Settling In

A couple months back, I noticed something. I noticed that my New Relationship Energy with Gabe, as I had known it, was gone. The burning intensity that had me soaring through most of the last two years, that lent a solar-flare kind of yellow-white light to everything, was no longer doing that.

And I have to admit, if I’m being completely honest, that I had assumed on some level that it would always be there. It would be that way because we’re special, or we’re the exception to the rule, or because we work so hard, or… yeah, I hadn’t quite worked the reason out. Some part of my brain just figured we’d never lose it.

I panicked a little when I noticed it missing. I realized that I had very little idea or expectations of what replaces NRE in a romantic relationship. Now, when it comes to relationship structure and communication? Oh sure, I have that analyzed up one side and down the other at any given point in time. I knew well where we were headed with that. But for the fire, the passion, the fuel of a romance? I hadn’t come to this place in a healthy relationship before, and I really didn’t know what kind of fuel comes next. I did realize I had a culture’s worth of messages that the dying of the spark was inevitable. I knew I wanted there to be more, that I’ve always wanted there to be lasting passion possible in a relationship. But I had no practical experience, and almost no stories or role models to pull from. I wondered if we really would have sex less than we used to. I was aware of NRE bubbling off his other relationship, and I wondered if I’d come to resent that.

I finally said to him out loud, a few weeks after I had noticed… that I thought our NRE had faded. Gabe felt there were differences, sure. But he said, in a matter of fact way, that he always thought the best stuff came after NRE. That one comment was enough to shake me out of my worry and my cultural baggage to notice what had actually been going on between us. With the blinding shine wiped off the surface, I can peer in and see what’s present in the depths.

The sex is richer every time. We have accumulated so much information about one another, that we can traverse complex explorations of our bodies and psyches with ease. We can reach in further, and we know the paths to deeper spaces. Sometimes, we dance our fucking through rhythms we’ve practiced until they’re smooth and silky. The urgency that’s let up in our romance has also let up in our emotional life; the obstacles and growth spurts that occur are not so all-encompassing, and we can ride them with more comfort and peace. Gabe’s NRE, and the unique beauty of them and their relationship, reflects back into us and multiplies the feeling that the Holy Spirit surrounds us all.

He and I still have fierceness and intensity and brilliance. But instead of being splashed across the surface, they’re currents flowing in richer, deeper waters. Instead of the earlier, intense yellow-white, we have all kinds of vivid hues shifting and playing around us and through us. Maybe they’ve been there a long while, but I couldn’t see them.

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