Next month me and my ol’ lady celebrate our 13th Anniversary. Looking around me at the other couples we know gives me the feeling that 13 years is actually quite an accomplishment. I won’t pretend there wasn’t ever any problems, or that we didn’t ever break up for a little while, or that there weren’t times when I questioned our love. Hell, there were times when I questioned if being in love was actually a good thing at all.
I think a lot of what we went through was normal. We came out of it happier than ever and with a better understanding of what true love actually is. We know that what you see on TV isn’t real at all. We know that sometimes love doesn’t feel so good. We know that loving someone means a lot more then what we are taught it means. It’s not just a feeling you have, it is you actions and intentions too.
“Love is made up of three unconditional properties in equal measure:
One thing they don’t tell you about love is that its biggest ingredient is acceptance. Hell, we don’t even tell each other that we need acceptance. We barely know how to articulate it. We aren’t taught much about acceptance in relationships. We are taught who a person ought to be and we spend our whole lives trying to mold ourselves and the person we supposedly love into what we think is right.
I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit.
In the beginning of a relationship we all do our best to hide those parts of us we assume the person we are pursuing will not like. We hide our money problems, we hide our bad habits, we hide our darker thoughts, we hide it all and present or completely make up the best parts of ourselves. Meanwhile, the other person is doing the same and both of you think you hit the jackpot.
Hahahaha, then it all blows up about 2 years in.
“Falling in love was simple; one had only to yield. Digesting another person, however, and sustaining love, was bloody work, and not a soft job.”
The bad parts of us eventually start to bob back up to the surface and both of you feel like you were lied too. But you’ve invested emotion, time, and money so you keep trying to get that person you thought you were dating back but it’s never going to happen. You have to get to know this new person and see if you can love them too.
Sigh, it’s normal but the whole thing is stupid. I admit I did it too and I was stupid. I thought I knew what love was supposed to look like. She feels the same way.
We found out that we both came with a lot of emotional baggage. We found out that we had very different ideas about how things should be done. We found out we viewed the world a little differently. We found out we didn’t have everything in common that we thought we did.
She thought if I loved her I would be able to figure out what she needed without her having to tell me, and I thought if she loved me she would want to spend all her time with me. She thought if I loved her I would do the dishes without her having to remind me, and I thought if she loved me she wouldn’t leave used tissues on the nightstand.
It was all so petty. We wasted so much time trying to get the other to just be the way we wanted them to be instead of just spending all our time LOVING one another. It was so, so stupid. In our defense we did love each other and I believe that if we had been taught more about relationships and what was normal and what wasn’t we would have had half the problems or less.
“If you really love someone,’ Claudia continued, ‘you have to be prepared to accept them as they are. Maybe you hope that one day they get a wake-up call and make the changes for their own reasons.”
So I guess the moral of the story here is just accept the person you love for who they are. They will be happier, you will be happier, and you both will feel more comfortable to show your true selves to each other. Love just isn’t love without acceptance.
I accept my girl for who she is and I learn to work around the things that I was trying to change before. Instead of trying to force her to be something she wasn’t I asked her why she was the way she was and I asked her what I could do to help her give me what I needed too, and vice versa. For example, I’m always going to be a forgetful person. She had to let go of this fantasy where my memory suddenly started working the way she wanted it to.
I asked her what was more important, me getting the thing done, or me remembering to get the thing done? I told her she may have to remind me of things but that when she did I would always do what it was she needed me to do. All I can do is hope that is good enough.
I know a couple who fought for years over the husbands love for playing his Xbox after work. She wanted him to spend time with her and he wanted to blow of steam shooting up stuff and yelling at people. She almost left him until the lightbulb finally went off. Now she plays Xbox with him when he gets home and they both are living happily ever after.
I know a couple where the wife just wants to go out and dance and drink with friends but her husband is trying to keep her home or he has to go with her to keep an eye on her. He doesn’t know it but he’s slowly pushing her away. If he would just accept that his wife needs time with her girlfriends they could be living happily ever after too.
I know a lot of couples that need to learn to love and let be and I know a lot of other couples who are doing it right too.
“The place where you continually return for love and acceptance—that’s home.”
Me and my girlfriend had to learn what acceptance was. We had to learn to just relax and stop trying to force the other to be something they weren’t. We had to stop listening to friends and family and trying to emulate what we saw in movies and on TV. None of that was real. What is real is that we are two imperfect people in an imperfect relationship that can be amazing and beautiful when we give each other space to be who we are.