I have a secret to tell. One this world tries so hard to keep buried.
Love is not a fairy tale.
Love is not butterflies in the stomach, a wedding drenched in sparkly things. It has nothing to do with white horses, dancing in the moonlight or, even, a magical kiss.
We are surrounded by lies – that without a spark, a special gleam in the eye or a tingle in the spine, our love is dead.
We are often told, to counter the lies, love is a choice. And, yes, it's true, but love is also a journey, one with a definite beginning point – a series of choices we follow to a certain outcome.
I look at my children and I recognize I love them without question. They frustrate me at times, yes. But I don’t love them any less or wonder what life would be like if I had different kids. I don’t consider leaving them to find myself or to find a better life with better kids. They are mine. A part of me.
And the most amazing part of this relationship is that I did not get to choose it. I did not go through life meeting children along the way, writing down a list of characteristics for the perfect child, take a few to the playground to test them out and then, finally, declare, “This is the child for me!”
These children were given to me by God. This relationship was created by Him alone. And it may not always be easy or fun or lead to those magical Kodak moments, but when I work hard to recognize the blessing these children are and make a deliberate effort to mother them well, all I receive back is blessing. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What if we approached romantic love with the same heart?
What if we recognized that our choices in the very beginning – going on that first date, indulging in the first kiss, giving a little bit of ourselves (or all of ourselves) – to another being is an act which will lead to conception – the conception of a relationship that cannot be torn apart quickly and painlessly?
What if we recognized that relationships aren’t easy, but they’re worth it? What if we recognized that only God knows our souls to the core and only He knows what we truly need? What if we acknowledged this person next to us may not be perfect, but he is a part of me now – an action that became complete the day we said, “I do”?
What if we put as much effort into loving our spouses well, to encourage them to be the one God created them to be, as we pour into our children? What if we recognized that the days we make the deliberate effort to hold them close, tell them we love them and look out for their best interest are the days when it all seems to feel right – even if there is so much going wrong?
What if our culture viewed the permanence of marriage to be just as crucial and unquestionable as the permanence of parenthood?
What if we followed God’s path for the family rather than Disney’s?
What if we stopped perpetuating the lies and showed our children what “true love” means? What if the love we display for them to our spouse was more enchanting than any fairy tale? What if we impressed the importance of only starting a relationship they intend to finish?
What if we started in our own hearts – uprooting the dis-satisfied notions, taking our focus off the areas that lack and appreciating what we have been given? What if I noticed the empty dishwasher, the playful caress and the time sacrificed for me more than I longed for flowers, a sappy card or the perfect date?
What if we woke up every morning determined to love well, rather than demanding to be loved the way we dreamed – the way we saw in fairy tales?
To my wonderful man, who may not be Prince Charming, but is still more than I ever thought to imagine for myself.