To love and be loved

As we conclude our marriage series, let us look at key points we made regarding this unionization and what to expect from ourselves as partners.

Throughout this marriage series, I’ve emphasized the importance of taking marriage seriously. Not only are we committing ourselves to someone, but we are learning to live with them for the rest of our lives. It is important that we fall in love with the person we are marrying, and not the idea of marriage itself. 

Who we marry determines our future and how we live. It can either be with a partner that helps us heal, grow, love and cherish, or it can be with someone who only makes us tired and wish for something better. We don’t want the latter. 

“You need to keep in mind that finding The One doesn’t mean finding a clone of you who shares exactly the same passions or meets your exact expectations,” said leading life coach, Olga Levancuka, in the article “Psychologists Reveal How You Know You’ve Found ‘The One’” by Amy Lewis. “It means finding someone who is prepared to make your relationship work and you’re prepared to do the same. Relationships aren’t all about romantic getaways and butterflies, they can be hard work and you both have to be prepared to build solid foundations.”

This is absolutely true. ‘The One’ is not always going to have the same interests and hobbies as us. It’s always fun to be with someone who holds opposite interests that allows you to spend more time exploring each other’s interests and passions in life. You might not come from the same backgrounds and cultures, you both may have different life experiences, so discovering each other might take place within the marriage. We still have so much learning and living to do. Life is full of surprises and tests and living through all of these with your significant other might be one of the best feelings. 

When we see fairy tale love stories unfold in front of our eyes, whether it be our friends or from a movie, we can’t help but compare ourselves to them and wonder if we will have the same fairy tale. 

It is important to note two things. One, not everything is as it seems. The couple who seems healthy, loving and having the best time might be facing hardships in reality. It’s important to recognize that love stories aren’t always picture perfect. Two, we can’t have the same love story as other people. It is nice to make an example of their story and hope to find a nice partner that makes us happy in the same way, but we cannot compare ourselves, all of our fates and relationships are different. 

“We live in a tumultuous time. Like all living organisms, love in a marriage needs to be nourished to thrive. What works for one may not work for another, and what worked once may not work now. Therefore, we frequently need to focus on and tend to the health of one’s marriage and not take its existence or our spouse for granted,” said Dr. Shoba Sreenivasan, a Clinical Professor at Keck School of Medicine of USC and Dr. Linda E. Weinberger, a Chief Psychologist at the USC Institute of Psychiatry, Law, and Behavioral Sciences in their article “What’s Love Got to Do With a Lasting Marriage?”

Marriage surpasses far beyond the engagement years, wedding and first few years of marriage. It is something that lasts a lifetime. It can be just as healthy and loving on our 50th anniversaries as it was on our third. What needs to be understood and met are the needs of our partners.

Depending on the couple, some partners in marriage prefer to be more dominant than the other. The main provider or protector of the family, prominently the dominant one, may have stress and many responsibilities. The other partner in the marriage may think more strategically and emotionally. There is somewhat of a balance between these types of partners, and it is evident that both have different needs. 

The dominant partner may need and want to be appreciated as a hero and acknowledged for their accomplishments, while the other may want more emotional affection and to be more intimate with their feelings. In order to have both sets of needs met, there must be effort and understanding from both sides. One person cannot do all of the work to carry out the relationship to make the partner happy, it needs to be accomplished as a dual effort. 

“To feel appreciated and important to your partner, you need to feel heard. Obviously you don’t need to need to agree with everything your partner says, but you do have to listen. And you do have to respect his or her opinion. This means actively listening to your partner, reflecting on what you’ve heard, and implementing a solution or using this information constructively in the relationship going forward,” said Dr. Konstantin Lukin, Clinical Director and Co-Founder of the Lukin Center for Psychotherapy in his article titled “5 Emotional Needs Every Couple Needs to Know.” 

We have to be active listeners for our partners. After a hard day of work or school, we will be the first person to greet one another and explain our day along with our feelings too. It’s important that we show understanding and shift our attention to one another in order to show that we value and care about how they feel because we love and respect them. 

We have to be taught to also be selfless in the relationship, both sides do. If it is one person receiving all the compliments and appreciation, the other can feel burnt out, not seen or uncared for. 

“Is it realistic to think that we can love in such an all-giving, non-demanding way? Research suggests that this style is rarely, if ever, fully actualized. It might well be the ideal we can hope for and strive toward. In searching for true love, we need to redirect our focus and energy from receiving to giving,” said Dr. Krystine Batcho, a professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York in her article titled “Is There Really True Love?”

Relationships are about sacrifices and hardship. We should expect our partner to sacrifice some things in their life, but we must also be ready to give and work hard within the relationship just as much as them. If we want a healthy, life-long marriage we have to understand each other and be prepared to make decisions together that will further improve the relationship. 

“Life is all about change and transition. Nothing stays still or the same, as much as we may sometimes want it to because it makes us feel more secure and safe … Although we may be disappointed, frustrated, or even traumatized by what life has thrown at us, a loving, healthy relationship teaches us that by standing together and moving forward together we will successfully reach what waits for us on the other side. Unity provides strength and balance,” said psychiatrist Abigail Brenner in her article titled “The 7 Signs That You’ve Found Yourself a Loving Relationship.”

While marriage has a different meaning for everyone, it’s important to prioritize what it means to you. Don’t allow others’ opinions hold you back from the true one that makes you happy. In the end, your happiness is something that only you have control over. Trust that you will make the best choices when it comes to marrying the perfect person for you. Beauty will fade, time will pass, scars will heal and knowledge will increase, but the only thing that should change about love is the growth of it within our own hearts.