The first mistake and repeated mistake I made at love was constantly falling for complicated. That feels flighty and foolish as I write it, but from friendships to first loves, I constantly followed my heart down the messiest possible roads.
Friends who took far more than they ever gave.
Boys who had nothing to offer.
Family members that have long since vacated my life.
I was under some delusion that the harder I had to work at a relationship; the more worthy it was in the end.
So naturally, when my husband and I first reconnected and started dating (after years of friendship) the ease with which we fell for one another repelled us both. We had been involved in our fair share of dramatic relationships and so one where simplicity was at the core felt foreign and frightening.
We bucked against the natural way our minds and our hearts connected. We pretended love was waiting in some distant future rather than right there in front of us. We both felt the power of our perfectly unassuming affection for one another, but had zero tools in our arsenal that taught us how to embrace it.
It took both seconds and years to realize what we felt was the elegance of ease of simple love. Being angry with one another was difficult. Hurting each other was unnatural and infrequent. Smiling, laughing and joy came at the most insignificant and boring of occasions.
For most people our age (we dreaded Millennials) there just isn’t enough stimulus surrounding simple love to keep us interested. We’re so used to seeing green grass on the other side that we don’t ever learn to just sit and be satisfied.
Marriage and happy relationships aren’t doomed because people don’t know how to love anymore. The problem is that people don’t know how to identify and embrace simple love.
And it’s not just in a significant other that we’ve lost it.
We have forgotten that we can love our parents without the Kardashian-esque theatrics. We have given up on the warmth of a single good friend in exchange for collecting as many group selfies as we can. We look at our children and instead of loving the simple miracle that they are, we trip over one another on Facebook trying to declare victory over fellow parents. Our constant pursuit of complicated love has left us feeling so empty that when the warmth of simple love enters our lives, we dismiss it as trivial.
We have begun to tell ourselves that a good night isn’t good enough. It has to be glorious. We’ve convinced ourselves that routine is death, so longevity becomes impossible. Our social feeds are filled with the best possible snap shots of other people’s lives and after a few minutes spent scrolling, we feel deficient and deflated.
The biggest mistake we make is confusing simple for settling.
We demonize that which is easy because we’re told “nothing good comes easy.” So we seek out the fight and pursue the hard win, all the while ignoring anything that makes us feel safe and uncompromised.
If there is one thing I hope I can instill in my kids it is that love doesn’t have to hurt or turn ugly to be worth it. That love doesn’t have to be difficult to feed your soul. That you don’t have to continue raising the bar or else risk losing it all. We can help and heal one another by letting small gestures fill our whole hearts. No love is effortless, but we have to stop overworking our relationships. I want my kids to look at my husband and I 10 years, 20 years from now and when asked how we’re still married can respond “they just love each other.”
Simple love may not just fall out of the sky, but we have to start teaching ourselves how to hold onto it when it does appear and foster it when our impulse tells us to run.