Monday, October 3, 2011

Real Love

It's funny, I was talking to my mom recently about relationships, and how one of the reasons so many people don't get married or divorce is because a lot of us have unrealistic expectations of what a relationship is. Then we were talking about why that is, and we kind of came up with movie and book romances. And that got me thinking. Why is it that, in the romance section, there isn't much by way of realistic romances. Even books that are more realistic, aren't that realistic because they're talking about some big romance and finding the 'perfect mate' that 'sweeps you off your feet'.

Don't get me wrong here as I go off on this tangent, I love my husband and I feel lucky and blessed to have him, but we don't have some big romantic love. When we started dating there was romance and zing and this overwhelming feeling of love. It didn't last - it's not meant to! (Dr.Gary Chapman [who wrote The 5 Love Languages] talks about how we meet someone and experience the 'in-love' sensation, but that it will only last for a short period of time). Dr. Chapman also talks about how that 'in-love' feeling is immune to imperfections and possible problems down the road- not that they should end a marriage, but that the feeling of obsessive love means that you aren't necessarily looking at your relationship's ins and outs clearly.

So then we go back to our lovable romances - and don't get me wrong here, because I LOVE those books and I read them all the time as my own guilty pleasure - but those books are kind of nonsense. Yes, you can meet some one and fall in love and have a wonderful romance, but most people don't experience harrowing escapes and abusive exes (like in the books) that bring you together in a super romantic and passionate way. And let's face it - Guys fart. where does it say that in my romance books. There's no paragraph that goes:
"Jack and Jill were lying in bed after having had a stressful day. They lay back to back, not looking at each other, not talking. Each has a book in their hands and are quietly reading when he lets off a 'silent but deadly' fart. Seeing that she hasn't noticed, he pretends it didn't happen, but when she smells in and starts strangling from the stench, he bursts out laughing at her reaction."

There is also not the paragraph that says:
"Jack had the day off from work and had promised Jill he would wash the dishes before she got home from a very long day. However, as the day progressed, he discovered that all he really wanted to do was watch Star Trek and maybe putter on his motorcycle for a bit. So he didn't wash the dishes and when Jill got home they were still there. Feeling put out, but thinking that maybe Jack just really needed to get something else done, Jill changes clothes and washes the dishes while she fixes dinner."

Nope, not romantic enough?
"One day, Jack and Jill decided it would be a great day to go and enjoy the nice weather. So Jill packed up a picnic lunch and Jack got out the motorcycle helmets. Jill told Jack to grab the backpack, but when they got to the picnic area they discovered that they had both forgotten it, so they went home."

Still not doing it for you?
"Jill, well, she's not perfect and she has a lot of shoes. Some days when she gets home all she can think about doing is taking off her shoes and crawling onto the couch to get the weight off of her feet. This often results in shoes and socks in random places around the house. Jack hates it, but what can he do?"

People - this is what relationships are actually like! There is no great love. There is love, and plenty, but it is interspersed with frustrations and undone honey-do lists! The trick is that people who get married and stay married are devoted and determined to make this thing work. Nobody's perfect. Everyone farts. Finding lasting love is more about finding someone you can life with and still (mostly) love at the end of the day. Its about work. It's about recognizing cues from the other person and exercising patience. Your mom and dad weren't perfect and, if you had a pretty good childhood, you were able to live with them with no major upsets.

So - I kind of want to challenge someone who wants to be a writer, to write about a Real 'romance'. About the guy who farts and the girl who leaves things all over the place. About maintaining love through difficult and frustrating times. About what it really is to be married and how that big first flush of 'in-love' can face to a comfortable day-to-day, everlasting love.

p.s. you should totally read these books if you are in a serious relationship:
The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman