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Jul 24

What Happens When the Love of Your Life Marries Someone Else?

Looks like that happened to Andrew Cohen, the legal analyst of Politics Daily who writes a wedding toast that took a lot of guts to write.

The great love of my life marries today and I am not the groom. I had my chance, a few years ago, but did not realize until too late how fleeting my moment with her was meant to be. Whether it was my fault or hers, and, let’s face it, it was probably mine, I will wonder always about the life I might have had with the most loving and loveable woman I have ever known. Sometimes, I finally now understand, love, even crazy love, is not enough. Sometimes, as the romance novelists know, timing is everything.

I want to believe that that’s not true. Timing can’t trump love, can it? It seems to me that love goes beyond that and to think otherwise simply is a misunderstanding of what offering one’s self to another really means in marriage.

The woman I dated before Marion, a woman who ended up being bored with the likes of me (Gasp! Could you imagine!?), said that same “sometimes love just isn’t enough” phrase. And as my wife wife sleeps soundly in bed next to me as I type I can profoundly say that this woman was wrong.

Love is always enough. And while I’m sure this woman loved me, at least at some point, I’m also certain that she didn’t love me completely, accepting me in love with all my foibles, insecurities, craziness. It’s tough to write this but clearly I was not enough for her, or more appropriately and kindly, she preferred another that fit her standards enough to give all of herself to.

Now lest you think I am pining for a love lost, as Mr Cohen is with eloquence and class, I can say with certainty that I married the love of my life and neither hell nor high water would have kept me from doing so.

Marion never lets me believe that she won’t love me. Even with all of my faults. One of the lines in our self-written wedding vows is:

“I accept you just as you are.”

And that is what our marriage is always based on. Commitment, no matter what comes, no matter what disappoints us, is our call to each other. And let me tell you, commitment is never easy, but it is what calls us into deeper and lasting love for one another.

For Mr. Cohen perhaps this was the woman who opened him to the possibility of love once again, who opened his heart just enough to risk getting hurt and to consider committing his life for another again. One of the foundations of the spiritual life is gratitude. Cohen grasps that well here today.

I want to thank her, mostly, for rescuing me from hopelessness. When we met, back in the spring of 2005, I was nearly 40 and had been dating off and on for two years following an unexpected divorce. I had lost faith in relationships. I had given up on love. She arrived, unexpectedly, and showed me what was possible. She raised me up from the emotional dead. She drew out of me the poison of divorce and betrayal. Eleven years younger but already more mature than me, she was dazzling, brilliant, funny, and sweet; she both gave and taught me patience and devotion and sacrifice. No woman before or since ever made me feel as desired, needed, beloved, appreciated as she did. No one has yet made me want her more. Some men live their whole lives without this kind of love. At least I had it for one brief, shining moment.

Beautiful. Gracious and even prayerful. Thanks be to God for what we had–seems to sum it up.

Read the whole article. It’s quite moving. And in many ways very classy. I wonder what this woman’s husband thinks of this very public letter?

I wonder if, as Jack Nicholson, says in As Good As It Gets, it makes him “want to be a better man,” to be blessed with this woman who seems to have been a profound partner for someone else at one time or another.

Andrew Cohen seems to think that he blew it and his column today, tinged with regret, is going to resonate with a lot of people.

But for me, it has simply evoked gratitude that I know that I married the love of my life and am glad that I was smart enough not to settle for anyone less.

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