Marriage was an invention.
The closest correlation to how little we understand about marriage is probably the stock market. Wealth is built on investments, and although few people understand the ins and outs of Wall Street, we rely on the financial industry to make us rich.
Similarly, marriage was invented to keep track of property and to grow wealth, yet most single adults are ignorant to the core principles of marriage. We are so misguided on what marriage really is, that few people accept that love and marriage have nothing to do with each other.
In her bestseller, ‘The State of Affairs’ , therapist Esther Perel writes: “I love you. Let’s get married. For most of history, those two sentences were never joined.”
There is so much misinformation about marriage, that even as it rapidly declines, most single adults have no idea what it takes to get married, or stay married. Statistically, it’s obvious that we don’t know what we are doing. If you’re single, and want to be married, you might find yourself at a loss to how the entire process works. This isn’t too unlike finance. Most people admit that they’d like to have more money, but hardly know where to start when it comes to being rich. And statistically, most people aren’t rich.
Society can no longer ignore that most adults are ill prepared for partnership. Not only is the marriage rate at its lowest, so is the US birthrate. We spend so much time becoming someone that we forget how to share ourselves with anyone else. So if you want to meet the person that you will marry there is a process that almost no one is taught. But similarly to being naturally gifted at math, or athletics, some people master it effortlessly.
If being single was a problem to solve, which I don’t believe it is, this would be the solution. It’s a shame that we are so entrapped and conditioned by advertising and movies, that we fail to acknowledge that being married, and being rich, are no accidents. They both take concerted effort, and the working knowledge of the industries that support both endeavors. This is simply to explain that the institution of marriage has inner workers that most individuals fail to respect, and stay single as a result.
Forget About a Reciprocity
Giving and getting is a concept for those who are afraid to go without. When your ego gets in the way, it’s easy to focus on what you will have to do for the love that you want. Before we even get into a committed relationship, we start to factor all of the emotional costs, as if there could ever be a real tally.
If think about the phrase “return on investment” it’s the expectation that when you invest, your return will be far great than what you initially invested. If the concept of investing were, you’ll get exactly what you put in, we wouldn’t do it. When you invest properly in a relationship, the yield will always be greater than what you give. It’s like having a child. There is no reciprocity in parenthood. You give. And there is no reciprocity in love. You love because it feels good. Even past the point of being good for us we love. The challenge then is finding someone to love, and not because you will be rewarded. Which leads into the next step of finding a partner.
Be Ok With Giving
It’s ok to be the person that does too much, or does more than is required, as long as you don’t negotiate your value in the process. When we feel insecure, it is so easy to judge other people as desperate. Always telling ourselves that we don’t want to come across as desperate. What is desperation? Really, really wanting something? Or just letting it show how badly you want it?
Giving in a relationship is not a sign that you are desperate. It’s ok to give as long as it’s in line with your standards. Your standards are the minimum behavior that you will accept from another person, and allow of yourself.
Being flexible, empathetic, and understanding can be healthy in finding love. It doesn’t mean someone will walk all over you. It doesn’t mean that you will be taken for granted. When you fear these things, it’s because you haven’t established your true value. You are waiting for other people to appreciate you before you feel worthy. A person who has a lot to give, can be generous with who they are, including their affection and their attention because they know their value isn’t compromised by other people.
Let The Wrong People Go
Potential is a funny thing, as long as you never use it, you always have it. When you meet someone who has potential but doesn’t want what you want. Let. Them. Go. Someone once said love was a numbers game, and they were right.
We will meet more people this year, than our ancestors met their entire lives. We will learn more about other’s people’s problems and pain through television and reality shows than we will about our closest friends. We are introducing so many new people, real and fiction, into our minds that our brain can sometimes feel eager to hold on to anyone who connects with us in all three dimensions. The fastest way to meet the person that you will marry is to move on from those you won’t, or who aren’t interested in marrying you. There are plenty of fish in the sea but you should catch them with a net, and not a spear.
Let Go Of the Fairytale
As Esther Perel writes: Never before have our expectations of marriage taken on such epic proportions. We still want everything the traditional family was meant to provide—security, children, property, and respectability—but now we also want our partner to love us, to desire us, to be interested in us. We should be best friends, trusted confidants, and passionate lovers to boot. The human imagination has conjured up a new Olympus: that love will remain unconditional, intimacy enthralling, and sex oh-so-exciting, for the long haul, with one person. And the long haul keeps getting longer.
It’s okay to fall in love with someone who doesn’t fit your “type”.
It’s okay to make more money, or less money, than your partner. It’s okay to really want to be in a relationship and pass up ‘good’ relationships for great ones. It’s ok, if you can’t afford a wedding, but you know that the person you’re with loves you to pieces. Life is not a fairy tale, or Jerry Maguire. Love doesn’t have to break you to be real.
When it’s easy, it’s better. You deserve love to be easy and for the person who wants to be with you to show up the way that you are showing up. And that is more realistic than betting on someone who fits the fantasy.