Love In a Bubble

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This is a story of how my husband and I almost didn't happen and what I've learned since…When I first met "G," I was over-the-moon for him. I knew I loved him within two weeks of our dating, though I didn't say it out-loud for a while. I remember being scared and excited at the intensity of my feelings for him. As is typical of the "honeymoon phase," I fantasized about him and our potential future together endlessly. I even made him various, cheesy gifts to show him my affection – a collection of love songs on CD, a list of all the things I loved about him, etc., etc. Nauseating, I know, but such is young love.

Things progressed and it was during the next two years prior to our engagement that we really learned about each other – our ticks, nuances, ambitions, passions. I also learned something else, something I consider very, very important: that I had to put my relationship in a bubble. You see, I used to believe that love was really like a fairy tale, that once you found the person you wished to spend the rest of your life with, you needn't worry about life interrupting. I knew that love wasn't always easy, sure – that marriage and weathering the years of bills, babies, and stressors would take some work. But I suppose I felt that none of it would really touch us. There were no really scary stressors or temptations. Like water off a duck's back, we'd just put in our time, a little bit of effort, and keep on swimmin', still very much in love. How naive I was.

A large part of "G's" and my courtship was long-distance as I attended college seven hours south of where he lived and worked. Six months in, I remained head-over-heels for him and I remember thinking one night as my roommates partied next door with some guys we knew, "What could be the harm in having a drink with friends?" I called a close friend and we headed over where the festivities were in full swing. That was the first night I learned to beer bong, repeatedly. By the end of the night, everyone was either passed out or paired off in bedrooms except one guy and me. His name started with a "W" though I don't remember exactly what it was and he had caught my eye the year before when were freshmen. He was tall, handsome, and witty, and he laid the charm on pretty heavy that night despite my telling him I had a boyfriend. I suppose he thought he stood a good chance given we were both completely drunk.

So, there we were – off in a corner, just the two of us, while he told me how pretty my red lips were (which I still chuckle at since they were chapped to hell…that's what you see when you've got beer goggles on). Oh, and did I mention that I sat there shirtless except my bra because earlier that night someone had the bright idea to dance around topless (it was like a bikini top after all, right?!). I was being wooed by this guy and at the same time, struggling to retain some practical state-of-mind. I kept screaming inwardly, "I have a boyfriend I really love and I shouldn't be here!"

The next day, I told "G" everything and then proceeded to drive seven hours straight to his doorstep, surprising him at 1 a.m., so that he wouldn't break up with me. Thank God I did. Nothing happened between "W" and I that night but I did learn that very important lesson – to put my relationship in a bubble, to protect it. I learned that no matter how much you believe you love someone, you can make a mistake and throw a wrench in the whole damn thing if you're not careful. Feelings can only take you so far. I had to make the commitment, the conscious decision to truly take care of my relationship. And I wanted to protect it from the future, inevitable demands of careers, parenthood, money, and marital strife. I couldn't just assume, as I did before, that life would move aside and allow love through.

I know stories of infidelity are commonplace now. Maybe this one , in which I didn't even go through with it, won't make any eyebrows raise. A nineteen-year-old who almost cheated on her boyfriend while she was away at college? Big deal. For me, however, the decision to leave "W" sitting in the corner and stumble home was huge. "G" is the love on my life, the father of my children. Nothing I have now would have been possible without him. I make decisions every day to protect what we have and to take the safest, most productive, and most nurturing route for our marriage. And I plan to keep walking on it as long as we both shall live.

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