Lies We're Told About Love
What many young men have subscribed to as the idea of love is completely wrong.
I don’t say this because I have it all figured out, but because I was lost and looking for the wrong things for years before being gifted the chance at something far more real.
One thing I've learned about the truest and most life-changing love: it often arrives unexpectedly, awards you unfairly, and begins changing you immediately.
Now, this stance doesn't entirely clash with what's touted in our culture today, but my painful, purposeful from shameless debauchery to committed husband over the past 6 years has me taking MASSIVE exception to what we men are being told about love.
Let’s focus on a few myths that many men fall victim to (I did before marriage corrected me).
Lie #1: It's all about sexual chemistry.
Yep -- had to start there. Let's get real.
Despite growing up in a Christian home and being perceived as "the good kid,” I challenged every boundary I ever could in this realm. I simply saw boundaries as challenges, smashing them as fast as I could with any girl -- even ones I didn't like.
What I know now is that I was not just "sowing my wild oats" or whatever. I was filling a void in my psyche -- trying to satisfy a craving for acceptance, true confidence, and peace. I wanted these things from women, and once I got what I wanted, I lost interest, chasing my next temporary “high” elsewhere.
Yep, I was a troubled kid, but nobody ever told me that. Older guys "atta-boyed" and younger guys openly envied my conquests, only adding lighter fluid to a trivial fire.
God knew that this pattern had plagued me since I was 14 years old, and given that He cares for me, He heard my prayer one day; God, I'm done messing around. I want to meet a good girl and take this seriously."
Just two weeks later, on December 14th, 2013, He sat me down across from a fiery, beautiful, brown-eyed girl from Potomac, Maryland, and my life began changing drastically.
And to make that change true and healthy, He prevented me from being physically close to Daniella for the entire month after we met. Two days after meeting her, I flew to Dallas for work, and the back to Seattle to be with my family for the holidays.
Smart move, God.
After a salty date filled with both awkward moments, critical advances and a solid undertow of intrigue, we kept in touch. First, just over text here and there. Then, a phone-call.
Then, (normal transition here) something like a 10-day streak of speaking for 4+ hours on the phone. Legit!
I essentially wrapped gifts, drank wine, and laid on the couch speaking with Daniella that entire holiday season. And loved it.
And I loved her.
Think about it. In the middle of that phone-call gauntlet, the only physical contact I had shared with D was shaking her hand when we first met, and there I was, completely, excitedly, pathetically, in love with this girl.
I had rushed into the physical stuff with practically every girl before this, and I had never felt like this.
Perhaps there was wisdom — not just traditionalism and control — behind the tutelage of "staying abstinent until marriage."
My own journey is evidence that when the physical is quickly offered and explored, our emotional offerings and exploration are diluted and distracted.
Fast-forward 6 years.
D and I have been together for all of them (married for 5). We have 3 kids, so, yes, there's a physical side to our relationship. Your boy digs his wife.
But saying that every time we connect is as exhilarating as the first would just be absurd.
See, what Hollywood wants us to fall for is the absurd notion that the female is supposed to be the end-all-be-all, Sistine Chapel, superwoman we drooled over at first sight.
When you feel the slightest disinterest, the spark is gone, and this wasn't really true love.
They're right about one thing -- infatuation plays a role early on.
But what they're missing is that the hook of infatuation is just the beginning of something so much deeper, fuller, and better.
Let me tell you what true love is: giving when you don't want to. Apologizing when you were only 20% wrong in your heart. Telling her she looks pretty not just because she does, it because she deserves to feel pretty -- because you see her heart, efforts, and character as much as you do her face, body, hair, etc.
There is nothing wrong with wanting your wife -- again, three kids, mmkay -- but if your goal is to find a woman that you're crazily intoxicated with every time you see her for the rest of your life, you're delusional, man!
However, if you want to have that blistering connection with her via choice, work, and commitment, then you've officially elevated yourself out of boyhood.
And guys, let me tell you: this elevated approach to love is so much better than what society preaches!
Tapping into something deeper with your wife -- knowing her fully (good and bad), humbly forgiving the bad, and enjoying the good -- is more satisfying than anything you'll ever have with just mere physical attraction.
Take it from a guy who’s been down both paths.
After a few years of marriage, sexual chemistry doesn't die -- you just learn how to water the soil supporting it.
Truth #1: Emotional chemistry wins out (and enables sustained sexual chemistry).
Lie #2: Achievement should precede commitment.
Many men have commitment issues.
And many men have confidence issues.
Many men go get great lengths to avoid facing, and dealing with, these issues.
I've done all three, so I'm not judging here, but let's be real with each other: half the time a man says he wants to achieve X or Y before proposing/committing to girl, he is copping out.
He uses words like "stability" and "responsibility" to convince himself that it's a noble thing he's doing -- you know, stringing a girl along until he finally musters the confidence to break up with her (or to find a better option).
I understand that this is not always the case and that some guys really do want to be more stable and "figured out" before they "settled down." Nothing wrong with that.
But if my previous statement carried with it the burden of "oh, sh**, that might be true of me," hear me out here:
Women want heart. If they don't, they've had theirs broken, and nothing you can do materially will mend it.
The woman you want to end up with cares more about the character you bring to the table than the elegance of the food you put on it.
She should respect your hustle, your loyalty, and your convictions far more than she respects what's on your resume or in your bank account.
She needs to feel safe.
Do you know the best way to make her feel safe? It's not a fat 401K and a top-20 degree -- it's your ability to watch the game at a bar, surrounded by women, and keep your eyes where they need to be.
It's her trust that when you're offered a promotion at work, you ask for a couple days to chat it over with her before selfishly committing (out of fear of what your bosses will think about your delay).
All the money in the world the most padded LinkedIn profile, and a stacked 401K cannot give her that security.
Only your heart can.
I want men to stop using the achievement chip as an excuse not only because it's a cheap and tired one, but because they're actually missing a golden opportunity for something special when they use it.
You see, I've been married through times of want and times of great prosperity, and D and I are actually get much closer through the rougher ones.
Well, in these seasons, I let her in. I'm pretty good at that (sometimes too good). Shame is really the fear of not being accepted, and fear is the opposite of love. I keep my love on by letting her into my struggle.
I share what I wish I could do, apologize for the state we're in, and express how hard I am willing to work to get us out of it.
She hears my heart. She sees my willingness to sweat in order to provide. She chooses to believe in me. She's scared and angry at times, but she always comes around, encourages me (sometimes in her own way), and sticks with me (I have never doubted).
She's in the trench with me. At my lowest, she's there. It's beautiful.
If you're waiting for your goals to be accomplished, degree to be earned, and income to be perfectly predictable in Q4 of next year to commit to the woman you love, you are foregoing an opportunity to weigh the depth of her love, and to enjoy the rise from aspiration to achievement with a sturdy partner.
If she's not there with you, the uncertainty will always be there; "did she marry what I could give her, or me?"
If she's there with you, you will always have the confident affirmation of; "she committed to me when I had nada."
A few questions to get you thinking on this one...
(1) If you're waiting to achieve something to fully commit to a girl, is that requirement to check a box in her soul, or in yours? Both are dangerous.
(2) Once you surpass this milestone, do you really think you'll struggle to find another one to delay your commitment?
There's a great quote by Jim Rohn that I've had as my Desktop Wallpaper. It's encouraged me to stop making even the smallest excuses that ultimately prevent me from accomplishing what I want.
Here it is: "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."
If you're never going to truly, thoroughly, genuinely commit to this girl, break up with her. Save her time and heartache.
If you can't imagine living without her, make your move. Figure out the little stuff -- and yes, achievements are little things compared to soul mates -- later. Stop building the perfect bridge -- it takes years -- and leap off the cliff.
Love is special -- it might catch you.
Truth #2: Commitment is achievement, and leads to further achievement.
Lie #3: The best couples don't fight.
People fight when they're angry, and to get angry, you have to care. So, the very statement "the best couples don't fight" really means "the best couples don't care," (and we know that's wrong).
My wife and I fought on our first date -- true story -- and haven't stopped since.
I noticed very quickly that the greatest difference between Daniella and the 30+ other girls I previously dated was this: when we disagreed on something, I cared 100 times more.
I wanted so badly for us to be on the same page that when we weren't, it felt like she was reading in a completely different library. She still frequents the less intelligent ones...
I wanted to connect with her on every level, so when she didn't find something funny that I did, it irked me to my core. I would over-explain it to ensure she "got it." Maybe she got it, and it just wasn't funny to her!? The fact that I cared told me that I loved her.
I wanted to experience so many things for the first time with her, and so when she had already done them, what would've normally been a "fun fact" about my new girlfriend would actually breed resentment. I had to talk to myself; "dude, she's a different human, let it go!"
These emotions were in play for her also, and when two young, passionate, highly-expectant people get together, they're bound to fight.
And fight we did.
In fact, I am not proud of many things we've said and done in our fights, especially the early ones in our marriage. We would yell and scream and throw things and storm out and make baseless threats. Two rabid dogs would've shown more compromise fighting over a hot dog than we did over our arguments.
While the style and severity of our fights have (thank God) evolved drastically over the years, I actually believe that passionate fights early-on are healthy -- they prove you care enough to yell.
Then, over time, you prove in a more mature way that you care -- by putting gloves on, establishing some ground rules, and avoiding hitting spots that you know -- from prior fights, counseling, and still-sore scar tissue, are completely below the belt.
Fights can illuminate some of the most important things dividing you in your relationship. Anger is not wrong -- how you handle it dictates wrong and right. The right handling of anger is how big things get done -- how big issues get fixed.
So, as we've matured and stayed committed to loving each other, our fights have become less ravenous, less frequent, and more fruitful. They're not something to be celebrated, but something to be accepted as part of the journey and used for a smoother, more purposeful one.
Truth #3: The best couples learn to fight fair.
There is one all-encompassing truth that I must mention, especially for young men who are weighing their options on who they could or should commit to long-term:
Your attraction to the girl, her love for you before there are stars next to your name, and the cordiality of your fights are characteristics congruent with a happy relationship, but here's the thing: they're all secondary.
I believe -- now (being married) more than ever -- that there is ONE person for us.
A person who perfectly completes us (you're welcome, Jerry McGuire) while perfectly counterbalancing us.
There is something here, fellas.
It doesn't matter whether D and I are licking our fresh wounds in separate zip codes after a late-night, bruising 10-rounder, or I am waiting in some infuriatingly inefficient line at the airport waiting to see her big brown eyes pop around a corner -- this same truth persists:
I am thinking about her.
I am wondering if she called or pissed she didn't text. I am getting ahead of the "where should we eat" question and building my argument ahead of time. Whatever it is, the nucleus of my thoughts is the experience with her. That is love.
It's like she's always with me -- like we're just connected -- and it's been like that ever since I sat down with her for the first coffee.
Do you have that with someone?
If not, be patient. It's impossible to expedite fate.
If yes, don't sweat the small stuff. Don't worry about fights and achievements and how good the sex will be in three years.
Love leads -- everything else follows and falls into place. Go for it.