Led By Example

Unlike a lot of little girls, I didn’t grow up aspiring to be married with children. I think my idea of love was different from what others knew love to be. Obviously you don’t know love until you are mature enough to understand everything that goes into it. As a child, I knew that my parents loved me, I knew I loved them, same for my siblings and extended family. What I didn’t know was what love really was. I hesitate to say that I really know what it is today. That sounds unsettling, I agree, but it’s not all my fault.

Over the weekend, I asked my sister what she found most difficult about being a wife. My 10 year-old niece intervenes with her response, “If I was a wife and I had children, I would find it difficult to do everything because my husband is always playing video games.” To which I responded, “what an interesting observation.”

As a child, male or female, your parents are the first examples of love that you witness. In my case, I was seeing “love” via my parents and my oldest sister and her now husband, who have been together since I was about 5 or 6 years old. My parents are still married and so is my sister, but even at a young age (I guess around 14 or so) I knew from watching them that if that was love, I wanted no parts. Yes, I understand there are different types of love and every relationship is unique to the partners involved, but the examples I had did not leave me with the desire to want it for myself. No, I did not have a traumatic childhood, I had a great one, from what I can remember. My parents and sister always made sure that I had what I needed and most of the things I wanted. We went on trips to amusement parks, museums, and anything “normal” children do with their families. I’m grateful for that.

Now that I’m older and have been in a relationship for 5 years now, I am beginning to understand not only why it can be hard to be the face of love all the time, but what was lacking in the examples I was raised around.

Respect *starts singing Aretha Franklin* I mean, this one is kind of self explanatory. There are certain things that I’ve heard the couples around me say to one another that really throw me off. Especially during arguments. I am able to identify now that this is a big no-no for me. The second I feel disrespected, by anyone really, it’s on and poppin’. However, partners should never lose respect for one another and definitely not in front of the kids!

Partnership Ironic, isn’t it? All the couple around me always had an “I can do bad all by myself” attitude that I found very strange. Not even trying to be funny, but *other* couples on TV always seemed to be together when doing things like making a decision or planning for the future or disciplining a kid or whatever else there is to do as a couple. This does not go to say you should solely become dependent on one another and lose your sense of self, it just means that you agreed to be in a partnership, so you should kinda act like it.

Communication Major key! This goes hand-in-hand with the above. You have to actively luvand efficiently communicate to maintain a partnership. Too many times I’ve heard my dad reply, “that’s the first time I’m hearing this” as my mom announces something to the rest of us. Awkward. It definitely goes deeper than that but without communication, what you got?

Fun Do married couples even have fun? As a kid, marriage looked miserable to me (and honestly, secretly, on the low, between you and I, it still kinda does). My parents didn’t seem to have fun at all. All they seemed to do was work, support us, argue and get over it, work some more, and on the weekend did chores and hung around the house. The most fun I’ve ever seen them have was joking around when family came over; and that’s cool too but is that it?

Passion While this may have been expressed behind closed doors, I think passion is what separates the love you have for family and friends from the love you have with your partner. None of theluv2couples in my realm of examples seemed to be passionate about one another. But again, different strokes for different folks.

The first time I met a married couple that I decided “I want to be like that with my partner” I was already in high school. My views on love and marriage had already been distorted and the damage had already been done. What I recognized about this couple was laughter, happiness, flirtiness (even after being married for over 20 years); they just seemed to float through life together. He always made it a point to make sure his lady was good and she was very attentive and appreciative of his efforts. They are literally #goals, even to this day.

I can only hope that the love I have is something that I would be proud to flaunt and express freely to everyone I know. I want to be happy, who doesn’t, I want to be in a relationship where I feel secure, supported, and wanted. I want to be their #1 priority and vise versa. As I continue on the journey to making my love perfect, I will continue to borrow bits and pieces from the couple that I do admire in hopes that I can be as happy as they seem to be.

What are your thoughts on love and marriage? I’d love to know what tips you have on remaining forever happy or what some of our deal breakers are. Don’t be shy!

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