I loved her, but would she always love me? During the day, she said “yes.” But at night, she wondered if the love she had felt in a previous relationship was as great as the love that we shared.
I wanted to be with her forever, but did she think I was “the one”? She said she was sure, except she wasn’t: like the time, after we had been talking about the possibility of marriage for months, she dropped a bombshell: she wasn’t sure if she really loved me. Because that’s kind of something you need to know before marriage, I just couldn’t handle it; I needed to know if she was with me. So I said, “You need to figure this out.”
Not a day went by that I didn’t think, “Maybe we’re just not meant to be. Maybe for as much as we love each other, we just don’t have the chemistry.” I replayed in my mind over and over again how she said that she didn’t feel as loved with me as she did with her previous boyfriend.
It was a time of passionate uncertainty—not because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be with her till death do us part, but because she wasn’t certain. The thing is, though, we really loved each other. We both had the same geeky interests, the same desire for a big family, even the same personality. And we had a blast with each other. But, I thought, maybe the soul-mate gods had decided that we just weren’t fated for each other?
Fortunately, her bombshell about not being sure if she loved me lasted a grand total of one night. The next morning, she showed up at my apartment door, took my arm, and said that she knew she loved me. Two months later I dropped down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She cried and said yes. And seven months later, I cried like a baby as she walked down the aisle. In front of our family and friends, we vowed that we would love each other until death do us part. Afterwards, we feasted and danced like it was the happiest day of our lives. Because it was. And then we moved into this tiny one-bedroom apartment, excited to go to sleep and wake up as best friends and lovers. It was great.
Getting married—actually, just getting engaged—dealt a big blow to the insecurity that haunted me: the question of whether we were really meant for each other. And after marriage, I knew and trusted with rock-solid certainty that she would love me until death do us part. Our marriage would last because we were in it together.
But there was still one small problem: not a single day passed that I didn’t wonder if our love had yet measured up in her mind to the love in her previous relationship. Even as I felt the security of commitment in marriage, there was still some insecurity lurking there. And it didn’t all disappear overnight.
But over time, the slow work of love within the boundaries of our until-death-do-us-part commitment did wonders. With each passing day, I gained a new confidence that we were meant to be because we had chosen each other. Because we were a team. Because we were in it for life. And we had a ring to tell the world, and the living memory of standing in front of our family and friends to remind us. That’s what I needed.
Insecurity and jealousy are powerful emotions. At least in my experience, it was very difficult to squash those emotions on my own. And if we had never made the promise of marriage to each other—if we had continued in a relationship telling each other that we loved each other, but never backing those words up with any real commitment—then I think the insecurity and jealousy would have just kept on festering.
That’s part of the beauty of marriage, I think: in an uncertain world, it’s meant to solidify the certainty and security that we crave. And within that security, trust and love can flourish.
Not, of course, that marriage is a magic ticket to security: if I couldn’t trust Amber before marriage, I had no business marrying her. You can’t expect marriage to solidify trust and security with a person who hasn’t proven that he or she is trustworthy or a person of character. But when you know that a person is trustworthy, and that you both love each other, but your own insecurities still make you second-guess the relationship, that’s where marriage can do its thing.
When love is bound, then trust and security can be won.