Last week I was working with a couple who came to me because they were having some marital troubles. Having enrolled in one of my programs, we were discussing the power of aligning expectation to reality. Or rather how shit life can be when we have an assumption of the way we think it’s going to go and then the reality turns out to be nowhere near the rose tinted version we’ve been sold. A bit like when you buy an amazing looking dress from ASOS and then it arrives and hugs you in all the wrong places and you realise that instead of making you look like Cameron Diaz’s body double you look like Jabba the Hutt. We’ve all been there.
The discussion came about when *fake name alert* Margaret said (and I’m paraphrasing) “I just thought once you fell in love it was meant to be easy.”
This got me thinking. Who sold us this bullshit?
The more I looked around, the more I saw of it.
Let’s start with song lyrics. No wonder the 70’s saw a spike in divorce rates! Songs from the 60’s and 70’s all advocated an ideal state of love which we could and should be striving for. Now I don’t say this lightly, but amongst others I blame The Beatles!
“All you need is love”; “And I love her”; “When I’m 64”… The list goes on.
All these songs and countless like them, sell us an ideal type of love that’s just out there waiting for us. Like we don’t need to work for it!
The 80’s were no better.
“The power of love, a force from above, cleaning my soul.” Um, my soul doesn’t need ‘cleaning’ thanks.
And don’t get me started on what Westlife did to the 90’s or what Coldplay did to the 00’s and beyond!
“I will try to fix you”
Piss off! Fix yourself first and THEN we can discuss loving each other, totally, honestly and as we are. I’m not rescuing your sorry arse mate!
I could harp on and on but you get the point.
Then my attention was drawn to the movies.
Now, this may come as a shock to most of you but I love a rom-com. My favourite movie of all time is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Ok, it’s actually The Goonies but that’s less about romantic love and more about a treasure hunt. But in the same way The Goonies forces us to suspend our belief about the realms of possibility, I approach rom-coms in the same way.
When Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks walk hand in hand through Central Park, with a hazy romantic sky behind them, made up of clever lighting and partially shot in a studio, I KNOW it’s not real.
In real life, they’d have to hop over a homeless guy’s stream of urine. Or one of them would stand in dog shit. You can’t smell reality through the TV screen.
Seriously, if Pretty Woman actually existed somewhere in Hollywood, wouldn’t E! News be all over it? It’s just not real. And even if it was, you’d still only see the bit where he realises he’s fallen in love with a hooker. Not the 40 years of marriage after the event where she’s screaming at him to put the toilet seat down, or he’s looking at her and wondering when their sexy talk turned into her telling him ‘It’s bin night dear’.
Let’s be honest, if after Baby was put in the corner (and then released though the love of a man…) do you think her secret, forbidden dance with Johnny would be so exciting 5 years later when everyone knew about them being an item? And suddenly sneaking around behind her parent’s backs translated into trips to IKEA? No.
And yet we’re conditioned to believe that this is what LOVE is. We’re bombarded by these false expectations of the Hollywood glow in the same way we’re expected to believe that Jennifer Aniston eats carbs.
Look, I’m not saying that love doesn’t exist. Or that long term, forever love is impossible. But I know it takes work.
My parents have been married for 44 years. They’ve survived 3 daughters, 3 dogs, countless bunny rabbits, hamsters and goldfish. They’ve also beaten cancer, overcome grief, warded off financial ruin, negotiated career changes and God knows what else that I wasn’t privy to. I know firsthand what love is. It isn’t a fairy-tale. But when I look at my parents now, I know the work is worth it. And I also know that it’s not worth the work unless you start with the magic.
So maybe that’s where Hollywood does play its part. Because without that initial, crazy, meet-you-at-the-top-of-the-Empire-State-Building infatuation, we’ll never get the chance to build love. My gripe isn’t with romance… I’m it’s biggest fan. My issue lies with taking responsibility. When we have the honour of someone else’s love, we should do everything in our power to nurture it; to work at it. It’s not a God-given right. Or easy. Or anything to be taken for granted.
No textbook or You Tube video could ever teach me that. My parents did. And I am so grateful.
If you and your partner are in need of a helping hand to maintain and improve your relationship, get in touch today. And please like and share this post, show your friends, your sister, your colleagues, anyone who needs a reminder that love isn’t easy, but it’s worth it!