In many ways, true love is similar to marriage or having children. We have romantic fantasies—fueled by society—about these life choices. And yet, rarely do we think—what makes them really work? Often—more thought and expense—is spent on planning the wedding than on planning the marriage. Couples find—once the honeymoon is over—that they know little about each other or don’t share common values.
Similarly, the idea of having a baby feels like giggles and trips to the park—that dies when you have triplets, your baby has colic, won’t take a bottle or has special needs. Yet, this is being a parent. But it’s a shock if you don’t think about it and commit in advance.
True love includes both big and small acts. Because love is action, love is work, and love is a decision.
These life choices—while wonderful—are also work. Most things of value are. Every day, couples get divorced. Every day, fussy babies are ignored or worse, mistreated—because the responsibility inherent in marriage and parenthood wasn’t appreciated before taken on.
To love and be loved in a positive and healthy way isn’t effortless.
True love means saying “no” to urges. True love means being conscious rather than hurtful, being helpful rather than selfish, acknowledging your partner’s needs, and being faithful. True love includes both big and small acts.
It doesn’t take work to be in a dysfunctional relationship—people do it all the time. Oh, the ennui of taking another emotional hostage or allowing the same for yourself. It may be chaos, drama, and decimation—but it’s familiar.
But to really love someone who really loves you is to be emotionally healthy, supportive, and caring. It’s a partnership, compromise, and acceptance. Real, true love amplifies while dysfunctional love contracts. And yet, that which amplifies comes with work and responsibility both to self and to each other.