Recently a fairly new friend asked the Mad Genius how we have stayed happily married all this time. Not just married, but *happily* married.
The Mad Genius thought about it and said "Just to love her and for her to love me isn't enough. Love isn't enough." This is so powerful. He continued: "It's not like we have a plan that we follow. Yes, we love each other but we're also Compatible. She's my best friend, and I hope that I am hers. We're friends. Love isn't enough."
He's right. Love isn't enough. Love wouldn't have gotten us through a lot of sh*t. I think that's where many people make a mistake: just loving one another isn't going to fix everything.
Oprah had Lance Armstrong's ex-wife on the other day. As Oprah doesn't usually do the lusty tell-all kind of shows, I was curious. Indeed, it turned out to be a deep conversation about how relationships work. (Note: I said Relationships, not marriages. This isn't specific to marriages but to all relationships)
His ex-wife (apologies for forgetting her name) told how she lost herself. She became what she thought she should be as "the perfect wife". She was baffled - at the time - as to why she was unhappy. She had changed many characteristic things about herself in order to be the perfect wife. In trying to do so, she lost who she really was. As a result, they failed. She wasn't real with him. As much as they probably loved each other, it wasn't enough. I think people make this mistake often as well. They mold themselves into what they think people want.
I have always hated the bar scene. It always irritated me when I watched the guys (my friends especially) ogling the "hot girls". Now, it is not a jealousy thing. Stay with me. It was because I knew that they were going home with an image: dyed hair, styled hair, colored contacts, sexy clothes, make-up. Once she showers in the morning and puts on her sweats, she looks completely different. She looks normal.
Then the girls would be broken-hearted when the guy didn't call again and the guys would be irritated because the hot girl ended up just being "normal".
Attraction wasn't enough.
In "Must Love Dogs", the character Jake summed it well:
"You have to be totally honest, because you've got nothing to lose…we're never going to see each other as clearly, this nakedly as we do right here, right now."
He also says "You can't say 'Happy anniversary honey, here's the real me.' It doesn't work that way."
Pretty wise words for a romantic comedy.
You have to make the effort to be compatible. Sometimesi t comes easily and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you have to compromise. It can be as simple as the Mad Genius will watch "So you think you can dance" and I will tolerate "UFC". He makes an effort to ask about what I'm reading and I make an effort to listen about what he reads. Thankfully, for us, most of the time our likes and dislikes are similar. So, not just compatibility but flexibility too.
I'm not saying that our marriage is perfect. It's perfect for us. Sure, we have some fights and frustrations. It's normal. But we're friends, we're compatible, we love each other and we're real. It doesn't make us bullet-proof, but we've at least got our protective vests on.
It's not about Love.