares me when I have to tell him I’m hurt. It scares me when I have to tell him what I want from him, knowing he might say no.

It scares me when he doesn’t want to talk, because I can’t make him. And that reminds me that a big part of my life and my happiness depends on a person I can’t control.


Some days I think loving is the bravest thing any person has ever done.

Love evolves.

Love is a connection between two people, and people change. That love has to keep changing if it’s going to stay tied up.

I’ve noticed people rarely grow at the same rate or in exactly the same direction. Our marriage seems to be a constant dance with us moving towards and away from each other. The distant times are painful, but they inspire me to move closer.

The cheek-to-cheek times make it worth it.

It helps me to remember this constant movement. It helps me to have faith, to keep wiping the slate, to keep showing up even when I fear he can’t see me anymore.

It reminds me to savor the really good times.

Love is worth it.

I learned to let go of my romanticized notions of what love looked like. I learned that Romeo and Juliet, who share an anniversary with us, were more tragic than admirable – and Scarlet O’Hara is no great role model either.

But with every pretty-on-the-surface thing I let go of, and with every hard lesson I took in, I also discovered that real, lasting, steadfast, day-in-day out love is so much better than what they show us in the movies.

To be seen and chosen on good days and bad, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse – that is worth all the work.

Happy Anniversary, Jared. I’m so glad I get to do the work with you. xo

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  1. Glori Surban says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    What an inspiring post! It both scares and excites me at the thought of falling in love. :)
    Glori Surban’s most recent post: 22 Quick Habits to Add to Your Daily Morning Routine

  2. Megan says:

    These are the kinds of things it’s helpful to know in the beginning, especially when you are a child of divorce. I can think of a whole lot of other ones too.
    Megan’s most recent post: Bright Spot

  3. Congrats, and happy anniversary to y’all!
    father muskrat’s most recent post: mardi gras 2014

  4. Sheila says:

    Happy Anniversary!!!! XOXO

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