Hand HeartOne of my favorite things as a kid was reading the Sunday comics. I would always be the first one up, and have the paper spread out on the living room floor, and always comics first.

I was thrilled when I discovered one day that there were comics in the daily paper too. One of the strips I discovered in the daily paper was Love Is… In high school I started cutting out my favorite ones, and taping them up on the wall next to my bed.

About ten years ago a friend of mine asked me how you knew you were in love. Not an easy answer, and it’s different for every one. After two relationships and two deaths, I’ve discovered a few things.

There’s a feeling of love, sure, but that’s only the beginning. You think about the significant other all the time, you miss them, it’s electric when you touch them, yada, yada, yada, all the usual things. This is not love. It may be the beginnings of it, but not always, and not fully.

They may not be as romantic as the comic, they’re more realistic,  but here’s my very short, very partial list of Love is…

  • …giving the kids a bath so your partner can sit down.
  • …running interference with relatives.
  • …being awoken in the middle of the night by an infant who has just puked up a week’s worth of meals. One of you cleans up the baby, one of you cleans up the crib, and you go back to bed, not having spoken a word.
  • …cleaning the snow off your partner’s car.
  • …a Scrabble move.
  • …listening intently.
  • …hugging your partner instead of choking them like you want to.
  • …waiting patiently.
  • …shaving your head.
  • …holding their hand when they take their last breath.

You also need to ask yourself some questions you probably never thought about before. Of course, you have already asked yourself, “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?” That’s a very open ended, vague and obtuse question to think about and comprehend.

On the outside, sure, it may seem like an easy enough question, especially when you’re young, stupid, and inexperienced. However, what you real need to think about are things like this:

  • If this person gets sick do I want to take care of them?And I don’t mean the flu. I mean stroke, paralysis, life altering sicknesses.
  • Do you realize they’re going to change? Five years from now, ten years from now, you will be married to a different person than you thought. The rub there, so will they.
  • Where do you want to live? You would think that would be an easy one, but you would be wrong.
  • Do you know what your partner wants to be doing in the future? Do you know what you want?

These are just a few things to consider, there are more things to think about, good and bad.

I told my friend some of these, or at least similar ones, and to my surprise (OK, not really surprise), he proposed to his girlfriend the next day.

Ten years, two kids later, I’m pretty sure they both still think it’s a good thing.

I do too.