As a child, I grew up watching the Disney princesses find their happily ever after, and in those movies, there was always a common theme: that one day, love would save me from everything that had ever broken me. In turn, I grew to believe that if I could only find someone to love me, everything would be alright.
In your journey of discovering that love is not always enough, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman can be an enlightening read. This book may offer insights into how love, while essential, needs to be expressed and received in compatible ways for a relationship to thrive.
I made it my duty to seek out a boyfriend as soon as I possibly could, clinging to the first man that ever told me those three words. No matter how horrible each boyfriend was, no matter if they cheated to me, no matter if we had no shared values, and no matter if there was no connection outside that ‘spark’, for the longest time, I thought that as long as they loved me, that was all that mattered.
However, as I got older, I began to realize something, especially as I had loved and lost at love so many times: love was not all that mattered. In my first marriage, love was enough for a while. But then, I realized we had completely different values. He didn’t care about building a life, he was happy just to skirt by in life, never really applying himself to anything. He was horrible at managing money, and time and time again, he nearly made us miss our mortgage payment.
As you grappled with the differences in values and goals in your first marriage, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver could provide a deeper understanding of how these aspects are crucial for a sustainable partnership, alongside love.
I was uptight about many things, and he was way too free about things. In turn, we were constantly trying to change each other. And this, is ultimately, what happens in all relationships that lack any sort of common ground. When you just depend on love and disregard goals, values, vision, and compatibility- you end up loving someone so much, that you feel obligated to try to change them to keep them. And that is NOT what love is. This is how toxic relationships are born.
I am not saying that if you love someone, you shouldn’t try to make it work. But when love is all that you have, and you are completely different people fighting against each other at every corner, perhaps love is all you have.
You can love someone with every fiber of your being, and at the end of the day, it simply isn’t enough.
And for those moments when you find yourself questioning whether to stay or leave a relationship where love is present but not enough, “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship” by Mira Kirshenbaum provides a practical guide to assessing the relationship’s viability.