I asked my dad once “how do you know? You know? How do you know you love someone? How do you know you want to marry them?” (Back then, I thought marriage was the only avenue to love… I’ve grown up a lot since then). I’ve been thinking about it a lot again and I’ve been working my way towards writing this for a while, but then life got in the way, I got stuck…and then the right sentence dropped itself into my head while I was in the shower this evening.
It’s this: The phrase “I love you” is an incomplete sentence.
The first time I ever said those three words to someone (obviously, outside of my family), I was told I needed my head read. He was probably right. The second time I said it to someone, their reception was a little warmer (thank goodness, or else I’d have been put right off the whole idea and probably wouldn’t be where I am today. This stuff burns people, and I wish we were all more cognisant of that).
This needs context
The thing is, “I love you”, on it’s own, is a threadbare and rather short sentence. Without any context, it stands alone like some sort of white elephant that nobody wants to talk about. It’s the context of that sentence that gives it meaning, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about recently.
It has to have a purpose
A dear friend of mine packed up her family and headed to new shores this year. I’ll miss them all so very much, but they went in pursuit of certain dreams and to create something they wanted to. They did it, with purpose. Their “I love you” directed at their life together created the context for moving forward, moving closer to something they wanted, together. So that’s my point – “I love you” has to have a purpose. And it has to be a good purpose. It is not some throwaway line you can halfheartedly chuck around and hope it maybe fixes a fight. That phrase needs a purpose, and it should be one that serves everyone who says it, and everyone it is said to.
It’s a simple phrase
The phrase, in itself, is a simple one. Broken down, it’s three short words that are imbued with a sense action. Love, really, is that simple too. Yes, love can be messy and chaotic and really difficult sometimes, but when it comes down to the nugget of it, it’s simple – you either love someone or you don’t. You’re either on their team or you’re not. Being on someone’s team doesn’t mean you live in this hallucinogenic bubble that’s all kittens and purring, but that you’re in it for the long haul. You can disagree, banter, bicker, whatever, but – when the chips are down (and life forces those chips down, trust me), you’re on their team.
What my dad said
Which leads me directly to what my dad told me in response to my question. I’m paraphrasing but, in short, he said: “It’s when someone can make you so mad, fight with you or you misunderstand each other but, when you wake up in the morning, they smell like freshly mown grass to you. They make you think of honey and sweet things, and they make the world okay because you know they’ve got you, and you’ve got them.”