Love Sucks, but You Can’t Beat It
If love in the real world were like the love seen in movies, we probably wouldn’t need the Hollywood romcoms. We’d be living them. You’d find Mr. Right after a series of amusing hijinx wherein he serves as your fake wedding date, pines for years over you before you’ve even begun dating, and/or gets into a fight with Mr. Right Now – who may or may not be a jerk, but it doesn’t really matter since he’ll obligingly vanish from the face of the Earth. And once the hijinx are over, you’ll get married, be happy, and never have a second thought because… well just because. WARNING:
If you’re a hopeless romantic, searching for Prince Charming or Miss Marvelous, you’d better leave now. Because I’m about to steamroll any Disney-drenched happily-ever-after scenarios you have in mind. I’m starting my engine. Go now while your ideals are still intact. You can get yourself some Danielle Steel on Kindle.
Okay…I warned you.
“What’s with everyone going on about the ‘hard work’ of marriage?” I used to think. “If it’s so hard, it mustn’t be true love. True love has a meant-to-be-ness about it that’s gotta make everything easier. Like, if it’s THAT hard, then it just ain’t right. Right?” Uh huh.
My relationship with my own self is complicated, how could I expect it to be simple with someone else?
But I was single at the time. My panties matched my bras, my principles matched my big hair, and my astronomical phone bills matched my knack for getting involved with men who lived on the other side of the country. (The long distance fed my romantic longings. Longing. Always loonnnging.)
I’ve done some homework since then. Home. Work.
THE SHITTY FACTS MY RELATIONSHIP RESEARCH HAS UNCOVERED:
1. I don’t know a single couple with an easy, let alone blissful, marriage.
Okay. ONE couple: Donna and Brad. But they met when they were in their late forties. Brad’s wife had passed away. Donna was just out of a long termer. Within months of declaring their total and utter devotion, Brad discovered that he had cancer. They fought it with every known form of alternative therapy, and every dime and ounce of faith they had. They’re still going strong. It really is the stuff of love stories.
But back to the rest of us normal, non-Buddhist schmucks who got hitched earlier in life…
2. Most of my married friends have seriously considered leaving their mates more than once.
3. Within just the first year of marriage, at least half of my married friends and acquaintances thought to themselves, “What the hell have I done?”
4. Of all the longtime wed folks I’ve surveyed, each reported long, hellish periods in their relationship where they were merely enduring each other to get by.
Bubbles burst. Dreams get steamrolled. Imperfections and cruelties of life are made glaringly clear. Crap facts noted. Love stinks.
And love keeps going in spite of it all.
THE DELIGHTFUL, SWEET AND RADIANT FACTS MY RELATIONSHIP RESEARCH HAS UNCOVERED:
1. I have friends whose confessed infidelities blew a cyclone through their lives.
And they sorted through the wreckage to build something better than before. “The affair was the best thing that ever happened to us,” they say.
2. Couples who’ve rallied to beat addictions, have sweated and toiled to overcome them – tirelessly and without rest, because everything depends on victory.
3. One of my wisest friends figures that it took about thirty years for him and his wife to simply be nice to each other.
Now there is a certain euphoria in their familiarity. A grace has settled in. He says that sometimes it’s magical.
So if you’re out there thinking that the smoochy hot couple has got it easy, ha! Think again. If you’re down to a teaspoon of hope, envying the love stories on the other side of the fence, remember that while they were smiling for the cameras, Joanne Woodward was putting up with Paul Newman’s boozing in the early years. Fridah Kahlo’s beloved Diego chased skirts all through Mexico and New York. Cleopatra waited a long time for her man.
Love and doubt aren’t exclusive. In fact, they can be the most fantastic dance partners. Give and take. Trust and turn.
Bliss requires sweat.
It requires work, and a lot of it. It requires compromises, scheduling time to be together and even the occasional fighting. It also requires endurance when dealing with the rocky times, and really getting to know your partner, learning the most important things about them – which takes years, rather than months. It’s certainly worth it. But you can’t even come close to bliss without those years of sweat. It just doesn’t work that way. Sorry, Danielle Steel.
**Repurposed by Amy Kisaka, a staff writer for Goddess Connections’ publications Women Who Run it.
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