What 'True Love' Really Means


How one expert knew she found the man of her dreams when he didn't ditch her during hard times.

On April 10, 2007 I had my first date with a man who would become the love of my life. Many of my friends, family, and clients look at our relationship now and use words like, "dream come true" or "happily ever after". So do I; however, I don't think those idealist descriptions pay proper justice to the man I married. Those catch phrases insinuate it's all been easy. It hasn't. Being with David has been the easiest thing I've ever done, not because life is easy, but because when life is hard, I can count on him to be who he is.

Life is unpredictable. Mine no more or less than anyone elses. However, at times our relationship has been a showcase of the kinds of life events that could have been relationship back breakers. For example, David and I were really just getting to know each other when a close family friend was brutally murdered. It turned our little family inside out in ways I couldn't have predicted. The criminal justice system and court system became a part of our lives and my son was traumatized to say the least, and for good reason. A lesser man would have passed on the chaos and gone back on Match.com in search of a less complicated situation. We'd only been dating a month. It would have been easy and might have made sense. David didn't. He stayed in place as a rock, not just for me, but also for my son.

Little did we know, a month before we met, the child we would soon adopt was conceived. We joke about how we were already pregnant before we even went on our first date. A little more than three months into our relationship we were facing down the reality of becoming parents and were instantly thrust into the drama and stresses of an adoption story and new parenthood. A lesser man might have passed on the notion of parenthood so early in a relationship, or even all together. We weren't even living together when the idea that our romance was about to become a full fledged official family. David stepped up. I remember when the question was posed by our baby's biological mother, "What if something turns out to be wrong with the baby? Would you still want it?" David’s response without a thought, "We'd love it anyway." That’s who David is.

We've had life changing family issues, including some that have never resolved. We've moved twice. We got a mortgage, which is this economic climate is a bit like going through an inquisition. We've started a family, and blended a family. Both of our careers have changed so drastically that we couldn't have predicted where they'd be now. We have had conflict that could have torn us apart and we've challenged ourselves to make that conflict a tool to become closer. It worked.

I have become a better person, because I want to be the person he sees in me. I have grown more personally in the last five years than in the 20 before that because I have a safe and loving place to expand my soul. However, I know I am loved even in my darkest and ugliest moments, and they happen. Maybe that's why I’ve been able to grow.

Love is consistent. It doesn't have multiple personalities. Grand romance is easy on the good days. The love of a lifetime has to have backbone enough for the bad days, weeks, and months. That backbone is what separates love from lust. It's where the rubber meets the road so to speak. What I have learned from this man in the last five years is that love doesn't make all of life's challenges disappear. It just makes it easier to conquer them. And after five years, I know for sure that even when life is really, really hard, loving him will continue to be the easiest thing I've ever done.

More relationship expert advice on YourTango:

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.