Falling in love has kinetic energy; it’s all movement, electricity and sparks. But what is love once you’re a parent and the crucible of “real life” has set in?
Can you still call it love when you spend your time arguing about who let the kids stay up way past their bed time?
What makes a person decide to leave a marriage?
Recently I went to an event held by The School of Life. It was called To Stay or Leave. The School of Life was founded by the philosopher Alain de Botton, and their courses examine complex issues through a philosophical lens.
I went to this event, not because I want to leave my husband, but because I have friends who have recently left relationships that didn’t appear any worse than mine.
We all know that having children has a huge impact on your relationship with your partner; the kinetic energy of self-involved love flies out the window and you’re left with something fundamentally different. But is it better, or worse?
Is it better to be in a comfortable, if somewhat plodding place with your partner; or should we be trying to switch rides for something more exciting?
Perspective can be powerful
Unless you’re in an abusive relationship the choice between staying or going isn’t necessarily a contrast of opposites.
You may feel it’s more like being stuck in quicksand, that you’re caught between the competing desires of wanting to be free, and of staying in the companionable relationship you have built with your partner.
When I hear of others leaving their long-term partners, I can’t help thinking they’re brave and that by comparison, my desire to stay might be interpreted as weak, uninspired or that terribly domestic word, “safe”.
But when you apply perspective, with a more philosophical frame of mind, things can look completely different.
Wanting a “perfect partner” puts you on the road to misery
We live in an age where happiness is the ultimate goal. A time when we all have a million choices every day and the agency to make them.
Watch any Rom Com, ad for perfume or scroll through some Insta-famous mum’s account and you will start to think that it’s not only possible to have the perfect husband, it’s also your right to have him.
The ideals of love on display point to a perfection that doesn’t exist. The comparison can make you feel miserable, make you pine for a partner who understands you on every level, and who answers every need.
What our teacher for the night, Monty Badami, clearly pointed out is that as human beings we are all flawed. Just as there are no perfect humans, there are no perfect partners either.
Why should we expect perfection from our partners, when we can’t give them that in return?
Compromise is courageous
Not everyone likes to be in a relationship, some of us prefer the solitary life and are perfectly content within it.
Some of us disdain monogamy, and will always love the thrill of the chase and the crashing drama of romantic love.
But if you want a long term, loving relationship it’s going to take work; it’s going to mean living the real, everyday experience of loving one human.
Their mess, their inability to put the toilet seat down, or their penchant to let the kids party into the night. You’re going to have to talk about difficult things, things that may have made you leave someone in the past.
It means accepting your partner’s flaws and understanding that you have just as many.
That takes real strength and courage and there’s something incredibly beautiful about that.
A letter to my husband on Valentine’s Day
This Valentine's Day, Shevonne Hunt writes down her love.
No Breastfeeding Zone: New mama hangs this important sign up in hospital
And don't judge before you hear her story.
Maggie Dent: 5 ways to raise our boys well (and the value of a well-placed fart)
Mums have a big role to play in raising healthy, happy boys, says Maggie Dent.
Quit work or manage the impossible: Without flexibility, carers face tough decisions
“I got the flexibility but I lost all of the job security.”
Terrible jokes and endless love: Why TV host Matt Baseley loves being a dad
"When I met my wife I thought I couldn’t possibly love someone or something as much as I love her (and Test Cricket)."
Twice as nice: How to survive the first six months with twins
Double the trouble or twice the fun?
Ever thought your kid prefers one parent? Here's why
Like most toddler phases, this too will pass ...
6 steps to making an exercise program (and sticking to it!)
Choose exercise that you enjoy and you're much more likely to succeed.