This I Believe Essays About Love

My husband gets up first to shower, giving me an extra twenty minutes to sleep. He wakes me with a kiss on my forehead and whispers he loves me. Then he leaves without turning on any lights, so I get five more minutes. He unloads the dishwasher and makes the decaf coffee we began drinking when we decided to start trying to conceive more than a year ago. When I emerge from my shower, my coffee is ready—two sugars, cream—and he hands me the paper. We speak little. Morning Edition and old-fashioned oatmeal bubble in the background.

At the end of the day, I cook supper, giving my husband half an hour to watch the news without interruption. After the weather report, he sits down at the table and watches while I finish cooking our meal. We eat and talk. Mostly we talk about what has to be done—groceries to buy, grass to mow, bills to pay—and I mention that the door still sticks. After dinner, if the weather is nice, we go for a walk, maybe watch a little TV. Bedtime comes at nine-thirty. When the lights are out, we confess the things that worry us, drawing strength from each other’s nearness.

I believe this is love.

When I was a child I thought a lot about what it means to love. I knew the romantic ideals of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but it was the love story of Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder that I returned to again and again. In contrast, their love story was so stark and so deliberate, and it alone continued beyond the ever after.

I once asked my mother if she loved me or my father more, certain I knew the answer: me. Instead, she bent down and looked me in the eye, hands gently on each shoulder. She explained that she couldn’t help loving me and that the love of a mother for her baby was incredibly strong. But then she told me that the love she had for my daddy was a love of choice, which made it extra special. Of all the people in the world, she chose him and he chose her.

I would think about her declaration often in the coming years as my parents adjusted to my mom’s new career outside the home and coped with raising a teenager. When my parents sometimes couldn’t have a conversation without turning it into an argument, I suspect they, too, thought about their choices.

Now that I’m married, I consider each day what it takes to stay married—and in love—as long as my parents have. It’s not that I don’t believe in romance and the extravagant spontaneity of last-minute weekend trips or witty conversation over champagne brunches. But I believe more in the sacred of the ordinary. I believe in love that is sustained by deliberate kindness and the choice to see little acts as testaments of love and commitment rather than indicators of a spark that has died—of love communicated each time he cooks oatmeal and I schedule his dental appointment. This picture of love is certainly less exciting, but decidedly real, and in its own way more romantic because of the weight of its reality.

So, in the small silences of our predictable, boring day, I choose him, and I choose love, all over again.

Jessica Mercer Zerr is a Senior Lecturer and Administrative Director of Composition at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, where she resides with her husband, Ryan, and sons, Eli and Caleb. This love she chooses has continued to reveal its quiet beauty for nearly fifteen years.

Independently produced by John Gregory for This I Believe, Inc.

Copyright © 2005-2018 This I Believe, Inc., all rights reserved. Please contact This I Believe, Inc., regarding reprints and permissions requests at

I believe love is steadfast.

My parents have a great big cat at home named Comet. We think he’s at least part Maine coon—he has great big ears, a very large head, huge feet, and a laid-back, mellow personality—but we have no way of knowing for sure. He came from the local animal shelter. My brother and I didn’t really want him, since he was a kitten and we wanted to adopt an adult cat because we thought the kittens would be more likely to find another home, but my little sister insisted.

We brought two cats home that day. Harry had the sniffles at the time, and Comet soon caught them. Unfortunately, where Harry quickly perked up after some medicine, Comet nearly died. He shrank to skin and bones; his fur was falling out, each of his ribs was clearly visible, and his eyes swelled almost shut. He was terrible to look at, and I was afraid to touch him. The poor thing desperately needed love and care, but I shied away from him.

Some years later, now a college student, I went home one afternoon after having had an emotional breakdown. My whole life was upside down; I could not go on without cutting some things out of my life, but the only things I could think to cut were the only things worth doing. I felt hollow, dead, an empty shell of a person. I had failed. I had no idea what pieces were even worth picking up again.

I found Comet curled up in a pile of laundry that afternoon. He’d been asleep, but he lifted his head and looked at me when I came in. Dully, I reached a hand toward him. He nuzzled it, immediately burst into a deep, loud purr, and gave me a perfectly content cat grin. I moved my hand down to scratch his back and sides, and he stretched luxuriously, lolling and showing off his belly to be rubbed, giving me looks of absolute adoration.

At that point, it hit me: this cat loved me. The cat I didn’t want, the cat I couldn’t bear to take care of when his life depended on it, loved me. And he always would love me. No matter how I failed, no matter what was going on in my life, no matter what I did, Comet would still nap in clean laundry, would still look up from that nap when I entered the room, would still love to be touched by me.

I believe love is steadfast. I believe that real love, whether it comes from God, a spouse, or a shelter cat, is offered unswervingly and unconditionally. Love doesn’t consider past transgressions; love doesn’t wait to make sure it will be returned; love isn’t looking for something better and settling for less. We are all of us empty people, searching for meaning after our failures. Love is what enables us to pick up the pieces of our broken lives and go on, renewed, undeservedly but steadfastly.

Sarah Culp Searles is a high school librarian who believes curiosity, conversation, and a sense of play are key to what every educator is after: saving the world. She and her husband, Andy, adopted their cat, Dora, from the local animal shelter. They make their home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Independently produced by Dan Gediman for This I Believe, Inc.

Copyright © 2005-2018 This I Believe, Inc., all rights reserved. Please contact This I Believe, Inc., regarding reprints and permissions requests at

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