Love isn’t magic or fate.
When I was younger, I spent more nights than I care to admit thinking about where my future husband was, right at that very moment.
I’d gaze up at the moon like Fievel the Mouse, imagining what he looked like, how old he was, and what he might be doing.
I suppose most girls who grow up on a steady diet of Disney princesses and eventually have their worldview sabotaged by romantic movies feel the same way I did – that there’s one perfect person out there for us somewhere, and he’ll magically appear at just the right moment.
My friends and I used to turn the stems of apples and say the alphabet; when the stem popped off, whatever letter you last said became the first initial of your future husband. Of course we knew this was ridiculous, but it didn’t stop us doing it, and secretly believing on some level there really was someone out there who was predestined for us.
Even as adults, I think most of us still believe in ‘meant to be’. We want to think there’s one right person for everyone. Either we’ve found them and constantly post gushing Facebook statuses on every anniversary, or we’re resentful because they never turned up and we settled for someone not right for us, or we’re single and desperately swiping in search of that elusive spark.
Here’s what I know, though. No relationship feels as good on the inside as it looks from outside. Every marriage is built on compromise, and filled with frustrations and disappointments. No one gets to live the fairytale. I know – I was married for 10 years, and I could have stayed married forever. I could have made it look very good on social media, too.
I don’t regret getting divorced, but I do sometimes wonder if I was foolish to think things would be better with someone else. Should I have ridden out the bad times and worked harder at my marriage? When I told my mother I was planning to leave my husband, she warned me that if I got married again, I’d just be trading one set of problems for another. Was she right? Is it better to stick with the devil you know?
When I think about ‘the one’ these days, I don’t imagine him out there somewhere waiting for me. I don’t think about someone who’s a certain height, or has a particular color hair, or works a certain kind of job. I don’t care what religion he is, or how much money he makes.
‘The one’ isn’t a person who ticks all the boxes on a list, or who was put in my path as fate. He’s just a person looking for the same thing I am: a partner to make days more fun and nights less lonely. Someone who makes life easier and harder, all at the same time. Easier, because he’ll be there when things get rough, and harder, because I’ll be there for his tough times too.
You don’t get to be my age without knowing that life is full of loss and heartache. Someone will be getting a bad medical diagnosis at some point, someone will lose a loved one unexpectedly, someone will have a crisis of faith.
‘The one’ is the person who sticks by you through all of that, and who you want to stick with, too. Lasting love isn’t magic or fate; it’s a conscious decision you make every day. It’s work you both want to do, because you both believe it’s worth it. And yes, sometimes it’s hard AF.
So no, I don’t think there’s any such thing as meant to be – but I haven’t given up on finding ‘the one.’
Images via weheartit.com and giphy.com.
Comment: Do you believe in meant to be?