Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Simple Love Like That

Dear Son and Friend,

I was listening to a song by Alison Krauss yesterday. I do enjoy her music. Is it bluegrass, folk, some kind of country? Whatever it is, I like it. She sang a ballad entitled Simple Love. Click that link to see the full lyrics.

But here is the gist of it, she describes her grandfather and his love for his family and wishes:
I want a simple love like that,
Always giving never asking back.
When I'm in my final hour looking back
I hope I had a simple love like that.
That is a great lyric.

But, as I think about it, is that what I believe about love? Yes and no. I believe that lyric describes the beauty of a wonderful friendship. Friendship can and should be pretty openhanded, not asking too much. A nice friendship can operate uncommittedly, without demands. In a friendship, you can love, and give, and never ask back. In a friendship, if one person gives and the other does not, well, that's ok. The giving friend can either continue giving or stop. And that's ok. The definitions are loose. The love described in this song, is lovely. I envision a hand reaching out unclasped and another hand lying on top, supported but ungrasped. And if those two hands stay together for a long time. That is beautiful. And when I reach my final hour, I do hope that I can say, I've had some simple loves like that.

But let's talk about love in family and marriage. Does this lyric describe that kind of love in a healthy way? I have to say no. Marriage to me is a commitment to more than a simple love.

It is a promise of an extremely complicated and growing kind of love, not always asking, but sometimes asking, not always giving back, but as much as possible, giving back. The picture I have in my mind is of two hands grasping, clutching, holding on for dear life. Not a light touch, or a quick high five, but a desperate measure that withstands the wrenches and pulls of a mighty difficult tempest of a world.

When I was deciding to marry, one of the things that I considered was whether I could fight with that person, knock down, drag out, and come out the other side still holding on for dear life. Plus I wanted a person to whom I could go and say, "I need," with the confidence that he would say, "I care." And, I wanted to become a person to whom my spouse could come at the worst of times and say, "Help!" and I would be there to help. It isn't completely selfless, like Krauss would have us believe her grandfather was, but, I think it makes for a marriage that is a partnership.

My husband, (Dad to you) and I have endured some difficult times--illness, stress, financial crisis, junk--and at those times, a simple love did not get us through, but a complicated one did, one that was codependent and exhaustive, a love that asked and gave back, that gave and asked back.

I wish you that kind of love and a long life of giving, and taking.



cadh 8 said...

Very good post. It is so true that things worth having are worth giving something of your self to get. Things that are free tend to become things with no value. There is little value to the love that an abused woman gives to her abuser. It is not "a beautiful selfless love" because she has no expectations for her own treatment. No, it is instead a sick and twisted things that hurts them both. Real love does come with expectations. This does not mean we shape those we love into what we want. That would be the crushing grip of one person dragging another. But we must have expectations.
I once heard a speaker say, "I must say I love you to my wife, but not because I must". Essentially, he had to say that he loved her not out of duty, but out of the truth of that love. She required it, not because she wanted to hear those words in that order, but the feeling was an integral part of their relationship.
To close this comment, when one finds the person that is "the one" for lack of a better way of saying it, those requirements become a joy. The yolk is easy, the burden is light. I rub my husband's back every day. Sometimes I am tired, sometimes he wakes me up to do it, sometimes I don't want to, I admit. And I don't think he would divorce me if I refused. But his back gives him pain. And if I refused, then I would be allowing him to suffer...I would be putting myself first, and not loving him. For him to not expect such an action from me would be for him not to expect me to love him. What good would that do for us? And the reverse is true for me as well. It is that mutual give and take that makes our relationship vibrant and whole. Yes, WHOLE is the word. Balanced, of value, good. We need to give, we need to take. We are hand in hand, going on a path together, sometimes leading sometimes following, sometimes strolling side by side.

Anyway, this is all probably obvious to most who have ever loved someone for a long time. But I liked the way you put your comments.

brd said...

In 1970 there was a book then a movie called Love Story. A quote from that was very popular, but, in my mind, very untrue. "Love means you never have to say you're sorry." I think that the reverse is more true. "Love means you are quick to say you are sorry." And you are quick to forgive. Perhaps, love means you forgive before your loved one has a chance to say they are sorry, but they still say it.

Cadh8, you have a wonderful marriage because you understand both selflessness and responsibility, sacrifice and expectation.

Yes, as you said. Balance.

Carla said...

Beautiful, Betsy.

brd said...