This past weekend my husband and I just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. In a culture where love and marriage is sometimes attempted multiple times, I view this as a great blessing. It also got me to thinking about all that we have gone through over the past twelve years (fifteen if you include the years we dated) and I’ve realized a few things.
This blog post is entitled WHAT LOVE ISN’T. These are my opinions and observations from my own personal experiences and that of others around me. I’m not an expert and I realize that not everyone will agree with me. That’s totally ok. I’m just sharing what I see.
People ask me all the time how I got so lucky to find the perfect guy for me. He isn’t. And I’m not perfect for him. We are human. We make mistakes. We rant and rage at times. We hold mini grudges and fight for our “rights” but in the end, we are committed and devoted to our family. So with being said, here is my list of what love isn’t…
- Love isn’t throwaway. At that moment when you allow that to become an option, it will be. We’ve had our fair share of tough times. We’ve both made ugly mistakes. There are times in our history that I wish I could forget BUT without those valleys I know that my husband and I would never be where we are today. The love I had for my husband on the day we were married was real but it was without the same depth that I hold now. It is through the terrible times that you grow, learn and really discover who you are as a person. With that growth, as painful as it can be, comes a depth of love that can not be found in any other way.
- Love isn’t automatic. That whole love at first sight is a bunch of crap. Lust? Sure. But love? No. You cannot truly love someone until you know them. You cannot accept their pros and cons without a fond heart that develops over time. My husband and I had a whirlwind dating experience. We were pen pals from across the pond. He was all British, sexy accent and charming. It was easy to like him but I didn’t truly begin to love him in the right way until years later.
- Love isn’t condemning. This is a tough one because if you are half as stubborn as I am you know how hard it is to let go and move on sometimes. It’s not fair. I was right. Those thoughts have to be let go in order to make a relationship work. Dwelling on mistakes cannot breed love and contentment.
- Love isn’t a feeling. Ok now this one is where some people will probably balk at me but it’s true. Love is a choice. When times are tough and you want out, that is when you make the decision to stay or run. When illness strikes or a lost job sends you into a whirlwind that is when it is a choice. When there is a loss in the family that is unbearable to handle, that is a choice. Each day I choose to love my husband. I choose to forgive any moments of frustration or whiplash sarcasm that came across just a little too harsh because I choose to love him. He is human and I accept that. Just as he accepts that of me. Everyone has a bad day, month even year. Circumstances rise up that are out of our control and if your relationship is not rooted on the commitment to stick together no matter what you will crumble when you try to lean on each other.
- Love isn’t easy. Have you read what I wrote above? Life sucks sometimes. Terrible things happen. Distractions enter our lives. Temptations. Kids. Stress. You name it couples experience it. That feeling of “all is right with the world” on your wedding day wears off as soon as life smacks you in the face with reality and some people don’t like how that tastes. Look at couples who have been together for 50 years. I do, all the time. I admire them and wonder about all they have seen and done together. They made it. I want to be like them.
- Love is not a solo act. How many of those couples married for 50 years have you seen that don’t talk to each other? They sit in their own little world in a restaurant. They sit in silence on a park bench. They are together but not really. Some people like to say that’s because after 50 years they know each other so intimately that they don’t even need to speak. I truly hope that is never the case with me and my husband. He is my best friend and I want to share life with him. Laugh and joke. Far too many couples stick it out just until the kids are grown then go in separate directions. Different hobbies. Men hang out on the golf course, bars or other activities without their wives, while the gals go their own way. Life is meant to be shared otherwise you are living two separate lives under one roof.
- Love is not demanding. This is a hard one. Especially if you are like me and tend to be a teensy bit of a control freak. I like things done the way I like them. It’s just who I am. But it’s not who HE is. For those gals out there who stick with a guy in the hopes of “fixing” him please don’t do this. Your guys are who they are for a reason. If you try to bend them to what YOU think is right you will only crush their spirits as men. Accept that they do things a little different. Speak to them about ways that might help to blend your personalities. Accept that you will have to make compromises along the way. Put your relationship and family as a priority and tone down your own personal desires from time to time so that everyone benefits.
- Love does not hold a grudge. Forgiveness after a valid wrong is the HARDEST thing to do sometimes but it is the lifeblood of any relationship. You will never forget but you can forgive. Holding on to any past pain or insecurities will poison not only you personally but drive a nearly impassable wedge into the heart of your relationship. Talk about it, either together or with a therapist if needed but talk. Clamming up and holding it in will only make things worse.
- Love does not conform to what the world thinks it should be. No offense to anyone out there but with divorce rates on the rise I have zero intention of comparing my husband or our love life to the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey or Magic Mike. I am a happily married woman. I do not look outside my home for qualities of other men. I do not go to see movies or read books that speak of a love that I neither want nor feel is “real.” My husband is a million times better than Christian Grey. Why? Because he is mine. He knows me inside and out. He loves me despite my insanity some days. He is an amazing father to our son. He is a hard worker who devotes so much of his time to helping other people. He is giving and sacrificial in ways most “book boyfriends” are not. I respect him as a person and admire him. (Alright, the sappiness is over but I think you get my point!) Do not compare your husband to a character in a book or movie who is not real. Your guys can never live up to those standards and it deflates them.
- Love is not temporary. Once you decide as a couple that no matter what comes in life that you will stick together that makes confronting sorrows and trials so much easier. To know that he has your back through thick and thin gives you the confidence to spread your wings and fly. He may not always understand your dreams, or even support them in the beginning, but if he loves you he will let you try. When you work together as a team, amazing things can be accomplished.
Over the past 12 years my husband and I have gone through a lot. More than most considering my husband gave up his family and country and moved from England to America to be with me. We went through visas and green cards. Inability to work due to his legal statues to career and life changing decisions. I lost my mother to cancer of the heart (a VERY rare diagnosis) mere months after we got married. Difficult pregnancy. Struggling to understand and cope in embracing a child with autism and Ehlers-Danlos disease. Trying to find my own path amongst the battles life threw at us and countless other mini crisis that came our way.
Through it all we have held true to one saying “I would rather suffer defeat with you than success with anyone else.”
That family motto still rings true today. This past weekend we celebrated 12 years of marriage but I know that it is only the beginning.