Once upon a time, I didn’t get what love was.  Ignore all of my sappy Facebook posts.  It’s true.  

I mean, we ALL know what love is by definition.  If we’re lucky, we understand love because our parents dump it into us.

I was one of the lucky ones.  I grew up in a house with abundant love, support, and encouragement.  My parents have been married more than fifty years, so I’ve had an amazing example of love and commitment.

And let’s be honest, if you can be a Kansas farm wife for that many years, you clearly know what love is.  Am I right, Mom?

But if you are anyone reading this over the age of twenty, or if you’ve been through messy breakups or divorces, you know well what I mean when I say that I didn’t REALLY know what love is.

At least, not the fifty year kind of love.

Love requires a lot of sacrifice, a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of everyday commitment.

And we all think we “get” that.  We commit to it and mean it.  Until we don’t.  We think we get it until we realize that love shouldn’t be so damn hard all the time.

What we thought was love ends up being something else entirely.  It ends up being this kind of monster that engulfs you, and before you know it, you don’t even remember what love was.  You just know that the safety net of what you thought was love has tangled you up so badly that you have to cut yourself out.

It’s hard and painful and sometimes you hurt both yourself and others in the process.

Let me tell you something about safety nets.

They’re great to catch you when you fall, but once you’re stuck in the net after the initial fall, there isn’t a whole lot left to do except wait for someone to rescue you.

There was a messy time in my life when I thought I understood love.  I was sure of it.  It didn’t matter how hard and messy it was, I just assumed it was normal.

We all assume that love starts as some magical moment between two people and it all ends as a fairy tale.

Well, let me tell you…

My story is more Urban Cowboy than Cinderella (minus the mechanical bull scene), and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

For those of you who don’t know my full story, I’ll tell you some day over a glass of wine…or three.  It’s not a short story.  We may need some coffee…

What I can tell you is that sixteen years ago, I married the person my heart had always been looking for.  We did it with eyes wide open to the hard, the commitment, and the work we knew it would take.

We have had some wild times.  

We have now lived from coast to coast together.  We’ve raised one amazing young woman who rocks the Navy scene, and we’re trying our best not to screw up the other two younger ones.

We laugh a lot, give each other a lot of room to grow, and make a lot of mistakes.  Because THAT is what love is.

It is real and raw and everyday hard. 

It’s also wonderful and easy and secure.  It’s real love.  It’s the kind of love that lets you pout and cry and be a pain in the ass (even when you shouldn’t be).

It’s something I never would have found if I hadn’t been willing to let go of the hard, forced “love” that I thought I had found.

Do I believe in love at first sight and soul mates?

Not as much as I believe in vibrations and signs and the universe yelling at me to see what is right in front of me.  

Real love is not the things of fairy tales and movies, but it also shouldn’t be the tales of doom and gloom and constant sacrifice.

Today marks 16 years of marriage for us, but love started way before that.  It started on an old, well-worn dance floor before we even knew what was happening.  

Was it fate or divine intervention?  

I’m sure it was a whole lot of miraculum.

Today, like every other day, I’ll revel in how lucky I am, how loved I am, and how grateful I am that I found love that is real and raw and so much more than just a safety net.

Be grateful (for real love), water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

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