Dear Madame Lestrange,
I grew up watching my parents marriage decay in front of me, watching their love turn into hate and their children wondering if it was their fault. As I grew up I never opened up to any guy, afraid to fall in love and watch my own love decay like my parents’ relationship. I watched my mum bounce from relationships and remarrying just for the love and affection to die. I’m now in a relationship and he often talks about marriage and our future. I swore I’d never marry anyone but I’m now wondering if this love could last. Is it possible for two people to love each other endlessly or is it just a stereotype that has brainwashed me from all the Disney movies, is there a happily ever after? Or is it just for a few years?
Watching your parents’ marriage fall apart is no easy thing to witness. So many friends and family members of my own have gone through divorce, heartbreak, and rebounds that ended badly. Your feelings of fear are legitimate, I mean, what other examples of lifelong love do you have?
I wish I could tell you that love is this everlasting flower that blooms and blooms even after we’re gone, but the truth is very different.
The truth is better.
So many of us get caught up in this belief that love is like a fairytale – quick, easy, and forever. But the truth is that relationships take a lot of work and commitment for them to flourish. That makes it sound like a drag, right? No one wants to feel like they have to work hard to make their relationships enjoyable, but we are all human at the end of the day. Being able to think about how to make your partner happy, how to be there for them even when times are tough, is so important for the growth of your relationship. And, of course, your partner has to do the exact same thing for you. Monogamous relationships are meant to be a commitment that two people share, which means both people have to put in the effort. So often we take each other for granted and then are surprised when things fall apart. We forget that if we want our love to last, we have to fight for it.
And sometimes we put in all the effort we can and things just… don’t feel right. Sometimes we feel like we enjoy spending time with our significant other, but we just don’t feel the same way we did all those years ago. Falling in and out of love is more normal than people think, but fairytales sell us the belief that we only have one soulmate, that we have to be steady and settle down with them, and that we need to devote our entire lives to them. But again – we are all human. We feel attracted to many different people, for sex, love, friendship, or all of it. Sometimes we decide to settle down with someone and feel differently ten years down the line. Yes, it hurts, but it is also part of the magic that makes life beautiful. Out of pain can come incredible happiness – we just have to trust ourselves.
And sometimes it’s okay to be alone. Again, fairytales teach us that we have to find someone otherwise there’s something wrong with us. It’s always the wicked witch that lives alone in the woods, consumed by her loneliness. But why can’t she just enjoy her freedom and quiet in peace? Why is it that only when the princess finds her prince, she feels complete? It is perfectly normal to want to be alone. The “forever alone” rhetoric is forced on us every day, yet there are so many people who are living their best single lives. Pushing ourselves into relationships we aren’t ready for just to not feel lonely is what leads to their ultimate demise.
So, Anon, I know what you’re going through isn’t easy. I know you feel anxious about committing yourself to someone else, especially in something as big as marriage, but remember to trust yourself before anyone else. Trust the relationship you and your partner have before believing that you will have the same experience as your parents. If you love your partner, and you feel like you want to spend the rest of your life with him – go for it! If you appreciate one another and maintain your love, you can have a prosperous life together. But go for it with the knowledge that if things don’t work out it wasn’t inevitable, it’s just a part of the wonderful thing we call life.
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