Have you ever been in love?

Cody Rayne Downes, Medium member since Jan 2018 and an 

Ambiverted fan of effervescent witticisms asks us: 

Have you ever been in love?

Has your definition of that word ever changed?

Have you ever replayed scenes over and over again in your mind of a setting you’ve never been in? For a guy, imagine for a moment, waking up just as the sun is starting to rise. It’s winter so the air in the room is cold, but the blankets are warm. There’s a particular girl next you, buried deep in the over-abundance of blankets on the bed. She breathes in and out slowly, you see the gentle rise and fall of the covers, but it’s hardly perceivable. On the other side of the room there’s a small gap in the curtains and a soft, narrow beam of sunlight stretches lazily across the bed and the dust dances gently in it’s light. As the light makes it’s way to your face, you feel the comfort of it’s gentle warmth and feel completely at peace. For a moment the world is still. That vale of anxiety and stress fades away. You are with her, and she is with you, and that’s all that matters. The sunlight now reaches her face and like the blossom of a morning glory she starts to wake. When she opens her eyes the sunlight amplifies those already gorgeous irises, like gold. She smiles sleepily and you say “Good Morning Beautiful.” and softly kiss her forehead. She thinks she looks awful in the morning, but in actuality you know that she is the most beautiful, precious thing on this earth. Eventually that day does come. And you experience that scene, but it’s better than you imagined. It’s real. You smile to yourself and feel happy.

Unfortunately, day-to-day life and the stresses it brings will eventually get to you. What was once constant thoughtful romantic gestures and untamed passion at some point become replaced with lack of communication and passive aggression. Suddenly it begins to feel like you’ve been on auto-pilot. Were you just living a fantasy when you first fell in love? You might question if you were actually only in love with an idea of someone rather than the actual person. Which brings me to the seemingly shocking title of the article and a potentially controversial idea that marrying your best-friend is a glorified concept we should completely forget about. Now you’re thinking about all those totally adorable posts on social media, “Today I married my best friend!” Before you completely dismiss that idea and stay resolute in your determination to find a suitable best-friend and then marry them, let me explain myself.

It may be one of the most appealing yet illusory concepts, that of marrying your best-friend. But all to often we hear of couples who marry someone that initially seemed perfect and that they connected with so closely, only to find that love start to cool off. Maybe they settled on a partner and then resentment grew, maybe they changed, or maybe you just didn’t know the person like you originally thought you did. Then you see a couple who are absolutely great for each other, they seem perfect, they have the same sense of humor, they like the same things and they are inseparable. You think to yourself, “I need me some of that…” But how does one become someone’s best-friend? Typically it happens organically, out of a mutual shared mindset… but at times you’re probably terrible for each other, although in a fun, cathartic way. You’ll fight, you’ll laugh, you’ll defend them to the grave, love them, protect them, and they’ll do the same for you. Sounds great right? But one of the nicest things about the relationship you share with your best-friend is that in most cases it originated and stays to some degree, effortless. Which is my main cause for concern when people daydream about marrying someone with the expectation of a best-friend.

Like most people I am completely unqualified to offer advice or insight, although I am human. The majority of us are all very similar in nature when it comes to our struggle with emotion. We have a wonderful and terrible mind that erases and a heart that changes. We rock back and forth between highs and lows as we attempt to chart a successful course through the ebbs and flows of life. Marriage is an institution that we choose to enter and the blame or accolade from success or failure of that bond falls solely on us and our partner. It’s an odd thing that your spouse is the only family member that you didn’t always love unconditionally. And by unconditional love, I mean that overwhelmingly sincere obligation and honor, to care for another human to the highest degree without even having to know them first. To put it simpler, if you fall out of love with your spouse you will still love the child you share, even if the child breaks your heart, disappoints you, leaves, or maybe even kills someone… If you expect to have that undying bond with someone you marry without working your ass off, it will fail. This demands a higher caliber of connection and effort than what we expect out of a best-friend.

In many countries the custom of arranged marriage is still a thing. Statistics show that in the first couple years of an arranged marriage, many report being less happy compared to those who chose their partner. But statistics also show that ironically, they report being happier in the long-term compared to those who chose their partner. A possible reason as to why is that they enter the relationship with the idea of it being a partnership. A relationship that they have to make work. Now I’m not an advocate for arranged marriages, that said, the principle is akin to marital success and happiness. Infatuation and crushes will fade but trust and reliance built over time with consistent work contributes to a deeper love. Whether you chose to marry, relationships will have a bell curve of twitterpation and confusion. At first your partner can do no wrong, you’ll ignore the red flags and dismiss the advice of your friends or family. Or you do the opposite. People close to you may love your new beau but deep down you have this nagging feeling they aren’t the one because of an internal fantasy of what love should be. The tragic and conflicted heart will always do its best to screw you over, if you let it. The idea of what love should be is forged at a young age. It could be from the culture or environment you grew up in, or in some cases just your fierce determination to be different from your parents.

At this point it may come across that I am painting a rather grim picture of love. True love though, is in fact one of the only things I know for certain is real. Yet we fool ourselves if we pretend that we cannot even fathom the idea of being attracted to someone that is not our spouse. Thus we may run the risk of taking that love for granted. The reason someone in a lasting marriage stays faithful is that they are honest with themselves, know their weaknesses but those weaknesses are overpowered by the loyalty that deep mutual respect and true love demands. The reasons we stay loyal will be unique to us, and by remembering how much better our partner has made us. The surety that we would be utterly lost without them, and that cheapening that bond would completely devastate us. While they may annoy us to no end, not always understand us, or be able to read our minds like we wish they could, they are the greatest thing on this earth. And they feel the exact same way about us. Compromise may seem like a bummer of a concept but it is the solid foundation that this proverbial church is built on. This involves constant effort on our end to not take things for granted and keep our fantasies in check. Reality is always better than fantasy. Unless of course you’re the sort of person who would be content with obnoxiously winning monopoly every time while at the same time having a 520 credit score in real life.

Thankfully the world and the rules of the universe do not dictate things in black and white, in fact the majority of things fall in a quasi-comfortable grey-area. You can marry someone you are close with, who is your friend, soul-mate and still be fiercely attracted to them. One of the keys though perhaps ironically in the context of this article, is to in fact, be friends. Perhaps not best-friends when you get married, just true-friends with all-encompassing benefits and deep respect. Many years down the road you’ll be that cute couple still holding each other’s now wrinkled hands, still holding the door open for her, and buying her flowers, to you she is still the most beautiful thing on this earth. You are with her, and she is with you, and that’s all that matters. Now the thing you fear the most is the possibility of losing your best-friend.

So while my personal opinion is that you shouldn’t marry your best-friend, I do believe that eventually… you should find yourself married to your best-friend. The only way you will know what type of person you will be happy with in the long run, is to first know yourself to the best of your ability. Make sure the person that you invest your time in makes you better. They make you laugh. And most important, you see a positive future with them where you can grow in love together. The investment in a long-lasting partnership that is full of love does take work but it is far greater than the common alternative. Instead of fantasizing about what you think love should be, put in the hard work and see the blessings that result. Because whatever that scene is that you play over and over again in your head, you’ll find eventually that day does come. And you experience that scene, but it’s better than you imagined. It’s real. You’ll smile to yourself and feel happy.

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