The hubs and I are celebrating 16 years of marriage (to each other) this week. I do not believe he’s my ‘one true love’ and not because he leaves his socks on the floor and seems incapable of closing a kitchen cupboard door. I didn’t find my one true love because the whole idea is hooey.
When Cole Porter wrote about true love, when Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly immortalized true love in High Society, they sold us a bill of tainted goods. When we seek out our Prince Charming or Prince Philip and expect the magical power of true love’s kiss to ‘fix’ things, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Here’s the thing, I don’t believe in love at first sight. I do not have a true love out there. If there’s one thing 16 years of marriage has taught me it’s that the happy, life-is-perfect, bliss-mirage lasts a remarkably short amount of time and you’re left with the harsh reality that you married a human who can’t read your mind, doesn’t do everything the way you would, doesn’t agree with everything you say/do, has bad habits and irritating quirks you never saw coming.
And that’s when love becomes a choice.
To assume you have one true love means there’s this ultimate ‘right guy/girl’ for you. And everytime you disagree, you tear into each other, you’re alone in bed crying – the questions creep in:
Did I marry the wrong person? Why isn’t our sex life better – what if we’re incompatible sexually — what if it’s better with someone else?
What if your spouse screws up – BIG? Does that mean you’re off the hook? Just start over and keep looking because somewhere out there is the ‘perfect’ person for you. Where love is easy and the path is covered in rose petals, where neither of you has baggage from the past or a shred of selfishness. If you look long enough – hard enough – you’ll find that one person God made just for you.
Hogwash – as my grandmother would say. Too many arranged marriages work out. Too many widows and widowers find love with another person for there to be such a thing as finding true love.
We get caught up in the emotional high of it all when we first meet someone, when the relationship blooms, when we decide whether this is the person we want to spend the rest of our life with. That high is addictive but deceiving because it’s not something you can maintain.
When the socks hit the floor, when they overspend again, when they get mad at you — love is a choice. The only one responsible for my happiness is me. I put that on the Hubs and I’m just setting him up to fail.
Love is a verb, not a state of being. You can’t fall in or out of love – you choose to surrender or harden your heart to another person. That’s a choice.The hubs and I have been through a lot of not so good times. We’ve had a lot of laughs and adventures, but there’s been some hum-drum ruts and serious rough patches. Love is a choice, just like forgiveness, trust, respect, and friendship. Sometimes it’s not fair, sometimes it just plain sucks — but you keep at it because somewhere along the way all that hard work, sweat, and tears pays off. There’s a bond forged in the hard times – in staying for no other reason than you promised God you wouldn’t leave.
After 16 years, 3 kids, 7 moves, several jobs, an addiction, and a ridiculous amount of student debt – we have a history together. I know his expressions, can anticipate many of his moods and reactions. We can look at each other and smile, because we have a thousand inside jokes.
Marriage is hard. If you’re struggling in your relationship, assuming all things are equal and no one’s being abused or mistreated, etc. (there are some things time can’t fix) — stick it out. In my experience, the hard work, tears, fights — it all adds up to a history you can’t buy and only time can build. This is a marathon not a sprint. But every day, love is a choice — loving someone is a choice. Wake up every day with the resolve to surrender your heart to your spouse, and take nothing for granted. You’ll be glad you did.
Time to fess up! Did you marry your one true love?