From A Second Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul

History and Chemistry

I heard some women talking in the beauty shop the other day, commiserating with one another because the romance, the spark, the zip had gone out of their marriages. There was no excitement anymore, they said, no spark.

“That’s life,” one said. “It’s inevitable. Time passes. Things change.”

“I’d like to have that chemistry back,” another said, sighing. “I envy young lovers. Violins and fireworks.”

I thought back to those early days of my own special romance, when I floated, rather than walked. I never got hungry and frequently forgot to eat. My hair was shiny, my skin was clear and I was considerate, warm-hearted and unfailingly good-humored. When my true love and I were apart, I spent every miserable moment thinking about him. I was wretched until we were together again, sometimes as long as two or three hours. Life was one glorious rush after another—when the phone would ring, or I’d hear him at the door, or when our hands would accidentally touch.

Now, this is the same man who today, remembers our wedding anniversary no more often than once every five years, who rarely closes a cupboard door or a drawer after he has opened one, and who resists replenishing his wardrobe until I have to secretly get rid of his more disreputable things to maintain family dignity.

I wouldn’t say he’s predictable, but he asks, “What did you make for lunch?” six days out of seven, after we agreed, upon his retirement, it was every person for himself at lunch time. Most recently he repeatedly asked, “What do you want for your birthday?” so often that finally, worn down, I named something. He gave me something else.

He enjoys TV or movies only if they have car chases, explosions or shootings every seven minutes, and then only at ear-shattering volume. He considers it his right, by virtue of being born male, to control the TV channel selector, and is hormonally incapable of speaking softly or closing the front door without causing the whole house to shudder.

However . . . this is also the man who, when I decide to go on a diet, says, “Why? You look good to me.” Who gets out of bed on a chilly night to put an extra blanket on the bed because he knows I’m cold. Who gave me a stunning necklace for my above-mentioned birthday after I asked for foul-weather boating gear, telling me I should “just go ahead and get that other stuff” myself.

He’s a man with more integrity in his little finger than anyone I’ve ever known to have in their entire body, and who recently bragged to my in-laws that I supported him in the early, lean years of his career—thirty-four years after the fact. He’s a man who, in spite of his own personal frugality left over from his poverty-stricken era, loans large sums of money to our adult children at the drop of a hat, with no time limits and no interest payments. He can always be counted on to be there in a crisis, to be calm, rational, strong, fair and loving. Over the years, he has held me in his arms when my mother died, has held my head when I threw up, my hand when I labored to give birth to our children, and my heart from the first time I saw him.

I remembered the women in the beauty shop the other day as I sat in the car waiting for him to return from an errand across the street. I caught a glimpse of a slender, good-looking, vigorous man on the sidewalk. His head was lowered, hands in his pockets as he walked along, whistling. Very appealing. He raised his head and grinned. Zing!

The father of my children. The other name on my checking account. The man I fell in love with.

History and chemistry. It just doesn’t get any better.

E. Lynne Wright

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