Contrast and Enduring Love

differences

In my book, Building: A Love Story, readers meet Jessica’s long time friend Kurtis, and his wife, Heather, who met young and married young, and more details about their relationship and personalities are revealed in Community.

With Kurtis and Heather, I wanted to highlight a lot of prejudicial reasons love is discounted, or dismissed, or underestimated, or discouraged by (often well meaning, good intentioned…at least they believe themselves to be well meaning and good intentioned) people in the relationship partners’ lives.

  • What if she’s objectively measured better than him at something he values? (It’s never seemed to matter if he’s objectively measured better than her at something she values in the love stories I’ve seen…even the ones in real life…which is a bummer, but that’s my observation…it’s only a difficulty this way…if she’s better than him at something.)
  • What if she really values her career and makes decisions that reflect that, without considering him as her main deciding factor? (Same…it never seems to matter if he makes decisions valuing his career without considering her as his main deciding factor in the love stories I know…she always bends/concedes/sacrifices…and that’s what makes her a ‘good woman;’ that’s one of the main reasons he loves her. Which again…bummer, but that’s my observation…it’s only a difficulty if SHE’S valuing her career ‘over him,’ which equals ‘too much.’)
  • What if they have different schedules in their heads about when things should happen in their lives?
  • What if they have different values about money? About sex?
  • What if they have significant cultural and religious differences?
  • What if they are both close with their families, but grew up with totally different family dynamics?

Can two people really be THAT different and make it work long-term? Stay committed? Stay in love? How do they adapt to ALL of that contrast?

Kurtis and Heather’s love story was inspired by one of my all time favorite love stories in film. Maybe my all time favorite romantic comedy EVER…My Big Fat Greek Wedding, written by Nia Vardalos (WOW, is she a fantastic writer. Seriously.). It has a little speech, given by the father of the bride at the main couple’s wedding reception, near the end of the film, that I’m going to quote here…

(The groom’s surname is Miller. The bride’s surname is Portokalos.)

“…You know, the root of the word, ‘Miller’ is a Greek word. ‘Miller’ comes from the Greek word, ‘milo,’ which means ‘apple.’ So there you go. As many of you know, our name, Portokalos, it comes from the Greek word, portokáli, which means ‘orange.’ So okay. Here tonight we have ‘apple’ and ‘orange.’ We’re all different. But, in the end? We’re all fruit.”

It’s cute and funny, and meant to be cute and funny, but I love that speech. I like to imagine Heather’s father having similar reluctance at first, but eventual happy, supportive acceptance to having Kurtis become part of his family. And while I didn’t write it into the story explicitly, I imagined Heather’s friends at the private school she attends ALSO kind of telling her in subtle (or maybe not so subtle) ways that her public school, high school athlete boyfriend is…not the best choice she could make. So the first love song featured for Kurtis and Heather today is Alicia Keys’ No One, because it’s so adamant with it’s ‘people can say whatever they want, I’m still with you, because I know who you really are,’ message.

And the other thing about Kurtis and Heather is that they met young and stuck it out together. They were still kids when they met. And I know I for one was told over and over again when I was young, that in these modern times, your ‘first love,’ the one you meet when you’re young and ‘don’t know any better,’ doesn’t, won’t, and can’t last. Because you’re going to go through life…college…work…meeting a whole bunch of other people…hardship…disagreement…your lives won’t line up…so many options out there…they’ll find someone new…more exciting…that they have more in common with…and things will end. But Kurtis and Heather last. Their love is enduring, despite forming at a tender age. So the other song I think about for them is John Legend’s Stay With You. (This will not be the only John Legend song featured before Valentine’s Day. Because that man can write a love song. Just sayin’.) Here are the lyrics:

We’ve been together for a while now
We’re growing stronger everyday now
It feels so good and there’s no doubt
I will stay with you
As each morning brings the sunrise
And the flowers bloom in springtime
On my lovin’, you can rely
And I’ll stay with you
Oh I will stay with you through the ups and the downs
Oh I will stay with you when no one else is around
And when the dark clouds arise
I will stay by your side
I know we’ll be alright
I will stay with you
Though relationships can get old
They have a tendency to grow cold
We have something like miracle
Yeah, and I’ll stay with you
Oh I will stay with you through the ups and the downs
Yes I will stay with you when no one else is around
And when the dark clouds arise
I will stay by your side
I know we’ll be alright
I will stay with you
And there’ll be heartaches and pains, yes there will
But through it all, we will remain
In this life, we all know
Friends may come, and they may go
But through the years I know
I will stay
And in the end I know that we’ll find
Love so beautiful and divine
We’ll be lovers for a lifetime, yeah
And I’ll stay with you
Oh I’ll stay with you through the ups and the downs
Yes I will stay with you when no one else is around
And when the dark clouds arise
I will stay by your side
I know we’ll be alright
I will stay with you
Everything will be fine, yeah
And I’ll stay with you
Through the end of time
I will stay with you
J and I didn’t meet in high school. But we’ve been together for 15 years now, and according to estimates I still get from many sources, we’re supposed to be, at best, complacent roommates by now. We’re supposed to be bored, or resentful of each other, or not even like each other anymore, because we’ve been together this long. Time and life and parenthood and physical changes should have reduced and/or soured our fondness and desire for one another. But that’s just not how we are. I hope we’re like I wrote Kurtis and Heather. I still love and want J just as much (maybe more) today as I did on our first date…on the day he proposed…on our honeymoon. I hope he feels that way too. I hope he wants to stay with me.

 

 

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