We all want our love stories to be romantic and passionate, incredible reproductions of hollywood tales of danger, commitment, and triumph. We want to believe that our love is unlike any love that has ever been felt by any of the 107 billion people who have ever existed. We want to believe that what we have is unique, special, and exclusive.
We say things like: “I love you forever. I would do anything for you. You are the only one for me. I would die without you. You’re the most amazing person I have ever known. I’m so glad that I finally found you.”
These sentiments are plentiful during a fresh relationship. Early infatuation and the passion that comes with it is certainly a wonderful experience. It is after a year or two of relationship that the trouble comes, as, many times, in the absence of these hyperbolic attestations and loin-girding emotions, a couple feels as though their love has died.
What happened? Nothing to worry about, in my opinion.
The feelings and sentiments of fiery romance have settled into a pragmatic, everyday love.
Everyday love is pretty practical. Many people think practicality isn’t very romantic. I think that, in many cases, practical love has more meaning. When I run out of mushy romantic colloquialisms, I start to realize that everyday love sounds more like this:
#1. I think you’re someone I can tolerate for the next 80 years.
Let’s be honest. When you sign up for a lifelong marriage, you’re committing yourself to around 80 years of one person’s frequent (if not constant) company.
That is a serious proposition. While passion says “Of course I want to spend the rest of my life with you, you’re my soulmate!!!”, everyday love recognizes the magnitude of this arrangement and the logistics involved. We’re talking about 87,600 meals, 29,200 bedtimes, and 1,460,000 kisses (if you kiss as often as my wife and I). This is no small thing.
And it also leads us to #2.
#2. I could be happy with a number of people, but I picked you.
Passion screams “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. YOU ARE MY ONE AND ONLY.”
But, I mean, really? Everyday love recognizes the fact that, out of the nearly 7.5 billion people on the planet, odds are good any one of us could make a decent life and be happy with a bunch of different partners.
But this doesn’t diminish the love at all. If anything, it enhances it.
Because, out of EVERY SINGLE PERSON on the planet, most of whom I have never met, I decided I wanted you, even knowing that I could be happy with them.
#3. You and I agree on the practical details.
It turns out that some of differing values and opinions that many people assume won’t mesh well don’t seem to heavily impact a marriage, while other commonly overlooked (more practical) hurdles exist.
For instance, difference of religion or politics isn’t a huge deal when mutual respect is present (though I’ll happily admit that most people gravitate towards spouses with similar beliefs and opinions, perhaps for the sheer sake of convenience).
On the other hand, disagreement on something as simple as where we will live, how we will act, or what we will eat can have a crippling effect on a relationship.
#4. Our life goals jive.
Further, if you’re heading to different places, if your dreams don’t fit together, you’ll have a heck of a time being happy. Someone will get priority, and someone else will feel resentful. It’s not romantic, but the idea that both partners are looking at the same big picture is a practical detail that is essential. If you want to go be an artist in L.A. but I want to raise a family, there will be some challenges associated with that, no matter how passionately we love each other.
#5. Our strengths complement each other.
Too often, marriage becomes some kind of competition where both parties feel like they have to bring the same things, in the same way, in the same amount. This is ridiculous. Marriage is a team sport, and we should pick up our spouses slack in their areas of weakness in the same way they pick up ours.
#6. The things about you that suck don’t bother me that much.
Let’s face it. Everyone has some less than ideal qualities about them. Part of marriage vows is committing to this person, baggage included. Passionate love says “Eventually, you’ll grow out of those issues.” Everyday love is fully aware of a person’s darkness and flaws, and loves that person with those flaws, with the understanding that they may never go away.
#7. I like you.
Like isn’t love. They don’t come in a package together. Romantics will want to string me up for this, but it’s true. Love will not carry you for the long haul. When you’re in the valleys of your marriage (and you will be), it will be a genuine but subdued enjoyment of your spouse that gets you through, not a world conquering love. It is possible to love someone with the fire of a hundred suns, but not particularly enjoy their company or personality. Without the basis of fun, laughter, and conversation, any relationship will wither.
Passion is a flashy fuel. Everyday love burns longer and hotter, though admittedly with less grandeur. I’m not advocating that you abandon romance. Quite the opposite. I’m suggesting you enhance it with a healthy respect for the real work horse in any healthy relationship, everyday love.