The most challenging dynamic that ever existed is hands down, the human romantic relationship. Wars have been waged, honour defended, rules bent and then broken, promises made and destroyed, tears and blood spilled passionately, sometimes silently over the question:
Who does my heart belong to?
Where do I call home?
For women such as myself – who find the concept of monogamy and settling down tempting but ultimately confounding – it can take all of the strength that we can muster to put on our armour and step outside and face a world rife with subconscious, silent criticism and projection when it comes to everything We Should or Should Not Do in a relationship.
So it might come as a surprise to you that the one that calls my wild heart home, is my best friend, my husband (my third), and the love of my life. I am nothing if not a walking contradiction.
Do you want to know the truth?
I have known many, many men. In many, many different ways.
I have known men in ways I can talk about and ways I would need two days and a case of something very strong to even know where to start.
But this man is not like the other men. For a myriad of reasons.
He is the only man who turned to face the storm when it came. Who calmly and sagely observed the faces I showed him – ugly, sweet and wild and stayed unaffected by my temperamental ways, my hypocrisy and the million and one ways I could break his heart.
As someone who has bought into the bullshit happy ever after paradigm several times over, I can tell you that the secret to a happy marriage has nothing to do with the expectations we have when we walk down that aisle, full of confetti dreams and fluttering certainties. It has nothing to do with who we think we are or what we think we know.
Love is not perfect. Love does not play by the rules. It does not tick boxes, or fan lost flames. Love is brutal, with hard and soft edges you hold delicately in your hand lest you smother it or break your own skin. Love will test you. It will make you question yourself, question each other, go back to the day you fell in love time and time again, searching for an answer, searching for that innocence that pushed you together and made you look deep into each other’s eyes and know that your feelings for each other would endure anything. Love doesn’t fear for its own future but it damn well should. Love is keeping your eyes open at two in the morning while the other is soul searching and scratching for scraps of self worth on the floor. It’s two weeks apart when the growing, yawning gaping holes in your timezone-brutalised heart are only matched by the fierce love and admiration you find in stories of each other’s journeys and wanting.
It’s I miss you but I love you.
It’s I love you but I want you to BE you.
A love like ours wasn’t born from a desire to “get it right”. Ours is not a third time lucky kind of love.
It’s hot baths and rose oil and carbonara on the couch and good wine in cheap glasses. It’s waking the other up at some ungodly time on a Sunday morning with “Honey I want to be a writer” and having the other respond “Good. Go and be a writer.”
Our love is rum soaked nights in blues bars, learning the virtues of Japanese whisky and making Bill Murray jokes. It is quoting the same 5 movies every day and laughing at the same bits, no matter how often we’ve heard them.
It’s being married to my best friend and sometimes that is enough and sometimes it isn’t but it’s home either way.
Because he is the man that didn’t run.
He is the man who shares this space with my failings and undoings and triumphs, three pairs of my shoes on his side of the bed, crumpled up feelings, boxes of moments belonging to other men in other lifetimes.
He is the man that says you can quit if you want and I have your back either way.
He is the man that says yes, even though we are setting out on new terrain fraught with dangerous possibility.
He is the man that loved me when I was broken open. When my lungs burst and I gasped for air when the horror of all those lost to me became too much.
He is The Duncan to my Alia. The man who held my tidal wave heart in his hands and did not let go even though most days I am fumbling in the dark, searching for keys to a love I can not and should not drive.
He is a man unintimidated by a woman driven wild with unceasing desires, fight or flight fantasies and fears. Not once has he ever asked me to stop being ‘too much’ in order to make his life more comfortable.
He is the man who puts his own dreams on hold so that mine can take flight, even though they are fanciful and often involve deserts or the moon and other things I can’t quite name.
He loves me although my absentminded gaze takes me far away from his and I crave words needled onto flesh and wander wild forests like a huntress. He doesn’t require my subservience or my faithfulness. He is humbly aware of our place in the universe and the work we were both sent here to do.
His love for me is of a higher order and he blesses me with his compassion, humility and hands that are both safe and holy and wise. He makes me laugh and laugh as if the world has taken leave of its senses and nothing else matters but the child-like glee on my face that to him means I am back, I am here, I am home again.
This man lives with a wild woman in his presence and he is not intimidated by the wolves that she summons.
When he rises, when he remembers his birthright, he is so powerful, that I avert my eyes in deference to his divinity. He humbles me and through the light, I stare at him in wonder. In his presence I am blessed, humbled, profoundly grateful and inadequate at the same time. Not because he has ever found me unworthy but rather because he is a better human being than I could ever aspire to be.
This year – I have been married to him and loved him longer than I have been married to any other on this earth in this lifetime. Because even though I long for freedom, sometimes I long for my feet to be firmly on the ground, and no matter where in the world I am, who I am today and who I intend to be tomorrow, he is the only man who has ever been able to call my wild heart home.