The thing that drove Beyonce crazy.
The essence that when paired with happiness made one of Al Green’s greatest hits.
Our society seems almost obsessed with the concept, or at least the idea of it. But as Haddaway asked in the early 90’s, “What is love?” (of course that was followed by “baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more”)
If you’ve ever been to any wedding that’s even vaguely Christian you’ve probably heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. If you haven’t, wanna read it? Here it goes:
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
Sounds lovely. I cannot fathom the number of times I’ve heard this scripture used as the model of what functioning, healthy, happy, Jesus-centered love should look like. According to many, it perfectly states the standard we should strive for when loving on and being in love with other folks. What it doesn’t say though is love is work.
What it doesn’t say though is that love is work.
And it’s work you gotta do even when you don’t feel like it.
Being in love with another person and subsequently cultivating and maintaining a relationship with that person requires effort. You have to consider their needs, feelings, and wants in the same way they have to consider yours which sounds easy in theory or when “your eyes aren’t big enough to see them” (this phrase is fairly standard black English vernacular meaning you think highly of someone), but what about when you’re busy or tired or your honeybun is working on the last nerve you have left? If it’s love you gotta work it out. Whether it’s figuring out a resolution or deciding to part ways, love requires constant nurturing and reflection.
In writing and revising said writing, there’s always going to be multiple things that worked in previous drafts of your work that just don’t fit in the most recent version. As much as you may have grown attached to that one quote or loved your use of wit in that one sentence once you move and adjust and look back at it, your piece will call for you to change some things around, get rid of things that don’t work, and come up with new ways to make your piece whole. Being in a relationship is no different. Just because it (“it” being any component of your relationship whether it’s how y’all express intimacy, how y’all split chores, how y’all show each other appreciation, etc.) worked in year one doesn’t mean it’s still gonna work in year 3. We as humans are constantly evolving, most times for the better, and maturing and because of that what we need from our partner is also constantly evolving.
I say all this to say that love is about effort. It’s not just striving for the things listed in Corinthians or Instagram pictures about your anniversary. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes things are awkward. With all that you still gotta be able to look through the haze of emotions, past hurts, and baggage and see the person you love for who they are and actively make the choice to love them anyway.
That’s all there is to it.
May sound cliché but that’s the long and short of love. Or at least it’s what I’ve gotten from almost two years into a relationship. The active choice to put in the work to make the best decisions for you and your partner.
That’s all there is to it.
Forever stargazing and daydreaming,
“If you can keep your head, when all about you are losing theirs & blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too…If you can dream–and not make dreams your master; If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters the same…then, and only then, no matter how rough the trip, how charged with punishment the scroll, you are the captain of thy ship! The master of thy soul” -Dr. Bronner’s Moral ABC [paraphrase]