Saturday, April 10, 2010

Love Sometimes Sucks

When I was a kid I hated amusement park rides. That awful sinking, kicked-in-the-gut feeling that you get as the rollercoaster heads down from the peaks, the slammed against the wall feeling the as the tilt-a-whirl throws you from side to side unexpectedly, and let's not forget the carousel. I actually liked carousels until I realized that you are always trapped going in circles and, even if the ups and downs aren't painful, you still can't get off the damn thing and it goes absolutely nowhere.

Now that I am all grown up not only do I still dislike amusement parks, but I find love is an amusement park, too.

Only now the kicked in the gut feeling is more like kicked in the heart. A hard burning knife-like pain. The heart is a pretty strong muscle, but it seems to have a very short memory sometimes. And any euphoria you felt a few minutes before can come all crashing down with a few nasty words. So not only do you feel pain, you also feel the urge to inflict pain back. And not only do you spiral down and get slammed against the walls that you each have put up, but you both lash out. You make it worse.

Here's the thing, if you want to make it work, make it last, and make it able to weather the ups and downs of the human emotional rollercoaster, you need to remember three rules:

  1. Don't assume the worst. Talk. Get answers, and correct info. Then talk some more. And listen, listen carefully. Then talk again, and be honest. Communication will go a long way toward solving the problems that cause pain--especially if you meet your partner half way and can compromise where you conflict. Conflict will always happen--that's human--it is how we deal with it that conflict that keeps love alive.
  2. Never get so caught up in your pain that you forget your partner is probably hurting as well. Sometimes when we get hurt we lash out at each other and the resulting damage escalates badly back and forth. If one of the two of you has the courage to say "I will not seek revenge," there is hope. If you each can say that, well then, there is real love there. And you will survive the down turns.
  3. Say you are sorry. To paraphrase a famous quote: Love means always having to say you are sorry. And accepting that apology as well. Someone once told me that "sorry is a coin that wears thin over time." That is true. But it is also the best coin--maybe the only--coin you can spend when you are in the throes of pain and anger. None of us are perfect. We tend to make the same mistakes over and over. If you love, really love someone, you will give them the chance to say they are sorry and mean it. You will say you are sorry and mean it, too.

If you are luck enough to have found real love, true love, then you need to work on keeping it. Don't settle for anything less.

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