love sucks, but you can’t beat it

WARNING:

if you’re a hopeless romantic, searching for Prince Charming or Miss Marvelous, you better leave now. Because I’m about steamroll any Disney-drenched happily-ever-after scenarios. I’m starting my engine. Go now while your ideals are still in tact. You can get yourself some Danielle Steel on Kindle.

Okay…I warned you.

“What’s with everyone going on about the ‘hard work’ of marriage?” I used to think. “If it’s so hard it musn’t be true love. True love has a meant-to-be-ness about it that’s gotta make everything easier. Like, if it’s THAT hard, then it just ain’t right. Right?” Uh huh.

My relationship with my own self is complicated, how could I expect it to be simple with another? But I was single at the time. My panties matched my bras, my principles matched my big hair, and my astronomical phone bills matched my knack for getting involved with men who lived on the other side of the country. {The long distance fed my romantic longings. Longing. Always lonnnging.}

I’ve done some homework since then. Home. Work.

THE SHITTY FACTS MY RELATIONSHIP RESEARCH HAS SURFACED:

: I don’t know a single couple with an easy, let alone blissful, marriage. Okay. ONE couple: Donna and Brad. But they met when they were in their late forties. Brad’s wife had passed away. Donna was just out of a long termer. Within months of declaring their total and utter devotion, Brad discovered that he had cancer. They fought it with every alternative therapy known, and every dime and ounce of faith they had. They’re still going strong. It really is the stuff of love stories.

But back to the rest of us normal, non-Buddhist schmucks who got hitched earlier in life…

: Most of my married friends have seriously considered leaving their mates more than once. {Note to the hubby of my friend: I’m not talking about you. Really, you’re the total exception dude.}

: Within just the first year of marriage, at least half of my married friends and acquaintances thought to themselves, “What the hell have I done?

: Of all the longtime wed folks I’ve surveyed, each reported long, hellish periods in their relationship where they were merely enduring each other to get by.

Bubbles burst. Dreams steamrolled. Imperfections and cruelties of life glaringly clear. Crap facts noted. Love stinks.

And love keeps going in spite of it all.

THE DELIGHTFUL, SWEET AND RADIANT FACTS MY RELATIONSHIP RESEARCH HAS SURFACED:

: I have friends whose confessed infidelities cycloned through their lives. And they sorted through the wreckage to build something better than before. “The affair was the best thing that ever happened to us.”

: Couples who rallied to beat addictions, who sweat and toiled to over come them like farmers fight blight – tirelessly, without rest, because everything depends on victory.

: One of my wisest friends figures that it took about thirty years for him and his wife to simply be nice to each other. Now there is a euphoria in their familiarity. A grace has settled in. He says that sometimes it’s magical.

So if you’re out there thinking that the smoochy hot couple has got it easy, ha! Think again. If you’re down to a teaspoon of hope, envying the love stories on the other side of the fence, remember that while they were smiling for the cameras, Joanne Woodward was putting up with Paul Newman’s boozing in the early years. Fridah Kahlo’s beloved Diego chased skirts all through Mexico and New York. Cleopatra waited a long time for her man.

Love and doubt aren’t exclusive. In fact, they can be the most fantastic dance partners. Give and take. Trust and turn.

Bliss requires sweat.

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