I remember when I met my wife Kara, we’d spend hours on the phone, and it was never long enough. I always wanted to know what she was thinking and the details of her day.
But over time the honeymoon phase ended, and since being married I’ve heard more than once the dangerous accusation, “Are you listening?!?” In these moments I’ve been tempted to ask the question, “What happened?”
Has my wife changed? Has she become less interesting? Have I changed and become more cold and detached?
Actually, probably very little has changed. The problem is that my expectations of love were very different from love in real life.
In many ways the decision to love is a lot like the decision to lose a bad habit or make a New Years resolution. Resolutions are easy to make but hard to keep. It reminds me of when I decided to quit smoking. At the time I made the commitment, all I could think about was the health benefits, the fresh breath, and the money I was going to save. But when it actually came time to quit, I started to realize that this was going to be painful and demanding, and quitting no longer seemed like such a good idea. My expectations were only focused on the benefits, and so I wasn’t prepared for the challenges. I eventually did quit, but only after missing deadline after deadline, and bumming more cigarettes than I’d like to admit. Quitting was a challenge, and it was made harder by my unrealistic expectations, but in the long run I persevered and found out that being tobacco free was even better than I initially expected!
So too love becomes hard when reality hits and we realize that the one we love isn’t perfect- and neither are you. It turns out that the fictional characters of TV and movies are much more likely than our mate to be a great listener, always turned-on, and smelling like roses. Just like our New Year’s resolutions, love requires discipline and sacrifice. The good news is the benefits of love—that lifelong friend and teammate, a stable family, a deep and lasting happiness—are always worth it.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments!