We shouldn't be looking for a happy ending. That's folly, because the wedding day, the first kiss, the commitments- they are all a part of a story that won't end until death. And that story will have to move through loss and death to get to such an ominous ending.
I don't think I should be looking for a miracle or prince charming. I should be looking for someone who will face life with me. Together, we could extract ourselves from theory (daydreams), and accumulate experiences, the love resulting. Taking someone "in" as my companion is not a fairy tale. It is a decision that is made lightly and passively by, frankly, some I know. With that Someone, life will give us joyful serendipity and rough adversities. Therefore, I wonder why we'd only base courtship on just fun nights out or the most peppy versions of ourselves.
Those marriage vows- in sickness and in health. That's a big deal. Will I be able to look at a man and say (with or without marriage), "I respect your life, your inherent dignity, and what we share so much, that I will help you through that vulnerable, terrifying erosion of faculties?"
There are ups and downs, individuals/priorities change over the years, sex likely won't be consistent, events alter perceptions, and honesty is important. Shouldn't we be exploring a strong foundation, then, from the earliest stages? A foundation of unabashed truth and enriched discussion?
Plus- many people end relationships, they say, because they are not "fulfilled." I reckon they initially felt fulfilled by the companion... But that is an unfair expectation to place on anyone. Just like careers, projects, and homes, a person can only help us go so far- It's the active self-care that fulfills. If you cannot be alone with yourself (which, for some like me, I needed to learn through years), you will not at all know yourself. You will project self consciousness onto your partner, and look to them for every ounce of your identity. That is not a relationship, nor is it a spiritually and/or intellectually integrated collaboration. It lacks identity and clarity; it lacks decisiveness.
Here's a bullet version of what I am sketching out right now (sorry for some repetition):
- On those first dates, you shouldn't be anyone but yourself, and no question should be answered embellished. That's because from the moment you don't lay a foundation from pure honesty, the house will be spoiled.
- Face desperate loneliness square in the eye before you seek a partner. When we are looking for a partner to heal our loneliness, we are not collaborating with that partner; I believe that paints the partner as a "miraculous" object, not a person. Relationships are crippled when one or both the parties can't be on their own.
- Love is a result, not the impulse, of a relationship. Often, we confuse love and lust. Let's get to the basic level- Time, intimacy, space, and activity result in the true revealing of the soul. I can say I'm loving all I want, but it's only when I can be loving through advice or action that I truly am so.
- Every journey is different, but one thing the best relationships seem to have in common: Sex does not alone wield the relationship's cards. Sex dries up, it comes later, comes sooner, is frequent, or not (just like when you're single). There is a solace: sex is just one relationship element (and heck- of a person). That relationship can have strengths in other intimacies, such as conversation, philosophy, and Netflix/snuggle fests. There is so much more to us, and reason to be with someone, than nights in the sheets.
- The lust feeling, perpetuated as love, can confuse us from who our potential partner is at their most neutral level-the version of the person we are going to spend the most time with (let's be honest). When clouded with desire, even the most intelligent among us will say and do things that aren't truly honest. Lust goggles drive us to objectify our lover, perpetuating a relationship built on the moment we met in heat, rather than on the concept of growth and investment. We should see our love as who they are, not what we want them to do for us--- I'd hope we expect the same.
- It's pretty clear from historical and literary records, that people do not like being told what to do. So, build a relationship as two individuals with concrete identities. Be whole, rather than one. Encourage and emulate the fact they have friends and hobbies outside the home. To go further, celebrate that they've had prior loves, successes and failures- all that has led them to the person who was eventually willing to take you in.
- Understand there is no happy ending. Every time we decide to enter a relationship with someone, it is opening ourselves to both joyous and tragic possibilities. In other words: opening our heart to someone sets us on a path toward every potential human experience and expression that we may not yet have encountered. Very soon after marriage, my Someone could fall mortally ill, our child could have a chronic illness, our home could burn down, or one of us could lose a job. Since the realm of possibility is vast, I shouldn't just be looking for a prince or a miracle- I should be looking for someone who wants to experience life in all its highs and lows. Would I be able to hold their hand as they transition to death?