Love in the movies is like syrup on top of a pile of thick waffles, with all the most decadent toppings: strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream and chocolate. What you don't see is that it is served up on a plate that has nasty, crusty old food stuck to it because it wasn't cleaned properly. The foundations of this "so-called" true love are rarely based on healthy relationships, but on chance and once-in-a-lifetime incidences where your passionate feelings (or maybe it's lust?) speak for your heart.
The stories are always the same: girl meets boy and they are starstruck, but there are incredible odds against them and through deceit, betrayal, and many un-truths, they manage to end up together in the end and live "happily ever after". Or, girl is fawning after an unreachable guy and by pretending to be something she is not, she captures his attention and heart - then the inevitable happens and he finds out the truth, but after a brief episode of rejection and despair, love wins and they are together at last, nothing can keep them from TRUE LOVE. Oh, and in a situation where your "true love" is in a relationship with another person - even engaged, it's okay to pursue this relationship because you are meant to be with them, and nothing can keep you apart! Of course there are other variations of this romantic fantasy, but keep in mind, they rarely blossom out of a healthy, honest, time-tested relationship.
I admit, I enjoy a good romantic comedy, but they kind of leave you either pining for something more "magical" in your relationship, or you see it for the fake it is, and just filled up two hours of your life with nonsense.
There have been times in the past where I've compared my marriage to the fantasy, fall-in-love, on "cloud nine" relationship where there's always sparks and fireworks and being with that person makes you weak in the knees - you know, that kind of love portrayed on the movies where you'd give up anything to be with that person! The problem is, there are seasons where marriage seem to be 90% mundane and only 10% exciting (because you can't just stare into your spouse's eyes all day, reclining and feeding each other peeled grapes - there's work to be done). Add a few (ahem.. maybe even six) kids to the equation, and you have a heap of laundry to clear off the bed, crumbs to brush off your pillow and on top of that, exhaustion to cope with before you could even begin to imagine any sparks!
Yet, I believe a Christ-centred marriage can and should be so much more! I'm constantly in pursuit of becoming a better wife, more dedicated and more passionate towards my husband. I don't feel "trapped" in my marriage and for the most part, I don't feel loaded down by the family we have created together. Within the tornado of our existence - if you look past the busy family schedule, the thousands of questions asked by six little people (well, five because the baby can't talk -yet!); if you look past all the stuff we do as a family, at the core and heart is a marriage.
Our marriage is the heart of our family, and I won't let anyone (not even our kids) get in the way. I'm learning that true love means I shouldn't even let ME get in the way. Yep. That's what I'm coming down to - not that there aren't a ton of feelings involved, but in all honesty, what truly matters and will make my marriage beautiful, is if I am not the centre of it. Whenever I start pulling all the attention to myself, my needs, my wants, and how hard life is for me... well, it gets kind of depressing. I can't imagine working all day and coming into the house only to have my husband thrust a squalling, stinky kid at me (needing a diaper change), and pointing at two children - one pulling on the other's hair, the other screaming bloody murder - and have him say: "Dear, would you please take care of your children? They're driving me crazy!"
Yet, there are often days where I express this to one degree or another as my husband walks in the door and has yet to acclimatize himself to the blazing tempers under our roof. So where was I going with this? Well... I guess I just wanted to express that love is an expression that happens even when you don't feel like it. Sometime you have to choose a loving action despite having had a bad day. After all, this is the person that said they would accept you and care for you, rain or shine, rich or poor, warts and all!
I know I'm super blessed to have a husband who is selfless and caring and always lavishing affection on me. But the challenge remains the same - how many relationships could be changed by selfless acts that don't ask for payback in return? This sort of love breeds a deeper care and compassion for one another - and believe me, there's a lot of joy and passion to be found in a marriage you work on selflessly.
I'll probably still watch some cute romantic movies from time to time... but... I want to be cautious in my mindset. That sort of love is like popcorn - it can get rained on, and dissolves to resemble nothing of it's former self! The love I'm after is solid, secure and based on sound commitment. Real love... the kind that has lots of work involved, but is satisfying and time-tested. It's the kind of love that wouldn't make a romantic blockbuster with butterflies in your stomach and sweaty palms, knights in shining armor and damsels in distress... but overall makes for a wonderful life.