This is an indirect comment to another post (www.mix-upmetaphors.blogspot.com). I’ll warn you in advance that this post might also be a little tangential. Hopefully you can ride it out with me.
A friend wrote a post about how love is a battlefield. I disagree here just like I disagreed in my comment. For me, life is what you make it. Love, just like life, is not a battlefield, but a lesson. In exploring love, one learns a lot about him or herself, what he or she wants from love, what he or she doesn’t want but can accept, and the things that are a flat-out “HEEEEEEEEELLL-NAW!!!” under any circumstances.
Just like any other life lesson, I don’t know that anyone can say he or she learns as well through observation as he or she might learn through experience, because experience IS the best teacher. I don’t know that one can say that he or she knows how to love/how he or she needs to be loved without a little trial and error. You might find out that the person who you thought you would be with forever can’t love you the way you need to be loved. You might find out the person who you took a gamble on was the person who your life experiences had shaped you to be with. Love isn’t always pretty, but I think the reward is worth any strife you might face.
That said…it can be hard to keep that fact in perspective. I’d be a futhamuckin lie if I said that wasn’t the truth. I think it can be hard in day-to-day relationships (and keep in mind I mean real, requited love -vs- I’m with you for right now because you give me what I want) but it’s even WORSE in long distance relationships. I was telling a friend today that I think you reach a point in a long distance relationship where you feel like you have all the of the responsibility with NONE of the benefits. I exaggerate a little with the capital letters, but…I mean it. You commit yourself to this person, you see them/talk to them as your schedules permit, but depending on your schedules (and the income coming in) date nights might happen VERY infrequently. You can’t just go home and have some one to snuggle up to. You don’t decide to stay in all weekend and enjoy each other. You don’t spontaneously plan to go away for a weekend. You can’t just go home and do the grown up to release stress, to make up, or when the mood strikes you. Hell, you might have to schedule times to do the it-and-the-thing on birthdays or other special occasions. The strong communication that you used to feel was an advantage over couples who could use the physical connection to supplement the emotional one might dwindle to nothing, or change to strong angry words.
I say it’s worse in long distance relationships, but in long distance relationships you may have the advantage of pinpointing where the tide begins to change and try to do something about it. In same city relationships, you might not EVER notice, but just come to a point where things are irreparable and wonder how you got there. Either case represents a valley in a relationship. That valley can be a defining moment. Does one (and ultimately both because it takes two to be in a coupling) decide that the relationship is over? Do both parties decide to talk about what happened and move forward? Neither road is without difficulty, but either road may be worthy.
I don’t think anyone can appreciate a “happily ever after” without some kind of difficulty. I think many people can attest to the fact that when things seem to be too straight forward (or too easy) that either dissatisfaction or mistrust (and sometimes both) can arise. On one hand, no one likes things that come easy, but no one wants love to be hard. Many people agree that real friendships are forged through fire, but no one wants to go through the fire with the person he or she hopes to affirm as their best friend before their families and God. I don’t think you can have both. People say the person you love the most has the capacity to hurt you the worst for good reason. That doesn’t mean you can’t build a happily ever after with that person. If you are willing (and able) to move forward and learn from that moment, beautiful things might spring forth.
For the record, I don’t think that “happily ever after” as a forever state exists. I think that you can aspire to reach it, that it can be a snapshot in your life, but that life doesn’t still itself in that moment. Someone might piss you off, you might have money troubles, your cat might die, STUFF happens. Happily ever after happens as a result to your response to a situation. People might be married and live happily ever after until someone doesn’t put the toilet seat down, or until the babies come (and the baby BILLS/responsibilities come). The couple might consider those valleys, which they can (hopefully) surmount to reach another peak.
In my mind, every day is a new adventure, and each new day has the possibility for a happily ever after.