I’m an optimist, though my wife thinks she’s the optimist. Now, it’s true that I often seem dissatisfied, with my career, my accomplishments, even who I am. I’ve wished I was someone else for most of my life, honestly, except when I was pretending to be someone else as an actor. When I was playing a role, I was someone else and I liked that. She accepts her lot, says she is happy, has much of what she wants and can live without the rest. It is what it is, to her, at least she says so, and I have no reason to disbelieve her. So she may be happy. But happiness and optimism are not the same thing. I may be unhappy, but I believe things will get better, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, despite years of trying, despite regrets and failures. That’s optimism. I’ve been learning Spanish for 40 years! A pessimist would have given up by now. 

I’m also a romantic. My wife would probably laugh at that, I’m guessing, but she doesn’t know me as well as she thinks she does. I don’t think we have the kind of relationship where it feels safe to be romantic, to tell you the truth. It’s my fault (of course). In seriousness, I don’t know who’s fault it is. Blame it on the cow. But neither one of us is particularly romantic with the other, at least not the way that I define it. She may think that a nice dinner out is romantic, or a trip. She may think that the time she packed a bag for me, and surprised me at work and swept me away to a bed and breakfast for my 30th birthday was romantic. Most people would probably agree with her. In fact, writing it down, it does sound like that.

But the kind of romance I wish I had isn’t defined by anything she’s done or I’ve done or even think to do. I consider myself a romantic because I want that fantasy kind of love that people who don’t have it say doesn’t exist, that honeymoon that lasts forever. I want to feel like I can’t live without her, that she makes me happy, all by herself, and that I want to be like her. And I want her to feel the same about me. I want to love her so much that I believe in her when she doesn’t even believe in herself, that I can convince her how great she is, and help her to be her best. And I want it back. I’m not saying I’m a romantic just because I want to do romantic things. I want to feel it.

Now, maybe they’re right, maybe this doesn’t exist. Being romantic may be like having faith in something that has no scientific support. I’m not saying that it’s rational. I’m just saying it’s what I am.

I don’t think that she has that kind of faith. But I could be wrong, Maybe she’s just given up. Maybe we just haven’t found that niche with each other.

We have good times. We laugh together. We have, over many years grown towards each other, become a bit more like each other, whether we originally wanted to or not. But after all these years I still feel like she doesn’t really know who I am, or doesn’t appreciate who I want to be, or doesn’t believe in me. She shouldn’t have to. I don’t want her to lie. I should believe in myself. Maybe I convince her. Or maybe I test her love by being who she doesn’t think I am, who she may think that she doesn’t want me to be, and give her the opportunity to love that… or not.

Now there’s an interesting standard, a way to measure love? Why not? Not all love is the same. Maybe the gold standard of love, the highest level, so to speak, is when you want to be the other person. If you really appreciate what it would feel like to be her, then when you’re with her, you would take it on, empathetically, like it’s contagious. Or him. And if you like how it feels, who you have become in that moment, then you want to spend more time together. And the other side of that is when she does that to you, you get to appreciate yourself through the eyes of another. She, or he, helps you to appreciate your own self. But you need to get each other right too. You don’t want someone appreciating you for something you aren’t, and don’t want to be. That’s expectation to be something you’re not and pressure to change. He needs to appreciate her for what she wants to be, and vice versa. She needs to show him who she really is, and vice versa. That’s our part. Two people who feel like that about each other will grow stronger individually and as a team. They would learn from each other’s strengths, and leave the weaknesses to stagnate. Oh, and they would love each other. A lot.

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