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Stuck Like Glue

By Catherine Arveseth

I can’t recall what was said or why we had a “discussion.” I just remember it rattled me, and quick as lightning I was on the defensive. I huffed around, hot and bothered by a handful of tossed out words.

I tugged on my running shoes and whisked out the door, hoping to run my steam down to a simmer. The fresh air felt good, but it wasn’t good enough. By the time I rounded the corner and stepped onto the driveway, I was still hissing under the skin.

Marriage is like that sometimes. Glowing and perfect one moment. The next? You’re wondering how you thought you had so much in common.

I walked into the living room and found Doug throwing kids into the air one at a time, swooping them into his arms and dancing around the furniture with them. He was wearing his black running shirt. He looked lean and handsome. His laugh was genuine and happy and his face revealed nothing. Not a trace of discontent.

A new song bounced out of the speakers – one I’d never heard before. The kids began hip-hopping, swinging, grooving to the beat. The lyrics (listen here) caught me up, squeezed my pride tight, and all the angst I’d been feeling trickled right out.

Absolutely nobody knows me better
No one that can make me feel so good…

I love country. Always have. Doug loves classic rock. Boston, Rush, Van Halen. We dated before, after, and in between LDS missions. Six years of friendship is a long time. You rub off on each other. While Doug wore the black tag in Korea I wore out his Boston CD. While I wore the black tag in Illinois Doug took up guitar. And now, when he finds a country song like this he adds it to our playlist.

I leaned against the door frame, softening. I looked at him and smiled as Jennifer Nettles kept on singing.

Just when I start to think… the love has died
There you go makin’ my heart beat again,
heart beat again, heart beat again

There you go makin’ me feel like a kid…

There you go pullin’ me right back in
right back in, right back in
and I know I’m never letting this go

I’m stuck on you.

Stuck like glue. You and me baby we’re stuck like glue.

The most epic stories, the most timeless tales, the most prolific authors, poets and composers have written about love. Why? It’s dynamic, complicated, riveting, and matchless. There’s no pull like it. Nothing quickens us more or makes us feel more alive.

Months later, Doug and I were sitting at the kitchen table listening to Tom Ashbrook on NPR. It was Valentine’s Day. The kids were finally in bed, we were eating take-out, and I still had a late-night grocery run to make. While pouring dressing over my pork salad, Tom announced the evening’s topic. Love. Doug and I looked across the table at each other and laughed. Our sorry, exhausted state made the topic feel ironic.

Callers from all over the nation phoned in with their definitions of love. They were thoughtful, sometimes trite and typical, but interesting. As we listened I formulated my own set of definitions:

Love is the unusual comfort of saying nothing but feeling at ease. Love is deliberate and kind. Love is being willing to cross the room first. Love is giving each other the freedom to be who God wants you to be. Love is compromising instead of quitting. Love is deciding to let go rather than hurt or be hurt. Love is a gift. Love is a choice.

Doug and I will celebrate twelve years next week. While love is all these things, it’s also that flip of the stomach I get when I see him at a distance. It’s moving together seamlessly while we try to raise a family. And as Doug says, it is being “fiercely loyal” to each other.

Stuck like glue.

How do you define love?

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About Catherine Arveseth

Catherine Arveseth is mother to five children, including two sets of twins. She is an exercise physiologist by profession, writer by passion, loves hiking with her family, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the edge of an ocean. She and her husband, Doug, began their family in Virginia but now live in Salt Lake City, Utah. She blogs at wildnprecious.com.

21 thoughts on “Stuck Like Glue”

  1. Love is a defining emotion, feeling, state of being – and if you don't have it, your edges are undefined.

    It comes in all shapes, sizes, moods, packages and reasons.

    It's life's poetry, and sometimes just as complicated and difficult to understand, create and appreciate… and so worth the struggle, passion and effort to make it good.

    Lovely post!

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  2. Beautifully written. I think love is what you go through together. The ups and downs and everything in-between. We loved watching you and Doug, you always seemed so peacefully in love.

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  3. Yes. I absolutely agree. Love is also going through a miscarriage deliberately and resolutely (or maybe not so much at moments), leaning on each other and being strong for each other and coming out whole at the other end.

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  4. Thank you for this post.

    In recent years, I think too much sometimes and even wonder if love exists or at times if anything matters.

    Love exists because people sacrifice for others. Love exists when people are unselfish for the benefit of others. Mutual love is the coming together of those who want to do good to each other. Before they know how to describe love, children love those who sacrifice for them and who have bonded with them. Love is peace. Not all loves of this world will last forever in the future although they have their time in the sun now. Love will endure forever.

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  5. Kellie – your words were poetry. "if you don’t have it, your edges are undefined." I never thought of it that way, but I believe you're right. Loving someone and being loved gives us form, purpose, and bounds. This was beautiful: "It is life's poetry" – which is exactly why we write about it, sing about it, and it is often difficult to understand. I love your heart Kellie. You speak out of knowing. xo

    Cristie – you and J are excellent examples of love and choice. I've always admired your relationship. love you.

    Mandy – It is absolutely "something you go through together." I am finding loving someone like this is a process that is always changing. It is either increasing or decreasing, but it never stays stagnant. I think you two have wonderful synergy.

    Ana – "coming out whole at the other end" – wow. Isn't that all we can strive for? We will travel hard places, dark places – places that could break us. But to come out whole… that's what I want. Beautiful.

    Barb – Lost love, abandonment, and experiences that make us question love can all be discussed as a spin off to this. It is no slight thing to have love in our lives. I couldn't agree more – love is the natural result of sacrifice and unselfishness and your definitions were excellent. "Love is peace. Love endures forever." Thank you.

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  6. I have to agree with Cristie…it's choice for me.

    I love this poem:

    The Wild Rose

    Wendell Berry

    Sometimes hidden from me
    in daily custom and in trust,
    so that I live by you unaware
    as by the beating of my heart,

    Suddenly you flare in my sight,
    a wild rose blooming at the edge
    of thicket, grace and light
    where yesterday was only shade,

    and once again I am blessed, choosing
    again what I chose before.

    The first time I had an inkling that love was a choice, not a state of being for which we have no responsibility, was in the temple, during a sealing. It changed my whole perspective on my marriage and my relationship with others. I think we're best defined by what we choose to love.

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  7. Thank you for your lovely words. I love Doug's phrase of being "fiercely loyal". For me, those two words together sum it up very nicely. Sticking by each other and allowing our commitment pull us through it all.

    "Nothing quickens us more or makes us feel more alive." Absolutely love this.

    The scripture that really comes to mind as far as setting my expectations properly in relationships is the one from 2 Nephi about there being "opposition in all things". I think realizing that there will be light and darkness, joy and pain, and disappointment and wonder all mixed together in this whole marriage thing makes me more hopeful when the bad times come…since I know there are lots of good, sweet moments behind us and many more to come (and thankfully, they far outnumber the bitter ones).

    We just celebrated our 15th anniversary a few weeks ago, and our weekend of celebrating turned out to be this strange microcosm of our marriage experience. The first evening we went out was AMAZING. We were looking into each other's eyes with awe and wonder over the dinner table. Then two nights later, when my husband wanted to go out again to celebrate on the actual day of our anniversary, it was a total dud. Ha! I was exhausted and hungry and completely distracted. I laughed at the end of the night and said, "Well, that wasn't our greatest time together." (Plus, I had overcooked our cake just a few hours before.) The good times and bad (or at least just blah) times all in one weekend.

    Forgiveness has been one of the greatest gifts my husband has again and again given me. I feel like that's right at the core of the love that ties us.

    Thank you for this post, Cath.

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  8. I, too, am a fan of the 'choice' part of love.

    That, and that it is a gift. Choice keeps our hearts open to that gift, I think.

    We use the 'fiercely loyal' concept, too. I can still hear Sister Hinckley saying that.

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  9. That, and that it is a gift. Choice keeps our hearts open to that gift, I think.

    Let me clarify this…I meant once you have someone you are committed to. I don't want to be misunderstood as saying that if someone doesn't have someone right now that her heart is not open enough. Sorry for not being more clear!

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  10. After 20 years of marriage I feel the same way. I choose to love my husband when he leaves his socks on the floor because some day he may not be here. We choose to love each other fiercely and I have never regretted doing it.

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  11. This was a lovely post, Catherine. I completely agree with you that love is a choice. I've found that my love for my husband has grown as I've consciously chosen to honor my commitment to him, chosen to be kind and generous (so hard, sometimes!), and chosen to try to overlook his faults. It's definitely a process, and I've had to learn to be patient with myself as well as with him, but the reward has been a deeper and more committed love than I ever imagined when we were newlyweds.

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  12. Grandma H – I love that quote. Time makes it more and more true, doesn't it?

    Kerri – WB's poem was a perfect addition to this discussion. Thank you! "choosing again what I chose before." I think it rather telling that of all the definitions we can come up with for love, choice is the one most everyone has returned to. And this is so wise Kerri: "I think we’re best defined by what we choose to love." Definitely something to think about.

    Anne Marie – I love your recount of your 15th anniversary. So true to life and love. I had to laugh, after writing this post, Doug read a line I had in the original text about something from our dating years and he completely disagreed with me. I was sure I was right. He was sure he was right. Two perspectives. Two eyes. Two stories. Funny. Thanks for bringing Lehi's great sermon about opposition into the discussion. It is that principle that gives every emotion depth and power. As always, I love your insights. xo

    Michelle – I understand what you are saying about love being both a choice and a gift – how the two work together. I agree with you. Choice opens us to receive the gift fully. Thank you.

    Paula – Yes, we are tethered so briefly to this life. It is good to remember what matters. Thanks for your comment.

    Melissa M – "the reward has been a deeper and more committed love than I ever imagined when we were newlyweds." I love all these perspectives from women further down the road. Today I read this from Elder Scott's talk in April Conference: "It is so rewarding to be married. Marriage is wonderful. In time you begin to think alike and have the same ideas and impressions." I find this fascinating. That a committed love (like you speak of Melissa) can become so unified. Thanks for your wonderful thoughts.

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  13. You posted this on my 6th anniversary. We spent our dinner out trying hard not to argue about my recent decision to leave the church and what that means for our children. We have a great marriage, and for the first time I feel like we've come across something that has a real chance at tearing us apart. I so badly don't want it to.

    So thanks for this. I know it sounds trite, but love really is the cement that holds people together. It's what makes the long fight worth it. Wish us luck.

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  14. "Marriage is like that sometimes. Glowing and perfect one moment. The next? You’re wondering how you thought you had so much in common."

    Boy is that true. We have literally had those days where one moment, I'm gushing over what a wonderful man I married then the next, yelling at him for something trivial.

    Thank you for this 🙂

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  15. Conifer – My heart goes out to you. I can't imagine the difficult discussions you must be having. I am relieved your marriage is good. And I hear your heart when you say, "I don't want it [to tear us apart]." Prayers for you. God allows each of us the privilege of choice. It is sacred enough that even He, who knows us best and sees the long-term perspective (where we have been and where He needs us to go) will not stay our hands or minds. I have no idea the circumstances surrounding your decision, and I don't want to offer you advice. I feel, however, to share with you something Elder Marion D. Hanks told me once. I was young, just graduating from High School. "Stay on the path, but question everything" he said. Over the years I have appreciated this counsel more and more. There is definitely room for questioning. God wants it of us. Yet, within that place, He also wants our commitment to His way. The path to me means "the word" – continually immersing myself in the scriptures. This has helped me know truth and what God needs me to do at every crossroad. I am adding you to my prayers. I hope you don't mind me sharing this with you. I really appreciate the honesty of your comment. Blessings and love to you. And your family.

    Laura – So glad that line resonates with someone else! ps – Do you have a favorite sushi place in SLC?

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  16. Catherine — thanks. Things are looking a little better today, but I know this will be a bumpy journey. On the quote you provided — "stay on the path, but question everything" — that's pretty much what I was doing that led me, very sincerely, away. In a lot of ways I feel like it's still what I'm doing, though I know most LDS members would disagree. It's just a slightly different path.

    Thankfully I have no ill feeling toward the church and still regard it as a net positive. If I didn't this would be a whole lot harder. But really, this last little while has proven to both my husband and I how much we really do love each other. In many ways this is just one more way to grow closer together through hard times.

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  17. Conifer – Glad to hear things are a little better. I don't know if your questions fall into the realm of intellectual vs. faith. Most do. And I understand. There will always be paradox and the inability to reconcile certain parts of the church's history or doctrine perfectly. A friend of mine recently shared this article with me and I thought it was very sound and wise. It is by Ross Spencer, from BYU Magazine, called Learning in the Light of Faith. His subtitle reads, "In balancing scholarship and faith, sometimes we can’t see how everything fits together into a complete picture, but we can have faith that the picture exists. " I have found that there's a fine line between questioning and doubt. Questioning is good. But doubt (and criticism) are destructive to our faith.

    http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2626

    So maybe this will be helpful? I also realized recently that reading my scriptures, the last conference issue, and going to RS – just doing the things we're supposed to be doing, may at times seem rote or small, but there is Spirit in it. These actions keep us connected to God and others. Just my thoughts. And I hope they don't feel preachy. That's not my intent. I'll be keeping you in my prayers. It sounds like you've been blessed with a wonderful gift. That of love in your marriage, even in challenging times. And the fact that you have no ill feelings toward the church says much about your heart. I'll be thinking of you.

    Lee Ann – love that. Who's the singer/songwriter?

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  18. I don't think I have anything amazing to add, but finally reading this post, I'm astounding at the writing. Fantastic job! I hope I can have that some day.

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