Life has a way of grinding us up if we’re not careful. Think about it, where we likely spend a bulk of our week is even called the grind.
Then when we add in the complexities, and at times drudgeries, of relationships we’ve got a recipe for struggle and life sucking burden.
Or do we?
I think what helps keep us in relationships is the hope of rediscovering the feelings we experienced at the beginning. You know the ones. Obsessive. Blindingly optimistic. And idealistically distorted.
We could talk for hours … about nothing (and everything). Hanging on every word and hating the fact that eventually one of us would have to actually sleep in order to function the next day.
As the relationship continued and the lustful longings inevitably fade they are replaced by completely different ones. And if you’ve been watching too many sappy movies or binging the Bachelor/ette you think there is something horribly wrong with your marriage.
Where did the passion go?
Society seems to have an idealized view of passion.
Hollywood definitely does. Just watch most any award speech from whomever just won something and you’ll likely hear their advice of “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t follow your passions and dreams. Don’t settle. Dreams can come true!”
This feels right because it plays off our romantic view of life and relationships. We love seeing the hero get the girl. The happily-ever-after ending. It feels good. So the capitalistic forces took it and ran with it to sell more stuff and make more movies.
But passion, and love, and romance are far more complicated than we’ve been led to believe by Hallmark, Hollywood and commercials. Nowhere do we hear that passion can be unsexy. That it can sometimes even include unpleasant activities that still need to get accomplished because a mortgage doesn’t pay itself, nor does food simply appear on the table.
The truth is passion and love require self-discipline and a certain amount of sustained effort over the course of months, years, decades and a lifetime.
So the problem here isn’t passion. Or even love. It’s never these.
To a lesser extent our expectations get in the way as well.
We have bought into the idea that we should be loving what we do for a job, who we come home to each evening and should be unable to get to sleep each night because we’re either passionately sweating up the sheets with our spouse or so excited to wake up the next day and once again get back to doing what we love!
These types of expectations are what make it so easy to get lost each evening in watching others, or surfing online to see those who appear to actually be living and doing what they’re passionate about.
Look, here’s a slap in the face for you: every job sucks sometimes. So does every marriage.
There’s no such thing as some passionate activity or aspect of married life that you will never get tired of, never get stressed over, and never complain about.
It simply doesn’t exist.
Welcome to life.
The painful truth about life on life terms – and relationships on relationship terms – is the real work begins after the credits roll. After you say “I do.” After you wake up one morning years into married life and wonder if perhaps you married the wrong person.
The real work of passion and love is all the boring, dreary, unsexy things that nobody else sees or appreciates.
Like most things in social media today, the portrayal of passion is limited to the highlight reel. All the nuance and complexities of actually creating a life and relationship with passion is swept away to make room for the exciting click-bait headline.
And we still click it. We can’t help it.
Most of us have been so inundated by these messages throughout our entire lives that we have come to mistake the excitement and drama of love and passion for the whole relationship itself. We get swept away and can’t imagine anything could possibly go wrong between us and our spouse. We think we can ignore their faults or failures (and we forget about our own), all we see is limitless potential and possibility.
This is not passion.
This is not love.
This is delusion. And most delusions usually don’t end well.
Yet another slap to the face: You probably already have something you’re passionate about but you’re ignoring it.
At one point you were motivated and excited and willing to do all the behind the scenes, unsexy things your passions required until one day you got some push-back from a parent, family member or spouse and your passions went underground.
Reality is we give up a great deal of our self for a relationship, and in turn marriage, to occur. But if we don’t find a way to create these aspects of our self again as the marriage evolves, we expect that our spouse will fill that void. Not gonna happen. They can’t possibly accomplish that for us.
So does this mean I’m encouraging you to finally follow your dreams of being a leading a breakaway from the Peloton in the next Tour de France who’s willing to risk your home, kid’s college fund, and even your newborn baby’s next meal?
I am saying that you still have choices, however. And these choices are yours – and yours alone!
You may know full well that your spouse isn’t interested in testing out the waters of “living off of our love” while you pursue your life-long passion of finally competing in the Tour de France at the young age of 47, but you still have the choice to organize a Saturday morning ride around your home town. “Yeah but they’ll be mad if I’m gone all Saturday morning” you may say. To which I’ll reply, “Okay. So your real choice is your passion or your spouse’s anger.”
We always have choice in life. Always.
So once again it comes down to priorities.
The real truth is you already are passionate about something. Perhaps many things. You’re just choosing to ignore them. Or you’re not willing to take the hit for them.
Recognize that this has been your choice … then perhaps in the future when facing this same scenario again you can make a different choice.