to anyone who may be reading….
First off, let me say that I am neither love doctor nor wise woman. I am just a person in love.
Who comes from a long line of people who have fallen and stayed in love (my grandparents have more than a century of married years between them; my parents are going on 35 years – and they still make out in the kitchen in front of me).
I like to believe there is some genetic predisposition to being lucky in love, and I have it. Or that the stars were perfectly aligned when I met mine, and so I rely entirely on the night sky to guide me. And so I’m that lucky young person to be happily in love, happily married, happy to be in a relationship for more than 10 years, and happily looking forward to a happily ever after.
So let me break it down for you:
1) Go looking for love in all the wrong places. Like dance parties. And dudes with 8-inch fro’s who wear a pick in their hair. You might be surprised to find that guy in the baggy jeans is actually an engineer, and a damn good listener. He also opens doors and knows how to cook. For real.
2) Give of yourself, gradually. Ladies – I get it. You are a strong independent female. You will never rely on anyone but yourself. Until you do. Until you find the person who holds you when you cry, who holds your hand and squeezes it at just the right times. Eventually you will find someone deserving of your trust. Really. Until then, keep up the front. The right person will know how to break down your walls – and then give you the reins of that beautiful horse.
3) Take the risks. Once upon a time, I took a risk on a guy who I wasn’t sure about. He paid off. And then he took a risk on me when he quit his oil field job to come propose to me in Denver. And then I took a risk when I turned down a PhD offer in Boston to come marry that guy in Denver. We take risks. We make sacrifices. If you really mean it… if you are really invested in one another… it will pay off. And the knowledge – that secret you harbor in your heart – that you bet it all on this one person – and this one moment – will carry you. It will provide momentum and verve. It will remind you that, yes, that other person is WORTH the gamble. Worth every minute.
4) It will hurt. It will suck. You will cry. Relationships are hard work. You will kneel over in pain, sadness, confusion. There will be things that don’t make sense. There will be arguments. There will be tears. And if you can get through it, together, as partners, with minimal collateral damage, then you have weathered the storm. You have earned one another. You have proven to the universe that you deserve another day – together.
5) It takes time. Rome was not built in a day. You have to work at it. You don’t find your perfect someone in five minutes. Not even the right hair, the right outfit, the right body, the right circumstances will bring you to your destiny. Sometimes you’ll wait weeks, months, years, decades, for the right individual. But when you find them, you’ll know. It sounds cliché. And you might not know right away. But wait for it. The feeling will spread. You’ll know when you’ve found the right match. I promise. You’ll know.
6) It takes work. Being good to one another is not as easy as we might like to believe. You’ll have to work at it – yes – even you. You’ll have to put someone else’s needs first – consistently. Every day. You’ll have to figure out what makes them tick. You’ll have to anticipate their highs and lows. You’ll have to compensate for their weaknesses with your own strengths, as they are doing for you. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you just want to disappear into the bathtub with a glass of wine. But if you really care, you have to keep on working. Keep on making the other person feel special. Keep on keeping it fresh. Keep on loving, no matter what.
7) Go for walks. There is truly nothing like a gorgeous sunny day (or even an overcast snowy day) and a three-mile walk to make everything right. Get out there. Suck in some fresh air. Move your limbs. Give your partner a kiss by the stop sign. Watch the baby ducks. Insist on walks – even if your partner doesn’t want to go. Even if you’re both busy. Just get the hell out there with some sneakers.
8) Communicate. Tell your partner how you are feeling. Tell them how much you love them. Tell them how angry you are that they came home late and you didn’t know where they were. Tell them how proud you are of their hard work. Thank them for folding the laundry. Tell them how much you missed them while they were gone. Tell them “no” when they ask for something unreasonable. Tell them when they are hurting your feelings. Tell them when you need more attention. Tell them when you are not being heard. Because if you don’t tell them, they’ll never know. And they love you. And they want you to be happy. So you have to give them the appropriate guidance to achieve that goal. You must give them the opportunity to succeed.
9) Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge. Or say “I love you.” Or plan a vacation. Don’t be afraid to get a puppy. Or buy a house. Or move in together. Life is short. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Don’t be afraid to believe in each others’ dreams. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. In fact, be yourself every day. Every moment of every day. Don’t be afraid to paint walls. To shout. To jump. To cry. To scream. Don’t be afraid to love with every molecule of your being. Because your partner is worth it. Because you are worth it. Love without fear or embarrassment. Don’t be afraid to burn the dinner. Or do the wrong thing. Just do it. And say it. And love it. Because you only have this life. And we learn from every mistake.
10) Cultivate hope. You are the gardener of your soul. And, if you’re lucky, you’re also an influential part of your partner’s growth. So cultivate hope. And positivity. Be the glass half full voice in your relationship. Tell your partner how much you’ve seen them change – and how wonderful they are. Tell them how much you believe in them and how proud you are of who they’ve become. Invest in their dreams. Plant seeds. Give them fertilizer (or rich homemade compost – even better). Water them carefully. Make sure they’re exposed to sunlight. This is not some metaphoric, allegorical mumbo jumbo. This is real, live, encouragement. If you believe in someone’s dreams, support them at every step. Give them lattice on which they can climb toward the sun. You are the charming gardener. Now help your partner flourish. And with that flowering, you’ve got a chance for a perennial bloom.