I remember very well one of my exes saying during one of our “lovers’ quarrels” that she didn’t think our relationship would require so much work. On the one hand, it was perhaps an accurate indictment of the state of our relationship at that point in time. I mean, she is a EX of mine with good reason. But on another level, there is a bit of naiveté as to what effort is necessary in order to sustain a meaningful union.
The truth is some of us (male, female or transgender) are currently living in a fantasy, a great fairy-tale on how relationships work. They feel that “all we need is love and passion” to carry a relationship on a sea of tranquility. While love and passion are the fuels of any relationship, it does take some work in order to navigate many of the choppy waters life presents us with.
Simply put, whatever they are drinking, I’m not so sure I want that. It seems too Hollywood-esque for my taste. While I wish that everything in life was that easy, love built on those foundations are akin to the first two houses in the Three Little Pigs fable.
As a young person at the time who was new to the game of love, I did what anyone with a scholarly approach would: talk to his Elders. In this case, these were people married for 25+ years who dropped some interesting words of wisdom. There was one particular nugget from those conversations I forgot all about until a coworker of mine (married for over 2 decades herself) brought it up recently:
Angie M: You want to know what’s the best way to stay married?
Me: Sure – what’s the secret?
Angie M: Staying married.
Me (with a confused look): Huh?
Angie M: Yes, staying married. Staying married means you don’t quit on it. Some days you don’t agree, some days you can’t stand your partner, but you stick with it and not bail at the first sign of trouble. You might not always like them all the time, but you surely love them every day.
Does it mean you put up with crap? Of course not. As difficult as it is though, most times we can tell when it is best to pick up sticks and move on. People may stay “too long” for different reasons, such as pride, finances, not wanting to be alone, fear, etc. Still, what Angie M. speaks of is more to the idea that we don’t often see in those 2.5 hour films and 12 episode a season series – it takes work to make a life with someone. It’s what makes making a life and having a fling inherently different – the real feel of having someone there with you who is completely invested for the long haul that you can still be as passionate with in different ways as the first day you laid eyes on them.
It hurts when you find out that the one you thought would stick by you bailed at the first sign of storm clouds. Sometimes it takes us being left at the altar or being in the darkest hour to know who we can count on, and those whose love runs the deepest. But as painful as it may seem, it’s better to know who the person is standing beside you so you can decide with clarity if the way forward is together or apart.
After all, would you want someone to always bail on you at the first sign of trouble?