It’s so often a ‘fall’ into love because it happens so freely, without our being able to control it. Without our being able to fully fathom or describe it too. On becoming a parent, I fell again; and I realised I had become a different kind of partner to that person who I loved first. It’s impossible not to change: the profoundly strong feelings you thought you could only ever have for one are mutiplied. It was like a switch being pushed on; I was certain of it instantly. From one person, suddenly I shared and wanted to give everything to two. Four years later, we were four. Am I a better partner, husband for being a father — for falling again? Or worse? Better. Worse. These individual words don’t really mean a great deal. You can’t make a sentence from one word and expect it to mean anything, not without composing many more sentences around it. There’s a limit to how much you can reduce a story, a feeling, down. And the converse is of course also true: you can take a thousand pages to say absolutely nothing. There are many who excel at doing precisely that. Saying little and saying little of any value. That’s probably the way of so many couples. Probably the lot of so many happy couples, even. So, how to tell someone how profound an effect they still have on your life? How beautiful they are? How these feelings are manifest and they are intertwined in your thoughts every day — the good and the bad days.
As somebody who spends most days immersed in a world of words, professionally and recreationally, my inability at times to communicate and express what I feel clearly to the person who is half of my life and has been with me for half of that life is strange. Trying to clearly define a feeling, any feeling, but especially one as all-encompassing as love, would be beyond most (although ‘all-encompassing’ might be as apt a description as any for it). That ubiquitous three-word construct, uttered to those we love and those who love us, but diluted by all who use it; spoken by those who have no idea what it could mean and by those who don’t ever wish or care to have it defined.
Defining is both straight-forward and complex. We aim to set the meaning of something without understanding the world we’re using to configure those terms and boundaries. We seek clarity when the speed and clutter of life blurs and disguises all within it. Whatever words I might use, I fear they’ll fall short, because it’s a feeling that can’t be fixed and confined so simply. Furthermore, we should all be wary of words, especially ‘clever’ and ‘pretty’ constructions, especially the spoken word, laden with inflection, hindered by too little or too much volume, interfered with by that which can be seen as well as heard.
But if defining something is about stating that which you know to be true, I know that everything I know about love — about feeling it, about enjoying it, about having it reciprocated, about learning to understand that it can change, increase, be multiplied and shared, and that it must be worked at and cherished — all of those things I know because of her. I feel them because of her. I feel them only for her and the two daughters who are inextricably her too. The woman who I fell and am still falling in love with.