I keep taking love quizzes on Facebook and I have had it with them. “7 Signs You Have Found Your Soulmate”, “50 Ways To Tell You Are in a Healthy Relationship”, “How Well Do You Know Your Lover?” and so on and so forth. I can’t resist them yet I inevitably finish embarrassed to partake in such things. What am I, a teenage girl? So, I came up with my own. No long list, no quiz. Just the 3 ingredients I need these days to be happy with a man. “The 3L’s.” Believe me when I say that I do NOT profess to be an expert on long-lasting love. But, I certainly am trying and here is what seems to matter most to me at this point:
1. I need to LIKE you. A lot. As I observe married couples who are still happy, they seem to have a genuine respect for their partner. They enjoy and are interested in each other. It isn’t a tolerance of the other only (I am putting up with you because I am committed to you and feel bad leaving you because I said I wouldn’t but I can’t stand you really). It isn’t a put on for appearances. They aren’t staying together “for the kids”.
There is a brilliant study that predicts the longevity of marriage in 3 minutes.(http://www.isoulseek.com/sitebranches/relationskills/articles/6signs.pdf) John Gottman isolated 6 main signs of trouble in paradise but he emphasized that the number one predictor is CONTEMPT. This is a form of anger which can display itself in many ways but the study focuses on body language and tone of voice. I can vividly recall myself in relationships that were ill-fated and how that type of poison had entered the equation. This stemmed from a loss of respect somewhere along the way and from that loss of respect I became contemptuous. And rather than leave, we tolerated each other with a seething anger, eye-rolls and a disdain between us that showed itself in condescension.
2. There must be LUST. I know better than to think Lust is a good foundation for a long-lasting relationship but it is a requirement. Chemistry, glances across a room, the remnants of his scent, the touch of his skin. We really are just animals in the animal kingdom and heat between us matters. I so wish that this factor was less important to me. I have ended perfectly lovely relationships because I just didn’t feel “it”. I have met many wonderful men but without that unnameable spark, there is no future. It’s what all good love songs are about. It’s what makes the world go round, makes us want to make babies even when it makes no sense. We do irrational things, wear ridiculously high heels and give of ourselves. This fire helps us endure life’s little drudgeries which are inevitable.
3. Last but not least, we must eventually and ultimately LOVE each other. I am talking about real, respectful and gracious love. The kind of love that may mean that I love you so much, I want you to be happy despite how your happiness impacts me. “If you love someone, set them free” and other slogans stick around as long as they do because the true teaching of love is not about possession. I remember hearing this concept when my kids were born-that my kids are souls that I am fortunate enough to care for. But they are not “mine”. Love, at it’s best, liberates us and helps make us our best self. The people I know who are happily married the longest have this in common. They love each other through all of life’s changes, through their ups and downs and maybe they will make it, “til death do us part”.
I have officiated two weddings. One, 20 years ago and they are still married.
*me on the left with the beautiful Bride. We were 23 years old. I was trying to look more Adult but look more Amish?
The other was just last year. Below is the moment when I had them read their vows off the iPhone because I had forgotten them inside. A funny and perfect moment.
I gave marriage and love a whole lot of thought for both weddings. I believe that both couples have what it takes to go the distance and one is half-way there already! The fact that they asked me to officiate (as an unmarried woman) challenged me, humbled me and I dug down deep to find the right things to say about marriage. I, despite my many “failed” romances remain a believer in love.
I don’t know if I will marry again. I don’t know if I believe in Soul Mates or forever for me. I do know that love heals. I believe we all deserve love. I know that after having children, I have experienced love in it’s purest and most selfless form.
I am happy with my guy and I feel all 3L’s for him. And for today, that’s enough for me.