I still remember the day that my cousin, who has one of the more successful marriages in my family, gave me the most cynical pieces of advice about love. She said, “in a marriage, love is just a bonus.” As much as I hate to admit it, my journey and experiences through love and relationships have only reinforced that statement.
Love isn’t a fairytale. We need to stop shaping our perspective on love based on prince and princess stories because they’re out of touch with reality. Unlike the royalty in these Disney movies, most of us (probably all of us) aren’t born as heirs to a kingdom who can collect taxes from constituents and focus all their time deciphering love. Real people have real problems to deal with and sometimes, chasing love will get in the way of that. At the end of the day, a marriage is not a cupid’s arrow. It is a legally binding contract, which means you’re going to have to be extremely realistic about what you’re getting yourself into. Read the fine print. When making big relationship decisions, love shouldn’t be the primary motivator because love is just a bonus. Love isn’t enough to sustain a relationship and here’s why.
1. Love does not pay the bills
It’s truly a shame that I can’t pay my bills with hugs and words of endearment. For both partners in the relationship to survive, there must be a lot of money going around. Money pays for the home you live in together, the meals you eat together and the lifestyle that both of you require. The first and overriding concept in economics is that nothing is free. With that in mind, love isn’t currency. If you want your relationship to literally survive in the physical form, you’re going to need a whole lot of something that offers tangible value to society. Love isn’t enough.
2. Love does not always positively affect your environment or community
There comes a point in our lives where we are no longer the adventure craving party animals that we used to be. As we mature, we start to crave stability and that is an evolutionary transition stemming from the fact that our children need a stable environment to learn and thrive. More likely than not, you will marry someone who you can best envision raising a family with rather than who you’re most in love with. In my experience, the success of the younger generation is not dependent on how much their parents love each other. It’s dependent on the opportunities and stability that is available to them growing up. Love isn’t enough to leave a positive legacy. Leaving behind a better world for the next generation requires concise, thorough and logical planning for the future. All in all, to offer real value to society and the generation after us, you’re going to have to offer way more than just love.
3. Love does not equal happiness
Aristotle believed the absolute goal of life is to be happy, meaning that everything we choose to do is simply a means to obtain happiness. Therefore, true fulfillment comes from engaging in something with the goal of achieving happiness. We must remember that love is only one aspect of life, it is not the bigger picture. As a result, if you’re chasing love with the intent of being in love, you will eventually feel like you need more out of life. Aristotle would probably advise you to enter into a relationship with someone who brings you happiness rather than someone who you’re “in love” with. When it comes to the overriding meaning of life, seeking happiness trumps seeking love. Consequently, seeking happiness may very well result in falling into love. So keep your priorities straight!
4. Love is constantly changing
We all know that wonderful honeymoon phase all couples go through at the beginning of their relationship. But what keeps couples together after that fiery passion of love expires? It’s not love, because love comes and goes. What keeps couples together is commitment, trust, respect and intimacy. Commitment to each other and shared goals, unyielding trust in one another and intimacy that differentiates your partner from any other person. Unlike love, when these four things are lost, they can never be found again. Once trust is broken, it will never be the same. The same goes for intimacy, respect and commitment. Love, on the other hand, comes in many different forms and will always come and go throughout the relationship. Basically, love evolves over time and its meaning changes as we change. If we only chase one version of love, we will never find someone who is enough for us because people are constantly changing. Relationships survive because both partners learn to adapt to one another. It takes a very high level of maturity to be able to stick it out in a relationship during times when the love feels lacking. But ultimately, those relationships are the ones that stand the test of time.
We like to think that love comes first and everything else falls into place, but that’s actually the opposite of the truth. By sustaining a relationship with trust, commitment, intimacy and respect, love will emerge naturally. In the end, love is a byproduct of succeeding in every other aspect of a relationship. Don’t chase love, let it come naturally.