Love is hard. True love is hard work. Why is love so hard? Do you know how to find real love?
Why Real Love is Hard Work
My husband and I have been together for more than two decades, more than half of our lifetimes. We were teenagers, kids really, when we decided to give this whole life thing a go together. We have been through our major adult experiences together: college, careers, 10+ years of marriage, kids…
To some, it may seem like we’ve always had it together, like love comes easy to us.
But let me tell you, love, real love, is hard. It takes hard work and dedication, a full commitment to a relationship.
A TON of work and dedication.
Real, true love isn’t a feeling, like the butterflies you feel when you have your first crush or like the red hearts plastered everywhere on Valentine’s Day. Sure, those things are a necessary part of life, but they’re not the kind of love I’m referring to.
Real love is an action, a choice made every second of every day to put someone else before yourself.
As human beings, that is a tough thing to do. Even tougher is finding someone else who would do the same for you, as in the case of a wife and husband or even parents and children.
And then, add in the stresses of life: jobs, children, bills, health, etc. How are we supposed to live if we have so much going on?
It’s no wonder that so many relationships end these days! We have so many stresses to worry about and navigate through, but then we also have to work at love?
I can promise you, finding real love and working really hard at it is worth it.
What is Real Love?
My favorite description of what real love is comes in the all-famous love Bible passage found in 1 Corinthians 13.
Do you remember it? I’m sure you have at least heard it at one wedding or have seen it on a poster somewhere.
What I like about them is that even if you aren’t a deeply religious person, they are still great human qualities to aspire to.
It’s fine to know the verses and even recite them, but look here how they relate to relationships:
Love is patient, even if you’ve had to repeat yourself several times and they still seem not to hear you. It graciously gives another chance, even when several chances have been given.
Love is kind, even if you’re angry and want to say something hurtful. It holds in any spitefulness and waits until it is cooled down to speak again. It offers a helping hand when someone is in need and speaks kindly even to those who aren’t showing kindness themselves.
Love doesn’t want what it can’t or shouldn’t have, but is grateful for what it does have: a home, a job, a family, food, life. It doesn’t seek out anything that will have a detrimental effect on its life or the life of others but only seeks out what will benefit a relationship as a whole.
Love doesn’t brag about what you do have, making others feel poorly about themselves. It shares the good things in life with those that don’t have any.
Love is not arrogant, knowing when it’s time to give others a chance and to follow their lead. It is knowing when to admit you’re wrong and saying you’re sorry.
Love is not rude, yet is courteous and polite, even in stressful situations. It doesn’t demand things from others but politely speaks.
Love doesn’t insist on its own way, but instead listens and works together toward a common goal.
Love doesn’t get irritable, letting every little thing become an annoyance or nitpicking away at shortcomings.
Love doesn’t hold onto wrongdoings, bringing them into arguments at a later time or constantly bringing them up. It forgives, knowing that everyone has faults.
Love doesn’t take pleasure in knowing that someone has inadequacies or has made mistakes. It doesn’t broadcast these mistakes to others. It recognizes that everyone makes mistakes and has shortcomings, and apologizes when necessary.
Love is content with the truth, even if it’s not what we want to hear but need to hear for our own good.
Love offers protection from the storms of life, offering support whenever needed.
Love believes in others, trusting the good in people, even when they can’t see it for themselves.
Love doesn’t lose faith in others, even if have a whole lot of obvious shortcomings.
Love looks beyond the circumstances of the present to the hope of what might be in the future. It sees beyond trials and tribulations, knowing that there may be better things on the other side of the storm.
Love never ends. Why? Because it is an action that needs to be done all day every day. It’s not a one and done kind of a deal.
Whoa. After just writing all of that, I realize how much work I still have to do! How do you feel after reading it? Do you still feel that real love is hard work?
What is the Key to Experiencing Real Love?
The key to experiencing real love is that BOTH people need to work hard at all the attributes of real love.
When both people make real love a priority in a relationship, the relationship itself benefits. It’s a mutual giving of oneself that helps the other person strive to be better themselves, and this back and forth has the potential to help love grow and in turn be an example to others of how real love works.
Think about a couple who seems to be an inspiration to others. Every hear of someone say how they want a relationship like their grandparents or friends? How do those people show their love?
Even better, sit down with a couple whom you admire and ask them how they make their relationship work. I think you’d be surprised to hear of all the times things didn’t work out even though they still seem to be in love. He snores too much, she spends too much money, he makes a mess in the kitchen, she takes too much time in the bathroom….
So what’s the catch? Chances are, you’ll come to find out they both put in the time and effort to work past all of those inadequacies together, choosing to look past them or find a way to work around them so that the relationship would flourish.
Should We Just Put Ourselves on the Back Burner?
If real love means putting someone else before yourself and your own feelings, does it mean we should put ourselves on the back burner all the time?
As parents, we often talk about just having time to ourselves or alone time to take care of ourselves. Even as spouses we sometimes crave some time to just do something for ourselves.
But does ‘real love’ as discussed above allow for taking care of yourself?
Yes, it does!
You know how on a plane they’ll tell you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others? The same concept applies in life.
In order for you to be able to put others before yourself, you need to be sure that you are in a good place and you have the strength, physical or mental, to show love.
It is totally normal to need to step away for a minute to reboot and recharge, even when you are in a loving relationship. Sometimes that means taking some time to do something for yourself, whether it be 5 minutes alone in your room to read or a whole day away to reboot.
And don’t forget, with real love, everything is a balance. When one person needs to step back, the other steps in. When one person needs a word of encouragement, the other is there giving that encouragement.
If both people are working hard to keep that balance, you’ll find that you might not be on the back burner as much as you thought.
If you feel though like your needs and wants have been pushed back too much, then it’s time for a discussion to bring back the balance. We’re only human after all, sometimes blind to how others are feeling. Talking about it with each other brings forward what has been missed and you can work toward a solution together.
So, How Do We Find Real Love?
I can honestly say that I have no idea how to explain how to do this. I mean, so many people find real love in so many different ways!
I mean, my husband and I met and started dating in high school. I was in 10th grade and he was a Senior. Did we know we’d be together this long? I can’t say that we did!
There is one way to perhaps find out if a relationship is based on real love, though.
I remember reading a while ago about a mother who suggested to her daughter to put her boyfriend’s name in the place of the word ‘love’ in 1 Corinthians 13. The daughter did so and saw that maybe the relationship wasn’t meant to be.
This could be done with anyone, but I even suggest that you do so with your own name.
Why? It takes two willing people to make real love work. You need to be able to meet the criteria just as much as your significant other.
Of course, it won’t be true for everyone every time, since none of us are perfect, but it’s a good starting point to see the characteristics you may need to work on or that you can work on together.
Love is Worth It
Working hard toward real love is totally worth it. Trust me on this one. I wouldn’t have taken so much time to write about it if I didn’t think it was worth it!