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April 9, 2000

Why Can't We Stay Married, If We Love Each Other?

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My divorce has taught me some other hard truths:
That good sex can survive even as your marriage dies.
That it really is the little things.
That you have to talk about the ugly stuff-with each other.
That only you can ask for what you want.
That words matter, but not as much as emptying the dishwasher unprompted.
That charisma gets old.
That, love of his life or not, you will be replaced. Probably by someone younger. Probably sooner than you think.
That smart women choose men who make their lives easier.
That all men choose women based on how those women make them feel.
That love may be everything, but it is not enough to keep two people together, no matter what they say in the movies.
My love for my husband was and remains uncontested. I love him, and I will always love him. My heart cleaves to his, even as he moves away, loves another, even as time and paperwork dismantle us. I love him as a person apart, for who he is, not for what he does for or to me.
And that will last. Till death.

On our second real date, my husband and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We held hands. He joked about medieval triptychs. I wept in the statue garden. We ate cheese and bread in the overpriced cafeteria. He told me he'd spent eight months in India. I told him I'd played high-school basketball. He said he once loved a woman who brought a hair dryer on a camping trip. I said I didn't own a hair dryer.
We walked the 40 blocks home, the wind lashing our faces. We stopped for sushi. We kissed on street corners. We did not say, "I love you."
The next morning we were engaged. I told no one. I had no words.
"Do you remember that day?" I asked him recently.
His eyes welled up. Then he swallowed, and I saw the tears recede. I saw him bury himself in front of my eyes. I recognized the move.

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