JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Love or IN Love?

April 30th, 2004 · 5 Comments

Scheherazade linked to Autumn’s post on the differences between love and being in love For a while, in my own life, I’ve been realizing how my feelings about my marriage and romance have changed through time. Also the comments in this post on love I wrote began a discussion of the benefits of arranged marriage versus do-it-yourself-(with Excel) style romance.

I think you can love someone without being in love with them. And I also think you can be in love with someone and not love them. You can have one without the other. I know this from my own experience. And I believe you can go from having either one to having both: although both involve the emotions (In Love more than Love, I believe), both can also be chosen in some sense.

Being in love is helium-balloon-high. Blowing bubbles. It’s eternal summer. It’s lush and sweet, ripe and immediate. It’s a handful of raspberries gathered in the morning. It’s a flower you want to pick and take with you. It’s moonlight at night. It’s electric. It’s ice cream. It’s a song you can’t stop singing. It’s watercolor. It’s impressionist. It’s a dream you had one night and you never did wake up.

Love is feet on the ground, toes in the sand. It’s gritty and gutsy. It’s a shovel to use in the trenches. It’s a garden you dug and planted with your own hands. It’s evergreen in winter. Love is candlelight. It’s meat and potatoes. It’s peanut butter and jelly. It’s perfume. It’s cake. It’s a photograph. It’s black and white and gray. It’s living life awake in textures and shapes.

Being in love is feeling “I’m so in love I could die!” while love dies for someone, suffering even in small ways.

For a long time I was afraid of the bubble balloon of being in love.

What Cynthia Rockwell wrote (via makeoutcity) reminded me of my fear:

The drawbacks being that if you’re delusionally happy about how great you are and how great is the world around you, you’re happier most of the time but then have that much farther to fall when something inevitably goes wrong and reality bursts your bubble. It hurts that much more.

As a child, I’d seen bubbles burst. Relationships broken into bits as if made of glass. As if romances were Humpty Dumptys waiting to happen.

I was happy to love someone. Love seemed solid. I could understand sacrifice. The give and take. Doing the work of digging in the dirt. Feet on the ground. Rational. Substantial and firm. Love lasts.

It was the balloon of being in love that frightened me. For if I became “delusionally happy”, I’d have “that much farther to fall”. Why get hurt? Why ride a frivolous emotional bubble doomed to burst?

So I’d flirt with infatuation. I’d entertain a crush or two. What’s easier than imaginary romance? But I’d never fall in love for then I’d fall too hard and too far and something would be sure to break. Like my heart.

When I married Ted, I loved him more than I was in love with him. Sure, I wrote him poems. I thought he was the cutest guy alive (still do!). I was in love with him as much as I could be. But I still couldn’t go head over heels down the aisle. I walked down that white carpet to the altar, my feet firmly on the floor.

It’s taken time. Years passing by. Sharing life as husband and wife. Some fears went away slowly. And others had to be surgically removed from my soul. It is only recently that I’ve entered into this new sweet season, this summer of IN love with my husband.

I believe in Love. But now I also believe in being in love. I’m having lots of fun with my helium balloon. I’m enjoying the flowers and perfume. I like eating my cake and ice cream. I only wish I had been able to have ice cream earlier. I wish I’d been willing and able to take the risk, that I could go back in time, take my (own) hand and tell that Julie to make that leap of faith into the feeling. To trust God and not my guts and let myself fall in love.

I’ll be delusionally happy for a while. If and when I fall, I’ll see what happens then. No matter what, it will have been worthwhile. If only to have shared the sweetness and the joy. The freedom and the fun. The laughter. If only to know at one time we were two people in love.

updated with grammatical changes!

Tags: marriage

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Phil // Apr 30, 2004 at 7:25 pm

    > go back in time take my (own) hand and tell
    > that Julie to make that leap of faith
    I guess I’m lead to ask, if you could do that, at what point would you do so? With Ted? With someone before Ted? Is your wish specifically to do with your current relationship (and all you’ve learned from it), or speaking in general?

    If choosing to “be in love” isn’t rational then on what basis do you make the choice?

  • 2 Katherine // Apr 30, 2004 at 9:45 pm

    I, too, have always believed there is a huge difference between “loving” and “being in love” / “falling in love.”

    “I love you,” to me involves the former – I choose to love you with my actions, caring for you in practical ways, showing my love by doing things that work towards your good, that serve you. I will stand by you through thick and thin, regardless of my feelings.

    “I am in love with you,” to me, means I feel giddy and excited and wonderful feelings towards you and you alone above all others (at least at the moment!). My heart skips a beat when I hear your voice on the phone. I want you near me.

    Julie, isn’t it a wonderful thing to have both with one’s husband??? Yahoo!!! Hurrah for the fantastic emotions AND commitment, loyalty and steadfastness God created us capable of. While the “in love” part waxes and wanes, the “love” part carries on chugging. Marriage is a truly cool invention.

  • 3 Julie Leung: Seedlings & Sprouts // May 3, 2004 at 1:46 am

    Further thoughts on cake, ice cream and love

    I’ve been thinking this weekend about the comments that Phil and Katherine left on my post Love or IN Love?. And the more I think about the difference between “love” and “in love”, the more I realize how little I…

  • 4 John // Jun 16, 2004 at 8:57 pm

    You Know… I have been in love with this woman for almost a year now, and we were having a discussion about love and “being in love” I felt really disappointed when she said to me one night I love you but I’m not in love with you. Right away my response was …. Gee thanks now I feel like one of your friends, and she said I’ve only known you for a short while, I get the feeling that being in love to her means really knowing someone, and I tried to explain to her how being in love was the excited feeling not the calm relaxed state.

  • 5 jose // Jun 28, 2004 at 6:16 pm

    john forget about her you crossed the infamous “friendship zone” a woman knows if something is possible the second they know you they only say taht if they know there is no way in hell it will ever happen….
    Im sorry, i’ve been neglected many times then found my sweetheart, know i realize many girls wanted me i just didn’t know where to look, but alas i’m too happy to care about it! so move on, places to see, people to do!