love stories

Love Stories

Two weeks ago, my daughter came into town to shop for her wedding dress. We carefully planned our day and the places we would shop. Our first stop was a beautiful vintage shop in Ballard.

The salesperson took us to their back room where their vintage wedding dresses were stored. As we entered, I could feel the whispers of history. I could feel the love stories. The room seemed to be a container for all the memories of past couples who committed their lives to each other.

The room was haunted, but not in a scary way. It was haunted by the energy of human spirits expressing their belief in love. To me, it seemed as if the spirits were trying to remind me to love without reservation, because life is so short and fleeting.

As we settled in, I noticed there were wedding pictures scattered around the room; each telling a silent love story; each representing our universal hope for love.  As my daughter tried on different dresses, I took the time to study the faces in the wedding pictures.

I tried to look into the eyes of the brides and grooms to see what they might have been feeling that day and to hear their words of wisdom.

I wanted to ask each of them:

  • What were your hopes and dreams that day as you started your life together?
  • What were your fears?
  • What were your finest, most joyful moments together?
  • What were your hardest and darkest moments?
  • Did your love last? Did it get stronger or did it fade away?
  • What love story did they pass onto their children and grandchildren?

And as I pondered all of this and studied the wedding pictures, I felt overwhelmingly inspired by the beautiful longing of the human spirit to be deeply and completely loved.

The wedding ritual crystallizes our hopes and dreams for creating a life of love and joy. As couples vow to love, cherish, and honor each other, we are witnesses to the belief in the healing, transforming, and eternal power of love.

As I looked at those wedding pictures that day in the store, I was once again reminded that humans have an amazing capacity and resiliency to love even as we accept the the possibilities of heartache and pain.

Even with uncertainty and the acknowledgment that life consists, not only of moments of joy, but also of moments of pain, fear, anger, loneliness and grief, we choose to open our hearts up to love. We still seek out a companion to be the shelter in the storm, to be a source of comfort. We still desire deep and abiding intimacy.

It would be so easy for all of us, given the world today, to turn our backs on love. It would be easy to choose to be cynical and angry and mistrustful. It would be easy to believe that life, and all its challenges, are too big to be conquered or that they are too big to be soothed by love. It would be easy to live with an “every-man/woman-for themselves” mentality. And yet we do not.

More often than not, even after we have been hurt and betrayed and disillusioned, we believe in and pursue love. We seek it out, knowing that the ways in which it strengthens us to face, and perhaps, overcome challenges, illness, and crises far outweighs any heartache and pain we may experience.

We choose to be hopeful and believe in love lasting a lifetime. We choose to believe in the goodness and trustworthiness of others. We choose to believe in our own hearts and trust ourselves.

And this is not only true for the traditional, monogamous couple. This is true for all humans. This longing and belief in love is the universal experience whether we are married, co-habitating, straight, gay, transgender, single, have consensual non-monogamous and polyamorous relationships, thrive in a supportive community of friends or whether we are just learning how to love ourselves.

So, remember that Valentine’s Day is not just for couples in love. It is for all of us. Because we all share the desire to be deeply loved.

Perhaps you can mark this February 14th, 2018, to be a day to renew your belief in the power of love.

I am going to do it. I hope that you join me.

Peace in the journey,


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Jane Ryan

Jane Ryan, M.A., LMFT, is a Licensed Couples and Family Therapist with twenty years of clinical experience. She specializes in intimate relationships, sexual challenges, sacred sexuality, and helping clients embrace their true erotic nature. She supports women in discovering their most radiant, vibrant and powerful feminine essence.