Think about it. When you met the love of your life (or someone you thought might become the love of your life) what made you think they were special? As time went on what confirmed this...or changed your mind? How did your own emotions lead your thoughts and actions? Anger, frustration, heartache, made you think again about how strong your relationship was? Love, happiness, emotional fulfillment, made you think the relationship was strong? A roller-coaster of emotions kept you changing your mind over and over?
It's not so black and white, is it? Because emotion isn't everything, there are so many factors in why a relationship makes it or fails.
I met my husband for the first time over the phone. But let me tell you about when we met face to face for the first time...because face to face meetings have so much more impact on whether a relationship takes off or not. We met at a park in Fresno. I had chosen a public meeting place because safety had been so instilled in me. I arrived first and waited for him. He was late and I was considering leaving, thinking I had been stood up. But then there he was. I watched him approaching me. I remember thinking he looked both nerdy and handsome. He was wearing a white button shirt and tie (I don't remember what color or design the tie was), and black slacks and shoes. His glasses were thick and a little outdated in style. He had a pen in his shirt pocket and was wearing a beeper on his belt.
He introduced himself and I was reminded of why I had agreed to meet him. He spoke well and had a voice and personality that just turned me on and relaxed me. He then apologized for being late and explained that he had been at work and couldn't leave until business was taken care of.
We spent some time talking and getting to know each other. I liked him more and more and felt a connection that I, even today, could not put into words. It was emotional, it was psychological, and it was physical. I had never felt this with anyone before and when I looked into his eyes I just wanted to hold him close forever.
What was it that attracted me to him? His voice and the way he spoke with confidence. His clean cut and professional dress. They way he spoke of his family and how important they were to him. The way he looked me in the eye and really listened to me and made me the center of his attention.
But any of these things could be done by anyone. Why was it he who made me swoon? Why was it he who I felt such a powerful connection with? Why was it he who I felt I needed to be with forever? Timing? Maybe I was just in a place where I needed all the things he was offering at the moment. Maybe the moon was in the right position and our cosmic whatnots where aligned just right for the connection. Maybe some voodoo princess was poking our dolls just right. Who knows?
Our first official date was a trip to his house in Selma. He introduced me to his mom and brother and I remember feeling even closer to him and also feeling special because he valued me enough to want his family to meet me and me to meet them. I felt included in his life. We watched The Wedding Singer and cuddled on his couch. On the trip back to my place we talked about the future in general and he told me he thought I was someone he could marry. It wasn't a proposal by any means, but it did tell me that he felt the same about me as I did about him. From that moment on we were set in stone.
What made him so special? He was just an average guy by all means. What made him stand out to me? He noticed me, really noticed me. He paid attention to me and let me know he cared and thought I was special to him. He included me in his already busy life. He needed someone and chose me to be that someone.
What made me decide our relationship could go somewhere? That connection. That indescribable feeling, knowledge that could not be put into words even if I tried for a million years to find the language. And, of course, that physical change I felt deep in my core every time I saw him or heard his voice...or thought about him.
To the outside world, our partnership seemed different. Everyone seemed to be warning us that things were moving too fast. They wanted us to step back and breathe and take our time. They wanted us to make sure we were right for each other, make sure it would work. They seemed to be seeing something totally different from what we were seeing and feeling. They had yet to find out what we already knew.
By no means was our relationship free of struggle. We came from two very different worlds. He was Mexican-American and I was an all-American white girl. He was Catholic and I was Protestant. He was small town raised, I was city raised. He was outgoing, I was introverted. Even in our new found sugar-coated stage of love, we had disagreements. We hurt each other fairly easily. Why? Because that is how life works. We were connected but still individuals with our own minds, hearts, and desires. No, absolutely no, relationship is without conflict.
The thing I think we struggled with the most was communication. I was young and new to romantic relationships. In my immature mind a man in love should just magically know what his woman wants and needs. Is that too much to ask? Really? *sarcasm*. He didn't think it important to share EVERYTHING with me. We had no idea how to talk or not talk, convey needs and desires, or respect privacy. It took a lot of time (years) to work the communication conundrum out.
The making up part was fun, though.
It didn't take long for us to decide to become engaged. Remember, we had sealed our fate on our first real date. Ha! I'm a poet and didn't know it! ( <-- Scarlet Pimpernel reference). It was about six months after we met that he officially proposed. It was Valentine's Day, 1999. He had a ring and got down on one knee, the whole nine yards of tradition. It was romantic and special. Obviously I said yes.
We both loved having picnics at the park or on our living room floor. We loved watching movies together. We loved staying in bed and talking, messing around (non-sex), messing around (sex), and just relaxing together. We loved each other.
We told each other "I love you" all the time. We hugged and kissed a lot. He opened doors for me. We held hands when walking together or sitting next to each other. He bought me things, food, roses, stuffed animals, jewelry, etc.. I knew he loved me even though there were times I felt he didn't show it. There were plenty of times that I felt neglected, unwanted, unloved. But even though I felt this way, I knew it wasn't his fault (at least not completely) but the fact that I needed to remember that we are two different people...and two different genders. It is not his job, even as my soul mate, to make me the center of his universe. He needs his own time, just as I need mine.
He always took care of me. He's always been there for me. I've had a lot of health issues and he's never left my side and always did what needed to be done to help me get better. I've always tried to encourage him to realize his potential. He struggles with deep feelings of failure, inferiority, and worthlessness. These feelings are totally unfounded and just hold him back. I know he is so much more than he thinks he is and I have never stopped trying to get him to see what I see in him.
Our relationship has grown and become stronger and stronger because no matter what we've been through, we always learn from it, we always lean on each other and hold each other up. And when we look back over the years one thing stands out above everything else: Through the darkest days we were always side by side, we were always there for each other, we were never alone, never abandoned, never left to fend for ourselves...we had each other.
Before I met Lee, I had been in a couple other relationships but they lacked depth, maturity, love, and any connection. Before I met Lee, I felt alone, invisible, unimportant. After I met Lee my life improved tenfold. The world didn't get better, finances didn't improve, hardships didn't disappear. But now I had someone to strengthen me and help me through it all, and offer a shoulder to cry on. And I returned the favor. That's what it's all about.
I feel our connection the most when we are alone together. Simply hugging. I feel his familiar chest, hear his familiar heartbeat, and body heat, and breathing. I smell his familiar scent. It brings me to tears of joy and love. To know I have someone who chooses me over all others, who loves me with a love that can not die. And I love him just the same. Nothing can top what we have.
I think the only way to describe the psychology of this is a snowball effect. Whatever kicked it into action, it just grew as it rolled along and now it's too big to stop. I'm OK with that, I like this thing we have and I wouldn't try to dissect it, diagnose it, or label it in any way.