I love our house. I loved it from the moment I saw it online. If there was such a thing as “love at first sight,” it would apply to me with this house. It’s the house I’ve been dreaming about my whole life and when we drove up into the driveway for the first time I said to my husband, “I’ll do anything for this house.” It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for us, and not a day goes by without whispering prayers of gratitude for the blessing of living here.
There was a period of time when we thought we weren’t going to be able to stay here, and I’ll tell you, I’ve never loved the house so much as during that stage. The pain of my love and potential loss was so searing that it sent my gratitude and appreciation into almost ecstatic overload. Everywhere I looked I saw a memory and a slice of beauty, and my heart broke at the thought that we might have to leave it behind. I was able to keep the anticipatory grief in perspective (we have our health and a loving family, that’s what matters most), but I still felt grieved… and more in love with this house than ever.
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If you’re in the throes of engagement anxiety and plagued by questions like, “Do I love him/her enough? Am I really in love?” I hope you’re making the parallels between my degree of love = potential loss story and your love story. We live in a culture that promotes the belief that drama equals love, and without the drama – which essentially means you’re not quite sure if the other person is really in the relationship – you’re conditioned not to feel passion. Here’s the romantic theology of our culture (kind of like a geometry proof):
- Love equals passion
- Passion equals uncertainty
- Uncertainty equals drama
- Drama equals possibility of loss
- Possibility of loss equals love
It’s only in retrospect when my appreciation is dulled (still there but missing that sheen of ecstatic clarity) that I realize what I was experiencing during those few months. Without the threat of loss looming forefront in my awareness, I have to make a concerted effort to see and appreciate where we live. It’s exactly as my clients describe: “I’m taking him for granted. I’ve always known that the relationship was solid but it was only after he proposed and I knew with certainty that he wasn’t going anywhere that I started questioning if this is what I really want. It’s like as long as there was an element of uncertainty, no matter how small, it satisfied that place in me that needs the mystery or the possibility of loss to feel in love.”
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It’s not easy but it’s entirely possible and essential to re-condition yourself to accept and appreciate what real love is about. Real love is stable, consistent, and reliable. Real love is not about drama and mystery; it’s about the here and now. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes it’s exciting. And it takes real effort to keep your appreciation and gratitude alive, to nurture yourself in ways that fuel your own sense of passion, and to see your partner through fresh eyes so that you can embrace the real – and wonderful – love that is right before you.