Where does the mental picture of the ideal relationship come from? Are we monogamous by nature or by choice?
I see it all in my mind. Bliss. Whatever hurts will be instantly healed. My dress will be magnificent. My ring will light up the room. Everyone will watch me in all of my white dress glory and think to themselves, “she found her soul mate, maybe love is real.” We will move into the perfect house (that we don’t have yet) and love will carry us through happily ever after until the end of our days. Sound familiar? This is what I’ve seen on TV my whole life. Every Disney movie. Happily ever after. Love is the only necessity. Get married, have kids and die together. What a beautiful idea. The caveat is that life is not a Disney movie.
What is the expectation of a relationship? Am I looking for a savior? Am I hoping for someone to make my financial problems, emotional problems, childhood problems & career problems disappear? Does the inevitable pain I must experience in this life suddenly evaporate once the ring slides onto my finger? Would I be monogamous if it wasn’t traditional? What does intimacy mean? What is the wedding really about? When I get married, what am I actually committing to?
I think about these questions. I want to know because typically, typical marriages end in the dreaded D word; Divorce! My mother, several of my aunts, cousins, and people close to me had marriages that for whatever reasons fell apart. I couldn’t help but challenge the question lingering in my mind; “Do I want to get married? Why or why not?”
To answer this question I did some research. Man oh man oh man oh MAN! I had no clue what I was in for. For starters, the wedding has become the focal point of marriages. Upon researching, I found that so much importance lies deeply in the ceremony but not the journey. Some of the reasons people wed that I spoke to or stories I came across that included people who went through a divorce were; being pregnant and feeling unethical, to escape a stressful household or stressful responsibilities, because a person had money or status, infatuation, to feel ethical about being intimate, love, because it’s part of the status quo, social peer pressure, and as a business move to be in a position to acquire more wealth and or stability.
The second thing I realized is that I don’t necessarily know what being married actually means to me. If I stepped away from religion and tradition and just based the decision on what I actually want to happen, what DO I want to happen? Do I want to be a housewife? Do I want to have children? Am I domestic? What are the skills that I bring to the table? What are the issues that I carry? How much baggage do I have? Do I want to be committed to one person forever? Can I forgive easily? What will I do if this person becomes ill, or can no longer be intimate, or loses a limb or their parent gets ill and needs to live with us? How do their issues affect me? How would they affect our children if we have them? How will we manage our bank accounts? The questions poured in.
Now, theres no way I can answer all these questions before-hand. Some but not all. Yet, they are all valid questions that will need an answer at some point. I don’t think I ever had a realistic conversation with myself about what it means to be in a relationship. I didn’t know that love is not enough to sustain a relationship. Or that it will not be non-stop joy, nor a band-aid for my life struggles and pain.
People are who they are and that is that. To be in a relationship means that I accept that. It means that I relinquish my desire to control another person and that I surrender myself to them for as long as I want to. But so often in relationships the behavior reflects a different agenda. That agenda is expectations. And many of those expectations come from the Disney syndrome or the one way I have seen a relationship work. Or a complete lack of thinking about the ins and outs all together. So after a little thinking here are some of the ideals I formed.
I think each person has to decide for themselves what it is they want from a relationship and why. Then challenge those desires to make sure this is not a disguise for soul searching or savior searching. I think each person needs to be complete and not look to or desire to be completed by the other. The terms of the relationship are not decided by society or tradition. They have to be decided by and agreed upon by the two (or more) people in the relationship. And after time, this “agreement” will probably need to continually be revised. Monogamy is a choice not a requirement and the limitations to that, again, are between the people in the relationship. And above all, relationships are made of horribly bad times, simple nondescript times and blissfully amazing times.
It’s in the moments that I open myself to people that I discover the most about myself regardless of how painful it may be at the time. Relationships are part of the human experience to overcome and evolve into a pure state. And in them, there are things within us that will come forward in ways we never expected. It’s not a straight line with one final destination of bliss. There are many destinations and many detours. It’s possibly the boring Wednesday laying on the couch doing nothing. The argument before the event that was so special. The illness that you fear will kill the person you love. The children that are the best of the both of you. The only person that knows that thing about you and still sees you as a beautiful being. The person who crushed your heart before but made you face your fears in the process.
There will be things you hate about the person you’re in a relationship with and times you may find it an easier feat to replace them with a new or cooler version. But each relationship has its fateful design to shake you up. Sometimes it’s not the tools, it’s the mechanic. Sometimes things can get better without replacing. But other times, people break up. Feelings change. People leave, grow, evolve, move on or die. The truth is, none of us have security in relationships. Even marriage has the option of divorce. So I’ve come to believe that it’s all about the moments. The experiences and how we enjoy them. The ways that we can grow. The reasons why we begin and how honest we are with ourselves about what’s possible and feasible. I’ve learned to plan for all that I want because I can have it, but to know what expectations are rigid and often shallow. I expect the unexpected because loving someone as deeply as I imagined in the Disney fairytale, only manifests as beautifully in real life when we go through the trenches and still see the beauty of the journey.
Thank you for reading! What do you expect from love? Did you discover things about yourself in your quest for love? Let me know!
Listen to my #MondayLoveDrop #WaitForIt and watch the dance video below: