In an effort to save money, I enjoyed a night in with M, splitting beers and dishes from Brother Jimmy’s. Though I have a TV, it’s in the living room where an air conditioner is not, so Hulu won over any real-time attraction. We watched an assortment of stuff -Grey’s, a special on the Columbine shootings, music videos from the 90’s (remember S Club 7 and Britney, pre-crazy?), and at last, one of M’s favorites, The Newlyweds.
I used to watch Jess & Nick pretty regularly, captivated by their fairytale-like wedding and just the idea of how a couple fairs after joining their lives together. At the time, I wanted to look just like Mrs. Simpson-Lachey and well, Nick was tall and fit, a handsome dude who apparently, was marriage-material too. I was too young, I think to realize how incredibly toxic and dysfunctional their relationship really was.
From episode one, it was evident that not only did they not know how to communicate, but that they led their day-to-day lives differently. He was super-duper-OCD clean, she had lived a life of luxury since 14, never having to fend for herself. He believed his wife should do his laundry and keep the house tidy without a maid, even if they could defiantly afford one, and she didn’t even know how to toss out after 10-day old flowers. She had jealously issues that were rather normal, but she didn’t know how to handle them and often smothered him when space would have cleared up the tension. She whined for attention, he refused to give it to her. He didn’t listen, continuously put her down, and instead of stating how he felt, he walked away and shut down.
Watching this now, after having relationships that were quite similar, my wedded-bliss image of one of my favorite teeny-bopper couples was shattered. I was flabbergasted – how did I not see how poorly their relationship functioned? Why had I been so sad when news broke that they parted ways? Why did it come as such a surprise for me?
They were unlike any other couple that just couldn’t make it work. Simpson was 22 when she married, Lachey was 29, and while I’m not one to base the success or failure of any relationship on an age difference (Mr. P and I are eight years apart), Jess didn’t know herself well enough to agree to marriage. And Nick? He treated her like a child and put her down without taking any of her history into consideration. Sure she was 22, but she signed a record deal at 14 – placing her in the lap of luxury and stardom for all of her adult life.
I’m passing judgment of course – I don’t know them personally and no one except for them can testify to what went wrong after three years of marriage, but watching it now further proved to me how easy it is to fall in love with the idea of love. Of course, there are many splendid things about loving someone and having them return the intoxicating favor. Having the constant support, the sweet reminders of affection and having someone send you good-night text message is wonderful. It makes you feel good, it makes you want to make them happy, and it gives you hope for a couple-oriented future.
But relationships are more than that. They require a lot of work, more patience than anyone has, and the ability to forgive and forget quickly, and even when you’re angry or upset, kiss someone good-night with sincerity. They require understanding and consistent, constant communication, and also having enough faith in your partner to give them space when they need it. They demand compromise and two people who are healthy on their own, happy by themselves, but healthier and happier together. They aren’t always fun and you don’t always adore that person, they don’t always give you what you need and they forget what you want. People are selfish and insecure, immature and annoying – but that’s what makes us human, that’s what makes us children who are learning the best way to lead our lives. And when you decide to go about it with someone else, you have to remember that they’re human too.
So falling in love with love – with this idea that love cures all things, can stand any test of time, any argument, any difference or disagreement – well folks, it’s bullshit. Sometimes it simply doesn’t work. Sometimes there can be no way to resolve what sets you apart and even when it’s tough to swallow, deciding to separate can be the thing that makes you healthier and your partner happier.
Some love – most love – isn’t meant to stand the test of time. You’re supposed to learn how to love, learn how to be in a relationship, learn how to be someone’s companion. And it’s not until you stop falling in love with love, admiring couples from afar without knowing the story behind their cohesion, do you learn that the best of love, the truest of all partnerships, has nothing to do with being madly, passionately in love or with the best story or incredible sex.
Instead, it’s about the love where more importantly than anything else, you love the person for who they are, not how they make you feel. Not because they are handsome and tall, not because they are charming or good arm candy. But because they are themselves and if you weren’t in love with them, you’d still pick them as your friend. After all, in time, you realize the day-to-day is far more important than romance, more important than those butterflies, more important than that fancy wedding. Those things fade, along with looks and chiseled bodies and chins, but having someone you can sit on the couch with and talk about nothing and still be happy – that’s a healthy love.
Daily Gratitude: Today, I’m thankful that I’m inside instead of out in this blistering heat.