I haven’t been updating here much lately. After blogging for Weddingbee and then subsequently starting a craft blog and a photography blog, I think I went through major blogging burnout. I began writing privately again about more thoughtful, personal stuff than I usually write here. So, I figured I’d try something a little different and share something from my private blog. It’s just an experiment and it’s not stamping/cooking related. So feel free to skip this one and hopefully I’ll be back to my crafty, blogging self soon. Or stay and read to take a glimpse inside my jumbled little brain.
On Relationships, Soulmates, and Hollywood Romance
My friends and I have been talking a lot about relationships lately. So, I’ve been thinking about what makes a healthy relationship and why some work couples out and some don’t. I used to believe in the idea of soulmates; the one person in the universe that would be my perfect match. I don’t anymore. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in true love. Indeed, I very much do.
I’ve dated a lot of good men in the past—mature guys of integrity who treat their mothers with respect and tell the truth to their girlfriends, even when it’s harder than lying. These were guys that looked into my eyes and not at my chest when they talked to me, the kind of men every father wants his daughter to marry. But with all these good men, I could never stay happy in a relationship. Why?
For all of my life, I believed love was something that would complete me and make my troubles disappear. True love would was the solution to feel lovely, happy, and beautiful. When I found it, I’d be the confident, bold person I always desired to be. So, I built pedestals for my boyfriends to stand on and gave up many things for them, sometimes relocating hundreds of miles. They were going to make my life exciting and full of meaning, and we were supposed to have a romance like Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. When found the one, I’d finally know what I’d been missing all my life.
As you can imagine, my expectations were all too much of a burden for anyone to carry. No one could ever live up to them. And so, my search continued, one relationship after another, always ending in disappointment.
* * * *
If someone asked me ten years ago if I believed in soulmates, I’d have said yes. Today, I say no. In fact, I’m going to write something seemingly unromantic, something controversial that I’ve come to believe and even told Andrew: I don’t believe my husband is the only person I could have married.
Now that I’m married and in the longest and healthiest relationship I’ve been able to hold together, I can say this for certain: Andrew is just a guy. I’m just a girl. Andrew and I, we love each other to pieces, we have amazing conversations and we diligently work to build our relationship with precious memories. We’re the best of friends and I turn to him for support, wisdom, and affection. But I know one truth: I am not going to find the meaning of life in our marriage. He isn’t going to solve my problems or fill the missing pieces. And he feels the same. In other words, we have low expectations. And it frees us to love everything about each other and enjoy a deep, soulful companionship.
Sounds bad, doesn’t it? But it’s not what it seems. If you think about it, it’s a really beautiful thing, this freedom to love someone with no expectations. It’s the stuff that unconditional love is made of. When hardships occur in my life, I don’t expect Andrew to fix them. I just give him room to join me as a companion while I walk through the issues. If I have a bad day at work, I don’t ask him to erase it when he gets home; I don’t release my annoyance on the dirty dishes he left in the sink. Instead, we’ll go for takeout together and I’ll vent with him over a bowl of wonton soup. He is my partner, not my savior. Loving him with low expectations gives me freedom to appreciate him for who he is and what he contributes to our marriage. It’s love in its purest form.
In my past relationships, I only thought of my needs, my desires, and finding someone who could satisfy them. It took a few years of soul searching and a whole lot of accepting/forgiving myself and other people in my life before I realized, only I could fill my needs and desires. No man was going to do it for me. It was then that I was ready to have a mature relationship.
When Andrew came along, I was finally able to make a conscious decision to sacrifice my expectations and demolish the pedestals I built. I could keep a healthy relationship, one in which I didn’t lose myself, because I finally had a sense of self. So in a way, with the timing of it all, Andrew really was the only person I could’ve married. I suppose if I hadn’t met him, maybe eventually, someone else would’ve come along and perhaps we would’ve made it work. Or maybe not. But Andrew was there at the right place and the right time and I was there at the right place and the right time. It started with a mutual respect, sprinkled with some great conversation and chemistry. We discovered our personalities complemented each other, we shared the same faith and vision for our lives, and we decided we could live with each others’ faults. So, we chose to love each other and make it work.
Is that a totally unromantic, pragmatic view of love? Some might say so. But, I think it’s beautiful. Because the truth is, life isn’t made of the stuff of Hollywood movies. Why are Hollywood romances are so popular? It’s because they aren’t reality. We want to believe that the passion and romance reflected on big screen relationships comes naturally and lasts forever. It doesn’t. Real passion and romance needs to be fostered with trust and cultivated with care. Real love is messy, annoying, and burdensome at times because it involves humans. And humans are messy, annoying, and burdensome at times. Real love is a daily, sacrificial choice. We choose to love even when we don’t feel like it.
That’s the beauty of it all… if two people can commit to love through the grit, grime, and monotony of human imperfection, well, that’s more valuable than anything a Hollywood movie studio can dream up.