Private: Love’s Dimensions

Love has so many dimensions, far more than the three that bound our usual vision. Given the rupture now to our marriage, I’ve been thinking of all the reasons why I fell in love with my wife, loved her through her own diminishing love for me, and love her still. That I still do love her comes with all the complex emotional acceptance of her flaws and failure to remain committed to our marriage, to the vows we made to one another. It’s a wounded kind of love.

I fell in love with my wife over time. There was no Cupid’s arrow when we first met outside the South End Rowing Club. There was easy rapport, and quick familiarity. I think we felt natural with one another from the start. I know that I felt comfortable telling her highly personal details of my life.

I wonder if my wife remembers our second date, a walk on Ocean Beach. I held her hand and it felt lovely, Later we walked Ocean Beach at a minus tide to collect sand dollars to scatter on the dinner tables at our wedding.

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These early days are always the best, when romance is at its fullest. Bright early romance inevitably fades. The hope is that what replaces romance is warmth, affection, intimacy, and lasting love. This wasn’t to be.

Our happiest times were on the road: staying in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage at Point Arena in Mendocino and later at Heceta Head on the Oregon coast. In Oregon we stopped at Bandon Beach dunes where I striped off my clothes and went swimming naked in the cold surf. Happy days.

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Twice for my birthday my wife took me to her favorite places: Deetjen’s in Big Sur and the Ahwahnee in Yosemite.

Niland at Ahwahnee

In Big Sur we hiked steeply in the Ventana Wilderness, with stunning views up and down the coast. We ate fine birthday dinners in the hotel dining rooms. We made love in the cool darkness of our rooms…in Yosemite it was for the last time.

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I love my wife’s athleticism. She’s a fine climber, cyclist, swimmer, rower. She once led a group of organ transplant patients to the top of Kilamanjaro. She has a black belt in jiu-jitsu–though her commitment to peak performance often borders on the self-punishing, tinged with judgment.,of herself and others. I once asked her if she ever rowed in the Bay for pleasure, and her response was, “why would you want to do that?” I have always felt my own commitment to swimming—my only sport—has been found wanting by my wife, not up to par with what I might be capable of achieving. She has never, however, expected more from me, or anyone, than she is willing to give of herself. She gives her all.

Risking sounding sexist, I want to say how much I love my wife’s body, how she looks, her natural beauty, her poise. She is a beautiful woman—never fussy or adorned or made-up in the latest look.

[My wife has asked that I not include pictures of her.  So one must imagine….]

In truth, our love was never too much about sex. Sex played a lusty role, at the beginning, for sure. But as so much else in our lives, there wasn’t much reciprocity in our lovemaking. There was her pleasure, and my pleasure. Rarely our pleasure.

My wife, too, is a natural cook, a master of the wok, of making mouth-watering dishes from seemingly nothing at hand.  So many times I’ve looked in our refrigerator and declared there’s nothing to eat, only to have my wife take a second look and create a delicious meal. Indian spices, ground by her, are a specialty.  I will miss these dinners.

Though we both love books and reading—one of the things that captured our mutual attention on OKCupid—we soon discovered our tastes were different. I think we were both disappointed that books we loved were often not loved by the other. Only once did my wife ask me to read a favorite book of hers, and I did though not with enthusiasm. She never asked again. Her own taste in books about serial killers I found charming if a little odd.

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I loved that my wife is a mother. In fact, I had made it a stipulation on OKCupid that I would only date a woman who was a parent. My own sons are the most important people in my life, and only another parent would understand this bond without jealousy. My wife never interfered with these relationships, nor I with her relationship with her daughter.

Sometimes at night, in the first year of our marriage, my wife would hold me in bed at night. Or I would hold her. Outside the fog horns at Mile Rock would be sounding their muffled blasts. Almost regardless of the season it’s cool, or cold, at night in the Outer Richmond. The warmth of our bodies so close was a comfort deeper than temperature. It was the love I always wanted. We had it for such a brief time.

It makes me incredibly sad to think about these things tonight.

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2 Comments

  1. Niland your inherent clarity, caring and candor will support you on your path into the next chapter of your life, including with those who deeply appreciate your traits ~ friend for life, Kare

    Reply
    • Thank you, Kare. I wish those traits had been better used and appreciated in my marriage. I can only be the man I am–and try harder.

      Reply

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