At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.
~ Plato (424/423 – 348/347 BCE)

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about love. One of my nieces is getting married next month and just days before her wedding, my husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

Twenty-five years.

That’s hard to get my mind around because I don’t feel old enough to have been married that long. And I’m fairly certain neither one of us likes to think of ourselves as “middle-aged.” Ugh.

Some of the loveliest memories I have of our “courtship” are the poems my sweetie wrote for me. Poems full of passion and beauty and dreams.Today, I know, the poetry of true love is all that–and more. It is also full of sorrow, anger, and disappointment. It is full of forgiveness. It is full of time. And, after 25 years, I know it is full of laughter. Laughter is one thing that we’re really good at.

It’s amazing to think we’re still together when so many of our friends’ marriages did not survive. At one point, as I was sharing a bottle of wine (or two) with three of my friends whose marriages were in some stage of dissolution one of them asked me how we managed to stay together and how we appeared to be so happy. “Low expectations,” I answered.

And I was only half kidding.

Marriage is hard and I’ll be the first one to admit I’ve made ours harder. But the key, in my humble opinion, is to have realistic expectations of what it’s really like to live (and in our case work) together with the same person day in and day out. Lust comes and goes. Passion can burn one day and fade the next. Children (as much as you love them) make demands of time, attention, and money. Work interferes. Age takes its toll. Shared interests change. Dreams go unfulfilled. So the best thing that can be said about the man/woman to whom you pledge your troth is that you like them.

Respect and genuine affection for someone can get you over some steep hills and out of some deep holes. Indeed, for my money the true measure of lasting love is mutual respect and shared laughter.

So, while my sweetie wrote poems for me at the beginning of our relationship. Here’s one for him. (Disclaimer: I wrote this a couple of years ago…and no one has ever called me a great poet.)

An autumn chill arrived today
wrapping eager arms
around my shoulders, chafing
my toes with rough fingers,
sending me upstairs for that old
nubby sweater you bought me
that day at the shore when
wind whipped waves danced
at our feet, salt spray kissed
our tongues, and we retreated
inside under the covers and I
think of you now and smile.