Robin Jean Marie Conte Robin’s Nest
Robin Jean Marie Conte
Robin’s Nest

When my twins were but elementary school boys, one of them developed a crush on a girl. Upon learning this sweet tidbit, I did what I do in embarrassing situations — pry information from the twin brother. So I asked twin brother, “Does she like him?” To which he responded enthusiastically, “Yes! It’s like a miracle!”

Even at the tender age of 10, my son recognized the simple wonder of requited love: that returned affection is a phenomenon not to be taken lightly. It doesn’t happen every day, it doesn’t even happen every lifetime, and if and when it does happen, it is a small miracle.

So what is this thing called love, and how does it stay alive? Four children and a couple of decades after my own wedding day, I feel like I should have some answers. But I don’t. I do, however, have some thoughts.

I heard in a high school English class that “love is friendship caught fire” and I have yet to come across a tidier definition. It has taken a whole heap of friendship and just enough sparks to keep this marriage going.

It has also been said that love isn’t an emotion, it’s a commitment, and a recent viewing of “Fiddler on the Roof” at a neighborhood playhouse brought that statement to my mind.

It was the song, “Do You Love Me?” that did it.

In the song, the protagonist Tevye asks Golde, his wife of 25 years by an arranged marriage, “Do you love me?” There is such poignancy in that question, in the fact that after 25 years of marriage he must ask, and that she avoids answering.

She responds with a list of domestic chores that she has done dutifully throughout their life together. He continues prodding, and Golde replies, “For 25 years I’ve lived with him, fought him, starved with him. For 25 years, my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?” Finally, they both admit that yes, they do love each other after all, and that (this is the part that really chokes me up) “after 25 years… it’s nice to know.”

I cried, as I do every time I hear it. And I realize that commitment is exactly what Golde was singing about. Commitment was the glue that held those two initial strangers together, and from that commitment, love grew.

Something else about the lyrics struck me: That period of time that seems so noteworthy when set to music and sung onstage is the milestone that my husband and I have just hit. I think now of our own ups and downs, the years raising children together, the years of supporting each other in our trials and achievements, of working out our differences…the years spent learning who we married. And I am astounded that a quarter of a century has passed like a wisp.

This past June, my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. It’s been a bit like a marathon…and a lot like a miracle.

Robin Jean Marie Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at robinjm@earthlink.net.

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.