Ten years ago, as a junior in college, I had the opportunity to see love in action—on both ends of the marriage spectrum.
My brother got married that summer, and I witnessed him and his bride, deeply “in love,” pledge their lives to each other. I heard them talk excitedly about their plans for their new home. I watched them gaze affectionately at each other. “This is what being in love is like,” I thought, secretly wishing that my own Prince Charming would hurry up and make himself known.
A week after my brother’s wedding, my family and I traveled to my grandparent’s home in Pennsylvania. There, I witnessed marriage at the other end of the spectrum.
My grandparents were in their mid-seventies, and my grandfather was suffering with the early stages of dementia. They celebrated their wedding anniversary that week (fifty-something years), but my grandfather didn’t remember it. As hard as it was for my grandmother to watch his decline, she chose to be content with life. She never complained when he asked her the same question ten times in one hour. Or when he was confused by simple instructions. She was patient. And she loved him despite all the difficulties. “This too is what love is like,” I thought, hoping that someone will love and care for me in the same way when I’m old and unlovely.
So that summer I learned that married love expresses itself in different ways. Sometimes passionately—full of hopes and dreams—but at other times as a quiet commitment stemming from the sharing of life experiences.
And both are beautiful.