This may come as a shock, but you have been lied to.
You’ve been lied to by red paper hearts, by diamonds, by mix-tapes, and by pop music.
Love is not an emotion. It is not a many-splendored thing, nor can you love with a love that is more than love (that guy died in the streets).
If there is one thing that marriage has taught me, it is that I don’t believe in love.
At least, not in the way we have always thought about it. Being married is the hardest thing you will ever do, especially if you did well in school. Trust me, this is related.
Let me tell you how to excel in school. It’s easy. There are 3 simple steps.
1. Show up.
2. Pay attention.
3. Follow instructions.
That’s it. That’s the big secret. If you just follow those three instructions, you’ll do well. You won’t become a leader in a field, but you will pass, get good marks, and your teachers will be pleased because most people have such a hard time showing up, paying attention, and following instructions. Put your phone away.
If you were relatively good at some of this, then you probably aren’t that used to failure. And that’s what you have to get used to when you get married. You will fail again and again and again. Sometimes you won’t even know why. They say that if you don’t make mistakes then you aren’t trying hard enough. It’s true. You have to work at it every day.
Do you remember learning how to walk? Of course not, but here’s how it went.
First, you couldn’t walk.
Then, you took a wobbly step and fell. You didn’t even cry, you toughie you.
Then, eventually you wobbled a bit further before you fell.
Then you teetered and tottered until you finally toddled.
Then you were walking and eventually running.
That’s love. It is not some abstract emotion that you have, or even more disturbingly, something that you are in, possibly deeply. A child fell into something deep once and almost died. They made a movie about it. Sounds terrible.
Love is a craft, plain and simple. You have to be an artisan, a craftsman. Those who are really good at their craft spend time — they devote their lives! — to honing their craft and improving it daily. They may have finished products, but they know that their craft is forever a process.
That’s love. It’s the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yes, that’s right, I’m saying that Harrison Ford knows what love is. It’s the simple, honest, and useful craft made by dedicated hands. It isn’t Byzantine bling, all sparkling and distracting. It isn’t the jewel — it’s the bevel that holds it in place, unwavering, and asking for nothing.
If you can walk or run now, it doesn’t mean you can run a marathon. You have to train and prepare for that. You have to change aspects of your entire life to achieve your goal. That’s love. It’s the cumulative and forever accumulating product of honest and respectful work.
And it’s worth it.