A few years ago, actually more than a few, let’s go with several years ago, a friend of mine told me “love is a choice.” I don’t recall precisely the conversation we were engaged in at the time that lead him to impart these words of wisdom on me but I do recall thinking he was wrong. At that point in my life I was in a newish but committed relationship. Everything was all rainbows and butterflies. I was awash in love. And that love found me. It was fate or kismet or something equally as magical. It wasn’t a choice. It just was. It was mean to be. Or so I thought.
Fast forward 15 years or so. I’ve been married. I’ve been separated. I’m on my way to a long over due divorce. And I’m now navigating my way though a new relationship. And the other day those words “love is a choice” found their way into my brain again. And this time I got it. I think I actually “got it” a while back but just never really articulated it. Love is a choice. And, when you are in a relationship, it’s a choice that you have to make every single day. Love is not just a feeling but a decision that you make over and over again. It is an act of will.
We fall in love by chance.
We stay in love by choice.
So, yes we may find love completely by chance. Being at the right place at the right time. But, we don’t stay in love by chance. We stay in love because we’ve made the decision to be there. To put in the time. To put in the effort. To forgive mistakes. It’s a choice to accept the person you are with for who they are and to love who they are. The choice to be present for that person. And to accept, and embrace, the love they are giving you. Falling in love may be easy. And not just easy, but even euphoric. But staying in love isn’t as easy. Even in the healthiest of relationships. Love is not effortless. It takes work to nurture and to maintain. It takes effort and a conscious reminder to ourselves about the choice we have made to love this person that we are with.
Love can be tricky. You meet someone. You fall in love. That part often comes so easily. But staying in love doesn’t just happen. And sometimes we forget that. Or, especially for younger people, we never realized that at all. So when things start to feel like work it can be scary. Maybe this person isn’t the “one”. Maybe we made a mistake. Or, maybe, we didn’t. Maybe we are right where we should be and it’s time to remember why you chose to be here in the first place. And then choose that again. And again. Every single day.
Or not. Because, let’s be totally honest here. Sometimes the choice we have to make is different. Sometimes love, no matter how hard you work, isn’t enough and the right decision is to chose something different. That’s a lesson I took far too long to learn myself. I should have chose something different many, many years ago. But I’m not dwelling on that. I’ve learned a lot from that mistake. From all of my mistakes. And I’m going to carry those lessons forward and make something better than I ever had before. That’s another choice I’ve made.