The Love of My Life
I recently saw this tweet from Idina Menzel and had the reaction I always have when I hear (or in this case, see) the phrase “the love of my life.” It’s the combination of a slight eye roll and a sick feeling in my stomach. The expression has long occupied a place on what some would say is my long list of pet peeves. But, before you write me off as a hater or someone who is hopelessly unromantic, hear me out.
Generally, when I’ve heard someone say their current partner is the love of their life, it has been said by someone in their 30s or early 40s. At that age you have only lived half of your life or less, so how do you really know that something or someone is the best of your entire life? Do these people really mean “of my life so far” and I’m just being a stickler for details? Maybe they think the words “so far” reduce the expression from the romantic to the realistic.
My second reason for cringing at the phrase is that most people I’ve heard say it are on their second marriage. In the example of Menzel, she was married to actor Taye Diggs for 10 years and they have a son. With her tweet, Menzel seemed to be telegraphing that her love for Diggs was somehow less than what’s she’s experiencing now. Maybe that’s true, but do we need to know? Does Diggs need to know?
I guess if you’re the former spouse you already know that something was missing, otherwise the two of you would still be together. It just doesn’t seem like comparisons are necessary. If you think that some kind of ranking is in order, you could share that information exclusively with your new love.
I think we rank because on some level it makes us feel good about moving forward with the new relationship and having ended the previous one. I’m actually not convinced that most new partners are so much better. I think they’re mostly just different. Second spouses usually have qualities that were lacking in their predecessor, but they often don’t have certain desirable characteristics possessed by that first husband or wife.
Finding love and deciding to marry a second time is certainly worthy of celebration. For that matter, creating a loving partnership for the first time is wonderful too. However, if you’re younger than 75 or this is your second (or third) marriage, I’m going to respectfully ask you to withhold any public “of my life” proclamations.