We’re fed a narrative about love being a fairy tale.
When you find that “perfect” person, everything’s going to be easy and beautiful, they tell us. It’ll be sunshine and rainbows for the rest of your days just as soon as you find that missing piece of your puzzle—the one who completes you.
Many of us have this idea that love should be easy, and that if we find the right person, it’ll be effortless. Our struggles will suddenly cease to exist, because now it’ll be the two of us against the world.
While this is a beautiful notion, it’s far from the truth.
It’s Easy to Love Someone in the Very Best Moments You Share Together
When you’re laughing together, sharing a beautiful experience, or celebrating an accomplishment, it’s easy to love your partner.
It’s easy to love another when they’re happy and in a great mood, when they’re excited, and when they’re oozing with life and positivity and passion.
It’s easy to love someone when you feel wowed or amazed by them or their abilities. When they’re sharing something you know they’re interested in and their whole face lights up like sunbeams are streaming right through their eyes, it’s almost impossible not to love them, or to fall even more in love with them.
I love my husband with all my heart, and I can’t imagine life without him by my side. There’s no one I’d rather travel through life with than him.
But loving him is not always easy. And I know for a fact that loving me is even harder at times (or at least equally as hard!).
Loving Someone at Their Worst Is Much Harder
I once read a tweet from writer Anne Lamott that said:
Now we’re talking! This is the reality of love—at least in my experience.
There will absolutely be times where you want to jump ship. You’ll look at that person whom you love soooo much, and you’ll suddenly see them as a whiny child that you just can’t stand anymore.
The impulse to get up and walk out on them and never look back will be there.
And this doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you horrible or mean or cruel or cold.
It makes you human.
Real Love Requires You to Face Your Demons
Loving someone in their worst moments requires patience, focus, strength, and reserve.
But above all, it requires you to fight your own demons—the false thoughts and beliefs about love being effortless that you’ve adopted through no fault of your own.
When your partner is drowning before your eyes, your mind will tell you all sorts of things about why you’d be better off just walking away. It will instantly build what appears to be a strong case for why you’re better off without this person.
It’ll tell you things like, “They’re too needy,” “They’re too immature,” “They’re acting like a baby, and you don’t need another child to take care of,” “They should get their act together,” “You deserve better than this,” “They’re being crazy and you shouldn’t have to deal with this,” “They’re not worth your time.” The mind will tell you all of these things and more. It will tempt you to take the easy way out.
And yet, the person you love is still going to be sitting across from you or lying beside you in bed, crying their eyes out or screaming about how they don’t know what to do. They’re still going to be looking at you with pleading eyes, fearful eyes, or a face that shows you all the shame they’re carrying.
And it’s in these moments where the true test of love occurs.
You’ll Be Forced to Make an Important Choice
Nobody is perfect. Nobody is immune to the emotional pulls of human nature. We all behave irrationally at times or get overwhelmed and angry about things that ultimately don’t matter. But even in these moments, we still deserve love and support.
It’s also in these moments where our biggest opportunities for growth lie.
When you reach your boiling point and feel you can’t stand the other person, you’re given a choice. You can stay and love them anyway, or you can walk out.
It will be much easier to walk away. By removing yourself from the situation or the relationship, you can avoid the effort of working through it and the messiness of being uncomfortable.
But if that’s the decision you always make, you’ll never experience true growth. And even worse, you’ll be denying yourself the kind of deep connection that can change your life and that is every bit as magical and wonderful as they talk about.
What Will You Choose?
At the beginning of my relationship with my husband, I can remember feeling the impulse to “jump ship,” as Anne Lamott refers to it, on several occasions.
But guess what?
I didn’t. I’m still here.
We’ve now been together for several years, and every single time I defy that nagging impulse, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
So, next time you’re at your wit’s end with your partner, remember that none of this was supposed to be easy. Love is hard. Acceptance is hard. Personal growth is even harder.
But know this: it’s all worth it in the end.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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