I fell in love a bunch of times, in my life.
And then, one day, I fell in love for real.
Oh, it always seemed real at the time. Like when my long-term boyfriend and I decided to move in together. And when I vowed to help my next boyfriend overcome his pain and addiction. Or that time I got dumped and sank into the depths of despair, certain that part of me had died.
I loved with all my heart! This is why, when friends tell me that they love their inattentive, cheating, lying, or just plain disappointing partners, I believe them.
Sometimes, you find yourself in a complicated love story. I have, too.
Then one day, I met my husband.
It felt different right away, and it felt exciting. I'm a lifelong music fan and he's a musician. Suddenly, I was going backstage at concerts and going home with the hot guitar player. Everyone who knew me -- the person who keeps a passport just to follow my favorite band -- said we were perfect together. I was breathless with delight when I told my parents that I was in love.
I couldn't imagine this hot, exciting relationship ever getting boring. And, I thought my dad was just being a dad ... telling me to play it safe, when all I wanted to do was dive head-first into a fit of passion. Who wanted boring?
But now, whenever I watch people I care about rake their hearts over the coals of bad love, I see what my dad meant.
Good love can be exciting, sure. But more than anything else, good love is easy.
By the time Billy proposed to me, I was madly in love with him. Our courtship and wedding were a dream. Billy was -- and still is -- unlike anyone I'd ever dated, for a million different reasons.
But to my surprise, that became even more clear after we were married. When the excitement became routine, and suddenly, we were faced with:
A mortgage. Taxes. Chores. A tragic accident that killed our dog. Grief. Ailing parents. Work. Traffic and brutal commutes. Bad days. PMS. Stress. Surgery. Anxiety. Mistakes. Shitty moods. More bad days.
Our love was this naked, vulnerable thing that could only crumble under the weight of it all ... or ... shine brighter than everything else.
It was when I was at my worst that Billy showed me true love.
I thought I was good at loving because I was so used to offering up my heart. But Billy taught me about good love.
Good love is when making your partner happy makes you happy.
Good love is when you trust your partner to do the right thing for you -- and your family -- every time.
Good love is comfortable.
Good love is mutual.
Good love is something you protect and honor. And when times are tough, you draw strength from it.
Good love makes a murky situation clear: you do right by your partner, and everything else falls into place.
When I look back on past loves, they feel very, very different. I had love that made me feel comfortable (like a bad habit). I had love that made me feel excited (sometimes, despite my best judgement).
But those love stories came with twists and turns and false starts. They were difficult. They weren't right. I wish I could have seen it at the time:
Good love is easy.
Life is hard enough. Good love makes it easier.
If you haven't found good love, get out! Keep looking!
Maybe your love story got off to a rocky start. Maybe it came with divorce, depression, debt, a disapproving parent, a bitter ex. Whatever you're coping with, I'm not here to tell you that your love story isn't real. Maybe it is.
But I do hope your love makes it easy. Good love makes a complicated situation so much simpler.
Good love makes you put each other's needs first. So if your so-called soulmate is in the midst of a great battle, I hope love drives them to make the right choices: to pick you, and your well-being, over everything else.
If they love you, it will be easy to do.
I wish you love.