As Valentine’s Day grows closer, I have come across a number of romantic images and quotes. The one that always catches my attention is “Love Conquers All.” So romantic. A concept we all want to embrace. A reality we yearn for. And completely untrue. It’s a belief that underlies so much misery. I’m not saying we ought to drop our partners when the first hint of hardship arises, but I am saying that we need to view romance with eyes wide open. Love does not conquer all.
Love Does Not Conquer Incompatibility
Let’s think about this for a moment. To exist together long-term and be happy, a number of things need to fall into place:
1. Sexual compatibility. Sex is a component that is seldom discussed. And yet, sexual dissatisfaction is a common cause of unhappiness. Let’s consider sex for a moment. First up, frequency. Do you both want to engage in sex at approximately the same frequency? If one wants sex once a day and the other a few times per month, this can spell trouble. Next, do you both enjoy the same type of sex? If one of you is vanilla and the other is into kink that can spell heartache down the line.
2. Religious or an atheist? If you are religious, can you handle it if your partner is of another religion or an atheist? If you’re an atheist can you deal with your partner’s belief in God (or Gods)? You need to meet this head on, because if it bothers you while you’re in the throes of new love, how is it going to be years from now?
3. How you deal with money. Is one a saver and one who likes to live in the moment in regard to spending? Probably not the recipe for a happy union. The saver will feel as if their partner has no ability to plan for the future, and the one who likes to live in the moment will feel their partner is a killjoy and a tightwad.
4. What about children? I know of people who got married and never really pinned this down. Do you both want children? Do neither of you want children? Or is only one of you interested? The latter is a huge problem as there is really no way to compromise on this issue.
5. What do you like to do in your spare time? Are you both socializers? Are you both homebodies? A little bit of both? If you are not the same, this can be worked around if you’re both good at compromise. If not, the homebody will feel overwhelmed and miserable when forced to go out, and the extrovert will feel stifled and bored when forced to stay home.
6. Sense of humor. It helps if you both find the same things funny.
7. How do you treat each other when there is a disagreement? Do you communicate calmly? Do you get angry? Do you yell? Do you make ultimatums?
Love Does Not Conquer Abuse
There is never any excuse for abusive behavior – whether it is psychological, emotional, or physical. Abuse is a sign that something has gone terribly awry. Your significant other should be a haven for security and safety. If instead they are a source of fear and hurt, you need to get to a place of safety.
Let’s break it down. If physical violence is a part of your relationship, get the fuck out. And that includes you too, guys. Just because a woman may do less physical damage, does not mean you have to take it. That behavior is wrong – always.
Both women and men tend to dismiss emotional and psychological abuse. Easy to do because the wounds are not visible. And yet, they are as damaging in their own way as physical abuse. All abuse crushes self-esteem, isolates the victim, and creates a constant state of flight or fright.
Love Does Not Conquer Change
This is a tough one for any of us to admit, but we need to discuss it. Humans live a very long time, but often start forming romantic relationships early – late teens and early twenties. We form these relationships before we have much experience in life. We have yet to ultimately determine what we believe in terms of religion (although many of our parents will have given us theirs); we have had only limited exposure to work; we have had no true feeling of being in charge of our own destiny, and truth be told, this feeling often doesn’t manifest for many years.
Some humans don’t change much beyond their young adulthood, but most do. Individuals change in different ways. Maybe one is happy hard pushing at their career. Maybe another wants to give up the career that made them happy for a while and go off the grid. Maybe one finds religion; and the other loses it. It’s not either person’s fault. We are individuals and life forges who we are in ways that are not always in our control. If the couple is good at compromise and willing to accept and support their changes, the relationship may continue, albeit perhaps differently. But some changes are very difficult to overcome. And that’s okay.
Yeah, I know, we are all supposed to keep our relationships for our lifetime or we are some kind of failure. But when people first believed this, lift expectancy was 40 – 50 years. I got married for the first time at 52! (I never found anyone compatible enough to marry before.) I hope we have another 30 – 40 years together. It’s a second lifetime.
So what does all of this mean? It means that you deserve to be happy. It means that you should welcome into your life only those who treat you well, who add to your happiness – and expel those who don’t. It means that even though we live longer than we have in the past, life is still too damn short to allow people into your life that hurt you.