Look. I get it. Marriage is hard work. There is no such thing as happily ever after. No movie ever shows you what happens after that fireworks laden, sunset kiss. What happens is this:
Budgeting your finances, deciding who's doing the dishes, silently cursing your partner because they can never, ever close the box of cereal properly, arguing about the way someone said something and what it meant, sighing in frustration because the person who used to listen, rapt, to your every word is zoning out on the football game or Facebook or whatever they zone out on. And if you have kids, or aging parents or pets then there's more. Arguments about philosophies, splitting of duties, nasty diapers and blankets full of vomit. There are moments when you want to get in your car and drive away and never come back.
I'm painting a pretty bleak picture, aren't I?
And so are so many others who write about love and relationships. I have read so many articles and books, stressing the fact that there is no happily ever after and that marriage is hard work. And I agree with that. But I have something else to say:
Love is real.
Love is real, dammit!
Romantic, outside yourself, sweep you off your feet, breathtaking love is real. It does exist. And for all these writers and philosophizers about love to say that it doesn't... That those beginning feelings are simply lust and that they fade away.... That negates the experience I have and the experience other people have.
Just because someone hasn't experienced God, is not a good reason to tell everyone that there's not a God.
And just because someone hasn't experienced falling in love, is not a good reason to say that it doesn't exist.
Today I read this article about five ways to secure your "happyish ever after" and I decided to make my own list.
Five ways to be with the one you love/love the one you're with.
1. LOVE YOUR SELF. I'll say it again. Love yourself love yourself love yourself.
Honestly. If you love, respect, accept, and are true to yourself... you will have all the above reality of life with a partner...but you will also really and truly and deep down, be happy. (How to do that? Well, I have some ideas but I'm pretty sure much of the whole human race is trying to figure that one out)
2. Find someone who LOVES HIM/HER/THEIR SELF. Seriously, if you are true to you and you can find someone who is also true to them? You will find that life can be pretty awesome at times. Sometimes it'll feel awesome a lot of the time and sometimes it will feel awesome just some of the time. Which brings me to:
3. There's no happily ever after BUT there are natural ups and downs and loop-de-loops that occur in every relationship. Sometimes you will look at your partner and think that you are so lucky to be with that person and you will just want to plant kisses all over their face. Or at least the first part. And sometimes you will look at your partner and think "Shut. The. Fuck. Up.. or I will scream!" You will love each other, like each other, admire each other, be envious of each other and despise each other in turns. And if you can be real about that? You'll have some wonderful opportunities for connection and understanding.
4. Sex is natural and lovely and weird and messy. All of it. Sex within a relationship is as different and varied as the two (or more) people having it. Sex, just like marriage, takes work. You have to communicate your needs and listen to the needs of your partner(s) and you have to let go and be vulnerable. And it turns out, the more you enjoy yourself, the more your partner will enjoy sex with you. It's okay to want to, to not want to, and in all its varieties and forms and ways...as long as it is consensual (definitely wanted by all involved), unexploited, honest, and mutually pleasurable. If those ingredients are there... YAY! But that takes all kinds of communication.
5. Yeah, Marriage is an institution. It's also a contract. And so are all kinds of other partnerships too. So make sure that as you grow as a person and the person you're with grows as a person, that you check in and re-think the terms of your contract. Make sure that ten years later, you have fully communicated your needs, wants and desires to your partner and you've allowed them to communicate theirs. Your contract terms will have changed. Let that person KNOW that! Because the partnership/marriage/relationship is one thing. But LOVE is another. And if you have it, I believe it does not go away. It changes and fades and intensifies and ebbs and flows. But it is possible not to fall out of love.
That big beyond you love. The kind in the books and the movies. And I know, those books and movies don't paint an accurate picture of what the lifetime of a relationship is like. But they were written and made because somebody felt those feelings. Of love. Real love. I believe in it.