Last Sunday one of my best friends got engaged to the love of her life and one of the nicest guys I have had the pleasure to know. It was the most beautifully and elaborately planned surprise – she was throwing him a surprise birthday party and unbeknown to her, he had planned to pop the big question during the party. It took quite a bit of sneaking around and no small amount of cunning especially for those of us who are friends to both of them, hence were involved in planning both surprises. Thankfully the plan went off without so much as a hitch and she said Yes! A very emotional yes of course thanks to the beautiful proposal.
Watching them, so blissfully in love and being involved in the whole process really got me thinking about relationships and the institution of marriage. Let’s face it, these days you are more likely to hear negative stories about marriage and relationships and less about couples who are happy – genuinely happy together. You are also more likely to hear about people getting into relationships for wrong reasons leading to an inevitable breakdown of their unions. So when you get a positive story of two people who are happy and genuinely in love, it’s actually inspiring.
Better still, when you get the opportunity to witness the birth and gradual blossoming of a sweet youthful love, it actually becomes a reminder of how simple love can be – if you let it.
We tend to place so many rules and regulations on love that sometimes we miss out on the feeling altogether. Right from when we are searching for that special someone, we already have so many rules that we expect our “perfect partner” to conform to. From the looks to the job to the car one drives, it’s all one very large regulation which can even result in us missing out on a great relationship just because the person did not meet our criteria.
Once in the relationship (if we are lucky enough to find someone fitting our criteria), we create a whole new set of rules that “govern” the relationship. One that particularly bothers me is the supposed lengths of time one must take before certain milestones – for instance we have now defined how long you should date a man before you can sleep with him thanks to Steve Harvey (*face palm*). Plus the varied recommendations of dating periods before marriage can be considered. Followed by the appropriate length of time to be engaged. The list is a mile long.
One question though. Who is the expert who came up with all these timelines which some of us follow religiously? I mean, seriously, does it mean that all people and relationships are exactly the same so it will take the same amount of time to actually get to know a person “enough”? I thought everyone is unique in their differences which is what makes each relationship diverse, but then again what do I know?
I have learnt a few things from watching my two friends fall in love though. Interestingly these are things that I actually knew but I had to re-learn them. One is that Love is as simple – or as complicated as you make it. It basically boils down to the two of you and what your hearts feel. Love is not defined within the limits of time. It is something that keeps on growing if you allow it and give it the space it needs. The decision to spend your life with someone doesn’t mean you know everything about them; it just means you are committing a lifetime to discovering together. (My mother who has been married for 44 years told me that she still discovers new things about my dad; four decades later!!). Love is not limited by age, tribe, nationality or societal stereotypes. Love transcends all these, if you simply allow it.
Simply put, Love is a choice. A beautiful choice.
Congratulations to my best friends Linda and Andrew on their beautiful choice and all of God’s blessings as they embark on their journey of discovery together.