The words “fall in love” are a beautiful use of language. They so perfectly capture the essence of an experience – the magical time when another person becomes the other person, when you lose your footing and just let yourself go, happy and hopeful and distracted in all your good feelings.
But you can only “fall” for so long. At some point, even the best, most in-love couples can lose that powerful romantic spark. Today, with so many people involved in multiple serious relationships throughout their young adulthood, sometimes marrying, divorcing, and remarrying, we can’t help but wonder: if we fall out of love, does that mean it wasn’t meant to be?
A little research into what makes a couple’s love last reveals a common theme: relationships take work. Ugh. Who wants love to be work? This phrasing isn’t nearly as inspiring a use of language as “falling in love”. Let’s try this instead: love is active. Love is patient and kind and does not find fault, etc., but it also requires action to be that way.
In his book The Exceptional Seven Percent, marriage therapist Gregory Popcak writes, “When a couple makes a commitment to acting in loving ways whether they feel like it or not, paradoxically they end up feeling more and more in love: Loving feelings feed off of loving actions.” Ahh, this is work of love – to give, to forgive, to serve, to kiss, even when we don’t feel like it.
Anyone who’s ever talked to a happy, long-married couple has heard that you can fall in and out of love over and over with your spouse. These couples have accepted that their love won’t be perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth preserving. The life-blood of love is the action—the choice—of loving.
The first time I dated my husband Kyle, we dabbled in love, pursued the idea, but never let it mature. When it got hard, we told ourselves, “It wasn’t meant to be.”
Two years after Kyle and I broke up, we reconnected. We were the same people but in a different stage in life. This time, we fell and stayed in love very naturally. Turns out, it was meant to be. Or maybe we decided we wanted it to be and nurtured our love accordingly.
Meant-to-be is kind of a hindsight idea. You know you were meant to be with one special person once you find yourselves on a mission together – when your love becomes bigger than your feelings of infatuation and based on something stronger. This love is a commitment to bring out the best in each other, to put the other before yourself, to create a happy family or give of yourselves to the world in some way – together. This mission-like love is worth fighting to keep alive, despite your falling in and out of it.
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