"But I love him . . " oh if I had a dime for the many times I've heard that from one of my clients, I'd be a millionaire. Time and again when I tell someone that their lover, husband, boyfriend isn't good for them, I hear that refrain -- "but I love him." Sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, love just isn't enough. Love doesn't pay the bills, it doesn't raise the children, it doesn't support you in times of crisis. Love is simply an emotion and often a fleeting one. Love, despite what Disney, Hallmark and Lifetime have thrown at us, does not make the world go around. I'm not talking about true love here -- love among friends and family, love for country, faith and ideals. I'm talking about the lusty love that often comes disguised as the true, enduring kind.
I was in love once before I married my husband. I dated another man for five years and was sure I'd marry him. We met in college at a party and spent the entire night talking. I can still remember laughing as we watched the sun come up. He and I had everything in common -- the same religion, the same hometown, the same interests. His fraternity was next door to my sorority. He lavaliered and pinned me in very romantic ceremonies. I loved his family, especially his little sister, and he liked mine. He dealt with my frantic, stressed out self during graduate school, and when his job transferred him to Phoenix, AZ, I followed him there. I would have followed him anywhere. I brought my 18 year-old-cat with me, but the move proved too much for him and three months later, he had a stroke. My strong, brave cat simply woke up one day paralyzed. The vet said I could have one last night with him, and then I'd have to put him down. That night, I hunkered down with my little cat who had seen me through elementary, middle and high school. Had moved with me three times and now this would be his last move. My boyfriend, the one I loved so much, chose to go out with his friends that night. It was just a cat, after all. As I sat there that evening, alone with my dying cat, I realized that love wasn't enough. If he abandoned me when my little cat lay dying, where would he be when the big stuff hit? Would he have followed me across the country? Would he hold my hand if I got sick? Where would he be when my parents got ill and needed my attention? All these thoughts and more poured through my head.
The next day, after I went to the vet alone to put my cat to sleep, I hashed this all out with him. Finally, I said, "And when do you exactly plan to propose to me?" He nearly blanched -- his Irish cheeks turning redder by the moment. "Marriage? We're only 23! I don't expect to marry for at least 10 years."
That was it. For me, at least. I knew he was ambivalent about children, but marriage too? I called my dad, he had my car shipped home and I got on the first plane out of dodge. I miss that relationship, that easy camaraderie, but I chose to marry someone who wanted marriage, kids, who knew how to stick by someone in good times and bad. When my old boyfriend and I reconnected on Facebook, I learned that he waited not ten years to marry but almost fifteen and that he and his wife have no children.
Life can be hard, and often love won't see us through those hard times. Commitment, responsibility, and faith will.
If you find yourself in a difficult relationship, don't profess your love. Instead, ask the big questions. Where will this love take me? Is his/her love enough?
I see too many clients staying in bad relationships for the wrong reasons. Stay for the right reasons and leave for the right reasons. Be authentic with yourself, your choices and your decisions. Trust me, you'll be happy you remained true to yourself.