Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Real Love Story: Debunking Relationship Myths [Part 2]

Today I'm continuing my "myth debunking" in the #RealLoveStory series. If you missed part 1, you can find it here. I'm tackling some of the myths we believe or that culture sells us about love, relationships, and marriage.

I'm not good enough for anyone. (Or because of my past mistakes no one will love me.)

I don't have to know you to tell you that's a lie straight from the pit of hell. You have immense value and worth that isn't based on appearance, performance, or past mistakes. (Please see this past blog post for more on that.) Not only is this fact, but I know because I struggled with this myth for years.

I always thought there was something that made me "not good enough" to be in a relationship. Whether it was something physical that I just knew no one could look past, or a slew of past mistakes, I thought there was a good chance no one would love me. But over time I learned to accept who I am and I chose to learn from my mistakes, which changed me for the better.

This is another great opportunity to surround yourself with friends who will build you up and walk with you through difficult times. I had some awesome friends who lifted me up when I struggled with mistakes and helped me see that I could overcome them. And when it came to dating and eventually marrying Nick, one of the ways I knew he was the right one was in how he responded to my insecurities and mistakes. He didn't hold them over me or cut me down, but encouraged me and loved me with grace and kindness.

If I give into his/her demands, everything will be okay.

Um, no. First of all, if someone is pressuring you to do anything  that you don't want to do, that is wrong. They're not respecting you or your boundaries and that's not going to change if you give in. These types of people are typically manipulative, and can be really good at it. So good that you might not even realize you're being manipulated. But if you're at all feeling like you need to or should do something you don't want to do, that's not okay. It doesn't matter what you're being told (like, "If you love me, you'll do this"), you should never compromise your boundaries.

The truth is that the right person, the kind of person you want to be with, won't push you to compromise. He or she won't pressure you do to anything you're not comfortable with, but instead will respect your boundaries. What type of person would you rather be with, someone who accepts you for you who are, or someone you pressures you to compromise? Don't sell yourself short. Stay true to who you are and in the long run, the right person will absolutely appreciate that about you.

Marriage should be easy. (Or a good marriage is easy.)

I'm not one of those people who goes around saying marriage is hard. I feel like enough people complain about how hard marriage is, I don't need to add to that noise. But I also want to be realistic and tell you that marriage takes work. It's a fallacy to think that marriage is simple or easy or that you can just skate through. A good marriage take time, care, and lots of effort.

Think of marriage like a garden: the more time you take to care for it, tend it, and water it, the more beautiful it will become. It will grow, flourish, and thrive. But it's not without work. You'll have to remove weeds, things that will creep up in your marriage that shouldn't be there. You will have to invest time that you may want to spend elsewhere. And you will have to be vigilant against people and things that may want to harm your marriage or tear it down. In short, marriage is what you  make it.

When I find the right person, I'll always feel in love. (Or I'm waiting for a certain feeling.)

I was totally a feelings-based person for a long time. I put so much stock in how I was feeling that I would start or end relationships based solely on that. But here's the thing, feelings are always changing. Love--real love--is not a feeling, it's a choice. It's a decision you make when you find the person you want to spend your life with, you choose that person as the one person you'll love for the rest of your life.

When you enter into marriage, you make vows. In those vows you promise to remain with someone throughout life's uncertainties. I've never been to a wedding where people promised to love each other as long as they felt like it. But the sad thing is, that's how a lot of people act. I know a lot of factors go into divorce, but a big one is people claiming to have fallen "out of love." You don't fall in and out of love, you choose  to love or not to love. You don't stop loving someone just because one day you don't feel especially loving toward them. To stop loving someone is a choice you have to make.

This brings me back again to the fact that marriage takes work. Since love isn't a feeling, it takes effort to love someone. It takes time, dedication, sacrifice, selflessness, and sometimes hard work. It means putting more stock in your vows and decision to love than in your feelings or lack thereof. It means tending that garden of marriage, watering the grass where you are, not looking for something better on the other side of the fence. If you're not ready to do that, then you're not ready to get married.

I hope to unpack some of these topics further within the #RealLoveStory series. Stay tuned for more upcoming blog posts! In the mean time, if you have a question, comment, or myth you think I should tackle, send me an email or leave it below in the comments.

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