“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”

This is the familiar first line of an Elizabeth Barrett Browning masterpiece. If you haven’t read the poem she wrote for her Robert, please do. It’s brief, but beautiful. Full of the passion and innocence of new love.

As I’m reading poetry today, I’m wondering this: Why can’t old love stay a little more like new love? I hear people say stuff like “love changes”, “love matures”, “love is a choice, not a feeling.”

I may be idealistic, but that sounds like a cop out. I understand love changes over time and there are times when you choose to love even when it isn’t easy or fun. Um … I’ve had some experience with that. Still, I believe love can–and should–have feelings, be full of passion, and be wildly fun. No, maybe not every moment of every day, but it could be more often than it is.

So, back to poetry … After reading Barrett Browning again, I wonder if old love’s juice is lacking because we stopped “counting the ways?” When relationship gets tough, the first response is to start keeping score. Our successes verses the other guys failures.

Years ago I used to keep a list of the things I loved about my love in my wallet. Tucked behind pics, I kept the list folded and stashed in an easy-to-get-to place. Whenever loving grew tough, I yanked that baby out. Even if hurt or frustrated, I tried to remember the ways and reasons I loved. Again, and again, and again. Until the issue blinding me started to fade in light of the goodness underneath.

Now I wonder when and why I stopped doing that.

Whether in friendship or romance (and the two are not all that different), we’re all good at keeping score. But the wrong kind of score. And keeping the right kind of score might mean the difference between a ho-hum relationship and one that reads like poetry.

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