Relationships

Every Day Should Be Valentine’s Day

Ah, love. Something we all want, whether we admit it or not, and only about half of people truly find.

Kevin and I will have been married nearly 31 years this May. We knew, right away, that we were right for each other. However, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it hasn’t always been chocolate kisses and sparkly jewelry throughout our marriage – mainly because of my issues.

More on that later.

Sure. We all love at some point in our lives, but is it true love?

What does that even mean?

What does true love really mean? In order to figure out if you’ve found true love, it’s important to first understand what true love actually entails. Essentially, true love means that you have an unwavering, unbreakable and unparalleled fondness and devotion for your partner. It’s also defined by an emotional as well as physical connection with him or her that runs immeasurably deep, and life without your significant other would be practically unthinkable. Source

According to liveabout.com, here are some signs that you have found true love:

1. You care about this person unconditionally. A tell-tale sign that you’ve found true love is that you absolutely and undeniably adore your partner with no strings attached. In other words, no matter what circumstances may befall you and through good times as well as bad, you support and deeply care for this person. Unconditional love is at the very heart of what true love means and entails.

I’ll talk about each of these points as they apply to my life. I can only speak to my own experiences, everyone has slightly different definitions and vastly different opinions largely dependent on how you were raised to view love and who you are as a person – your genetic makeup, I suppose.

Take everything I say with a grain of salt, again, this has been my experience as an old, *ahem*, married woman.

Obviously, I love Kevin. I wouldn’t have married him and produced two sons with him if I didn’t love him. But I don’t think I TRULY recognized or understood what that meant until he had his motorcycle accident.

That was a coming to Jesus moment for me. I could have lost him! I will never, NEVER, forget the overwhelming feeling of panic and fear I experienced when I got that voicemail, from a perfect stranger, mind you, that Kevin had been involved in a motorcycle accident and they were taking him to our local hospital.  I remember standing there, listening to this strange man’s voice, coaxing me into a personal nightmare and thinking, “I should take a shower.” I had been cleaning house when I listened to that voicemail and I don’t know about you, but I’m not a 50’s kind of woman where I clean house in a frou-four dress and lipstick- I tend to look like something that a dog dragged out of a grave when I clean house, because dude, I’m cleaning house with a purpose, not to go through the motions. At any rate, I looked ROUGH.

I actually made it to the bedroom and was starting to shed my clothes when reality took me by the baby hairs and said, “WAKE UP WOMAN! Get to the hospital NOW.” The man on the message said it was a bad accident, was he close to death? What if I was in the shower and he died? So many horrific thoughts went through my head and I finally punctured the shock bubble I had surrounded myself with and grabbed my keys. Screw it, I needed to find out what was going on.

Long story short, he was badly injured. His pelvis “was a bag of glass,” according to the ER doctor. (I will NEVER forget he said that). And he needed to be transferred to a university hospital where they could put him back together. (Anyone else thinking Humpty Dumpty? You’re welcome).

Again, long story short, I lived at the university hospital for two weeks, then he was shipped back to our hometown and had another week (? I forget because that whole time frame was a blur) of rehab before we could bring him home. He was in a wheelchair for weeks because he had to be non-weight bearing while he healed. He, in essence, had to learn to walk again.

All of this to say, I didn’t REALLY appreciate him being in my life until that accident. I took him for granted. I’m not proud of that admission, but it’s the truth. Suddenly, our relationship dynamic switched. He needed me more than I needed him. You don’t fully know how much you love someone until you have to wipe their butt. Just sayin’.

That, my friends, is unconditional love. That was the moment I knew, I don’t want to live my life without him.

2. You fully accept your partner. An additional indicator of true love is that you understand and accept your partner for the person who he or she truly is. You’re not trying to change your mate, fix him or her and/or turn him or her into a different person. Rather, you fully accept, appreciate and adore your partner, flaws and all. 

I feel like this applies more to Kevin, than to me. Yes, he has flaws but I feel like I have more. And he’s endured a lot, A LOT, from me over the years. Contrary to popular belief, (or maybe not), I’m not the easiest person to get to know. I am very guarded and cautious when it comes to fully sharing myself and to be honest, I don’t fully share myself, even with him. But he has stuck it out and there are times I look back and shake my head – I can’t believe he stuck around, quite honestly. To me, that shows me he truly loves me because I think the majority of men would have said, “bye.”

3. You can talk about anything. When you’ve found true love, it means that you can candidly and honestly discuss anything with this person. True love implies that you’re completely truthful with your mate, aren’t holding back different aspects of your past and are able to fully open up to him or her. You share an intimacy that’s emotional as well as physical, and your loving connection is stronger because of your willingness and ability to be open and vulnerable around each other.

Agreed. Sort of. I tell Kevin … most things. To be honest, I don’t tell him everything. Not because I have anything to hide but because he’s a man and he’s genuinely not interested in some of the things I talk about. However, I have told him things I have NEVER told anyone else. It started with being honest with myself and then sharing a part of myself that I guard closely and in doing that, I think that helped Kevin understand me more. I trust him and know that he would never tell anyone else and never use that part of me as leverage. Again, it took many years to build that level of trust but we endured and I think those are the keys to any relationship – time and endurance.

4. You’re completely yourself with this person. When you’ve found true love, you’re able to be totally authentic with your partner. You’re not pretending to be someone you’re not, feigning interests, passions or pastimes and/or acting in a way that doesn’t reflect the real you. Being yourself in your relationship is essential to experiencing true love. 

Yes and no. I am myself around him, we burp, fart and are occasionally gross with one another because we ARE comfortable with one another but I wouldn’t say I’m 100% myself around him 100% of the time. I will sometimes feign passions and pastimes because I know NOT doing those things would hurt his feelings. Besides, just because I’m not interested in whatever he’s selling doesn’t make it okay for me to act like a jerk and not pay attention to him. I will say though, after being married for nearly 31 years, we generally do our own thing most of the time. He has his interests, I have my interests and we do things together every week – like a standing date night(s) and doing our podcast together. We enjoy and respect our space and time and we need that to fully appreciate one another when we ARE together, if that makes sense.

5. You respect each other. In order to experience true love, it also means that there’s a high level of respect, kindness and compassion between you and your partner. You can empathize with one another, see each other’s point of view and are able to resolve conflicts and squabbles in a way that’s constructive and respectful of each other’s well-being.

Yes, but it’s not easy and doesn’t happen over night. I used to pick fights with him – not intentionally, though there were moments … but again, after being together for so long, we have LEARNED to agree to disagree. I have to constantly tell myself, “pick your battles.” And often times, our “battles” aren’t bad enough to really make it into a “thing.” I’m not into drama – I can’t stand it, I don’t have the energy for it and I don’t care to participate in it. That not only applies to marriage but outside marriage.

6. You have similar values. In order to experience true love, your morals and values have to be aligned with those of your partner. While you may have your differences, such as where you grew up, your religious background or simply your obsession with football, true love means that you’re on the same page when it comes to distinguishing right from wrong. In a word, having similar principles is a principle component of true love.

Oh, 100%. I think this aspect of “true love” is CRUCIAL. If you and your partner aren’t on the same page when it comes to politics, religion and basic beliefs then I feel like that can often times set you up for failure. And kudos to any couples out there there that can maintain a marriage and NOT be on the same page with this stuff, I know for me, I couldn’t do it. I think finding that balance, all the time, with every situation, day-to-day life, working life, parenting, would just be too exhausting for me. I don’t mind a spirited debate now and again but to consistently have that disagreement 24/7 … nope. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want that in my life. And I hope if/when our boys find partners that they understand and actively seek someone who is like minded. I’m not saying I wish them to end up with a female clone of themselves, but it truly helps a relationship when your partner agrees on the BIG things in life.

7. Your happiness levels feed off of each other. If you’re wondering if you’ve found true love, it’s important to pay close attention to your true feelings and emotions. Does making this person happy make you happy in return? Does surprising him or her or doing favors for your partner give you a rush of joy as well? When you and your partner both have a mutual desire to bring happiness and contentment to one another, you should be happy to know that you’re experiencing true love.

Yes. When your partner is happy, YOU’RE happy. Doing things for your partner is part of showing your love for him/her. True love is loving someone OUTSIDE yourself. When he’s hurting, I hurt. When he’s feeling sick, I feel sick, etc.

8. You’re a team. When you’ve found true love, it means that you’re fully committed, dedicated and devoted to each other. With true love, you and your partner work together as one unit to enrich each other’s lives for the better. And rather than behaving in a selfish or egotistical way, you think in terms of “we” instead of “me.” When it comes to true love, your mate is really your teammate. 

Again, yes. We are definitely a team. We are working together for a future. We are working together to be good parents to our sons. There is no “i” in TEAM. And that’s really true. I will, however, confess that I am selfish with my time. I have talked about this before – I don’t feel like my time is my own, the majority of the time, so the time I do have to myself, I am very selfish with it. I need to work on that.

Here are a couple of more tips that I feel are worth mentioning from this site:

9. True love is not about finding yourself in another. Don’t fall in love, or think you’re in love, just because you want to find yourself. Your identity is not to be someone’s other half‒it’s to be yourself! Don’t get so swept up in your partner that you become them. You don’t need to be the number one fan of their favorite band or read all the books they read. Keep your interests and hobbies and you’ll be more interesting to, and interested in, your partner.

Oh, 100% agree with this!

As RuPaul says, “if you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?” And that’s absolutely true. You need to know yourself, be honest with yourself and accept yourself before you can successfully participate in a relationship. If you’re looking for your partner to define you, you have failed before you have begun. You have to be comfortable in your skin before you can be comfortable allowing someone in your life. And if the person you love doesn’t accept you for you? Then that’s not the person for you. Period.

10. True love is not demanding. Your partner should never ask you to change if you’re truly loved. And if you truly love your partner, you shouldn’t expect him to change. You got into a relationship because you liked each other, and you grew to love each other as you are. Why would you need to change someone you love so deeply? Accept them as they are, and you’ll get that consideration in return.

This goes back to knowing and accepting yourself for who you are. If you’ve done that, you won’t ask, or expect, someone to change for you. What you see is what you get. Don’t like it? Move on.

11. True love comes naturally. Do you have doubts about your partner? Are you not sure they’re right for you? If you’re asking yourself too many questions about your partner, your relationship, and your future together, then you’re probably not in love. When you’re truly in love, you don’t question anything. It feels natural to be with your partner, and you know you can work through anything to achieve that future you’re dreaming of.

We all have to work on our relationships, that’s a given. But if you have to work TOO hard, if you have to change who you are or it feels forced when you’re together, the relationship may not be for you. True love should come easily .. if you’re forcing it to fit your expectations, the relationship will always feel forced.

12. To get love, you must give love. You can’t be in a loving relationship if you hold back. You can’t use love as a bargaining chip. Don’t tell your partner you love him only when he does something good around the house. Don’t give him the cold shoulder if he makes a mistake. You have to love him all the time, regardless of his words or actions, because true love is unconditional. If you give your partner this much love, you’ll get it‒and more!‒in return.

To me, this sounds like emotional blackmail. I only love you when you do something for me and I will withhold my love when you don’t do as I say. I hear this a lot. Your partner is not a dog, do not treat him/her like one. There are no treats for being good, there shouldn’t be disciplinary actions for being bad. You’re two adults that have the ability to communicate with one another. Don’t be shy to tell your partner what he/she did bothered you, or was disrespectful. Chances are, he/she didn’t eve realize their actions were construed that way. Someone who loves you will be willing to hear constructive criticism and will want to do better. I’m not saying it’s always easy to hear that, but out of respect for one another, it’s a conversation that must be had if you two hope to grow together as a couple. And if your partner is not willing, nor has any desire to change his/her behavior, or at least have a conversation about it, then again, you must ask yourself, is this the person for me?

13. True love is based on friendship. So many TV show relationships are based on friends who fall in love over time. It’s a great premise, and a nice daydream, but life isn’t TV. You don’t need to be best friends with your partner since kindergarten for love to last. But you need to be friends with your partner. You need to be able to talk, to share jokes, and to enjoy each others’ company. Over time, the physical passion may fade, but true friendship will last forever.

Again, 100% agree with this. You should not only love your partner but LIKE him/her. In fact, it’s crucial. If you don’t like your partner for who he/she is, how can you build a relationship that will stand the test of time? Forever is a LONG time to be with someone you don’t even LIKE.

14. True love is committed. It’s human nature to be attracted to other people, to allow your head to be turned by an attractive passerby. Don’t let this make you feel guilty. As long as you’re committed to your partner, your relationship is fine. When you’re truly in love, you don’t want to be with anyone else. You can’t imagine spending your time without your sweetheart.

It’s okay to find someone other than your partner to be attractive. You’re human. There are a lot of attractive human beings in this world. However, what is NOT okay is to act on that attraction. You made a commitment to your partner – respect your partner enough to resist the temptation. You’re an adult, not an animal in heat.

And no, I don’t believe someone falls out of love with someone. I think that’s an excuse people come up with to justify bad decisions. I think people get bored with one another. There’s a difference. If that’s the case, talk to your partner about it. Chances are, your partner feels the same. Come up with ways to re-ignite that spark between you. And no, it doesn’t always have to be about sex. Spend time with each other. Find something you can do together. When you’ve been married for as long as I have been, you’re not even the same person you were when you got married. Your partner is not the same person he/she was when you got married. Together, it’s time to rediscover yourself and your partner. Marriage is almost fluid in that respect. You have to both be willing to grow and change together.

Is any of this stuff easy? Hell no. However, anything worth working for is worth having. If you can survive rough patches, and there will be rough patches – think of them as growing pains because honestly, they are, then you can handle anything. I promise you, you will make your relationship stronger. But it takes two to make this work. You can’t improve your relationship all by your lonesome. Sometimes it takes outside help, like a marriage counselor, to help you and your partner to see things clearly. Not everyone is a good communicator but if your partner really wants it to work between the two of you, that person will at least TRY. And it’s hard to accept one’s own weaknesses and flaws. I’m certainly no Betty Crocker – heck, I’m not even that great of a human being most of the time, but I love my husband and I truly, genuinely, can’t imagine my life without him in it.

I can honestly say, the majority of our problems over the years have stemmed from me. I’m woman enough to admit that. I have issues. I’m a cold fish. I’m not very affectionate and I certainly don’t allow anyone into my heart. Kevin has made it past many obstacles and gates but I haven’t allowed him all the way in – there is something deep within me, something I don’t acknowledge and won’t examine closely enough, to let that happen. However, that’s not Kevin’s fault, it’s mine. So I have had to learn to deal with my short comings and be honest with myself and with him, to work through these issues and come up with compromises we can both live with.

And just so we’re clear, Kevin is not perfect either. But we both made the decision, early on, to never bring up the “D” word. (Divorce). It simply wasn’t an option with us. And because neither one of us allowed the “D” word to be an option, or an out, it made us that much more determined to work it out. It wasn’t easy. And it was down right ugly at times, but we made it through and we understand each other more because of it.

So no, I don’t like Valentine’s Day. Because to me, it sets people up for false expectations. You should show your partner that you love him/her every day, not just ONE day of the year. Yes, love is pretty awesome, but it’s also a lot of work.