I always considered myself lucky. I’m someone who was raised in an open, honest and understanding home by two parents who not only loved me, but loved each other dearly. I watched my dad surprise my mother with flowers and unexpected dinner dates and I stumbled across letters my mom left for my dad all over our house. They made each other coffee, stood by each other no matter what they were going through, and though it wasn’t always perfect, to me – they were (and are) the perfect couple.
I grew as the witness and the product of a great love story. Of one of those timeless tales we all read about or watch on the silver screen, but never believe they exist. But they do – in their own special way. He was captivated from afar, she resisted initially, but ultimately gave in. And while they only dated for a month before getting engaged and moving in together, within three months they were married, and happy they’ve remained for over 25 years.
And because of their love, because of what I’ve always looked up to – I’ve never expected anything less for myself. I’ve always thought that relationships were supposed to be like that – open, understanding, romantic, passionate and simple. Maybe simple isn’t the best word because life is far from that, but the love should be easy. Loving someone, being with someone, being committed and dedicated – those things should be the simplest part of life.
But while we all know the detriment of a torn family and the realities and commonality of divorce, what about those of us who never experienced such awful things? Are our standards different or our expectations far too high? Do we only see the happy side of marriage and ignore the difficulties that two people can’t always overcome? Divorce isn’t always the best option, but there is no doubt that sometimes it is inevitable if either party wants to actually be satisfied. If you can’t be joyous together, staying put for the sake of anything is an awful idea.
That’s not reason not to try though, right? Isn’t the risk of loving more important than never loving at all? In a time where marriage continues to be postponed later in life, commitment is delayed until demanded and relationships are limited to a sex date here or a six month stay there – where has all that love gone?
Where are all those great love stories? Do they happen anymore? Do guys really fall madly, completely, entirely, magically, profoundly in love? Do they still pursue women to the ends of the earth? Do they still see us and become so intrigued, they have to have us? Do people get married, stayed married and actually take it serious before the age of 35? Or is that just asking too much? Is it unrealistic to believe that someone could love me the way my father loved my mother?
Should I accept that love has changed in the past three decades? Most every relationship I’ve had has been messy and complicated, difficult to endure at times and almost always ending in some form of heartache. I’ve loved and it hasn’t been returned, I’ve stood by someone when I should have walked, and I haven’t always returned love to those who wanted it. I’ve accepted less than what I deserve, admitted it and yet still continued to be part of it. I haven’t felt the kind of love that my parents seem to have – and I’m getting closer and closer to the age my mother was when she met my father.
And the older I get, the more men I meet and date, relationships I enter, and boyfriends I wonder if I should be dating, I try to decide if I need to have a great love story to have a great love?
Do those of us who come from happy homes want the same thing so badly that we look for it in all the wrong places? Or do we try to imagine and create it out of nothing? Do we value romance and meet-cutes over what it takes to make a relationship stable and reliable? Or are we lost somewhere between the two extremes, trying to figure out what’s really settling and what’s just wanting more than what’s available?
And if it’s not available here, can we find it elsewhere? Or would we just happen to find another lost cause? Another lost love on the way to what we hope will be the great love?