So ask yourself the question: If I can pick one person to be on a team with, would he or she be that one?
“So how come you and your husband are still together?” The chit chat around us stopped instantly. My old school friends, all of whom were now divorced mothers, stopped what they were doing and turned to me. And I, in turn, looked at each of them. How was it possible that such beautiful, funny and talented women were all divorced? And how come my husband and I were still so happy after 24 years together? I answered as honestly as I could.
“We are a team. We are good at managing our life together.”
They looked at me with puzzled and (was I seeing that right?) disappointed expressions. I guess that this was not the answer they had expected. But then, what did they expect? That I would say something soppy like, “He’s my soul mate,” or even, “I knew the minute that I met him that he was ‘The One?’” Maybe I had to explain myself better.
“Say you fall for a guy because he’s a good dancer. Eventually, you don’t go out dancing that much anymore. Or, he cracks great jokes. At some point you have heard them all. Or he looks really hot. One day, he may get a beer belly, he may go bald. Those early attractions are all fleeting.”
My friends gazed off into the distance, maybe thinking back to what attracted them to their exes.
“So what made you pick your husband then?” one of them asked.
“He seemed like home-baked bread to me,” I answered, “Good-looking bread, but in an honest, solid, good-for-you, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get kinda way.”
The chatter picked back up again as my friends shared that their exes definitely did not fit the “honest” or “good-for-you” labels. They mentioned “fixer-uppers” and “bad boys.” Maybe they had hoped to fix these guys? Some mentioned that they had fallen for their exes because of looks or because they seemed a bit dangerous and exciting. Now, I’m not saying that I have never fallen into that trap or that I haven’t dated these “dangerous” men before. But who wants the future father of their child to be “dangerous?”
I think this is the problem. As people are looking for a life partner, they just follow their feelings. And a sexy, dangerous person will stir up all kinds of emotions and feelings in us. That does not mean that he or she should, therefore, be the person that we date! Or marry! Or have kids with!
Maybe the emotion that overtakes us – butterflies in our stomachs, the electricity that we feel – is simply pure adrenaline? We all know that adrenaline (our fight or flight response) gets released when we are under threat. Therefore, we may think that our body says “This is The One!” when in reality it may be saying, “Danger, danger, run!” We often bypass the good guys (or girls) in our lives and go for the ones that make the adrenaline course through our bodies.So should we settle for a life without excitement or butterflies? No, not at all. But, maybe, experiencing those feelings for someone who is essentially a stranger is not the best indicator of whether or not that stranger is the right person for us as a life partner. We may fall for a good-looking face, snazzy chat-up lines, a six-pack, or a sharp dresser – and think that we are falling for “the main course” when, in reality we are reacting to “the trimmings” of a person. These trimmings change over time. The main course is someone’s deeper character traits. Is he or she honest? Is there empathy? What about dedication and commitment? Or the way he or she views life? Those are the things we are left with eventually; the deeper essence of a person. So ask yourself the question: If I can pick one person to be on a team with, would he or she be that one?
My friends all agreed that they were never really “a team” with their exes, and that it had never occurred to them; the importance of being a team.
Maybe it’s time to ditch Tinder swiping. Instead, focus on how safe you feel with someone, how much you admire them and the life they have built (or are building) for themselves, how much you feel respected and “seen” by them, and how well your different character traits complement each other. It’s all about putting a team together. The most successful teams are often the ones where those with different talents are combined.
I was physically attracted to my husband when I first met him, but it was a calmer attraction than I had known before. There was no adrenaline overload, no panicked feelings, and no obsession. Instead, I felt warmth and a curiosity to learn more about him. That attraction has only increased over time. We continue to discover more of each other and deepen our love with each discovery that we make.
My husband gave me the nicest compliment recently. He said that he found me more beautiful today than I was all those years ago. But as he said it, I saw him think. Because, logically, we both knew that I looked better twenty years ago. Still, I knew exactly what he meant. He said, “You are somehow more…more…” and I finished his sentence for him, “you.” His eyes lit up. “Yes! That’s it! You are more you.”
And that sums it all up. When your relationship is based on the essence of someone, not on the superficial, not on the “outer trimmings,” then the love only gets deeper over time. Then the butterflies can come. Oh, they don’t flutter manically or obsessively but flutter they do; in a steady and ever-strengthening way. And with each passing day, year, and decade you come to realize that you have actually ended up sharing your life with The One.