We can’t judge a love story by its couple.
“Wow, you two just don’t... go together.”
It’s a comment my husband and I have heard from both polite company and strangers over the years. In some ways, I understand.
We are complete opposites in our mannerisms, our personalities, and our tendencies. He is a rugged, bearded blue collar worker who hates reading, loves wearing the color black, and doesn’t care for fashion. I am a studious bookworm who loves everything pink, is a teacher by profession, and has way too many shoes. He is a free-spirit who doesn’t care for authority, while I’m a rule-following worrier. He’s spontaneous and extroverted; I’m a planning introvert.
We are definitely the yin to each other’s yang.
Still, it amazes me how so many people can judge our relationship without even really understanding us. We’ve been married five years now, but we’ve been together for over sixteen—we met at the age of twelve and have been together ever since. Our relationship isn’t perfect; I’d argue that none are. Nevertheless, we’ve found a depth in our connection and a fulfillment from being together that, in my opinion, is what marriage should be about. In short, we’ve found a happiness in our love and an appreciation for the journey we’ve walked together.
Writing online, however, I’ve come to realize how quick we are as a society to pass judgments on everything and everyone, especially when it comes to love. We like to think we can categorize and generalize everything around us just from a quick glance.
As a frequent writer about the topic of marriage, the “you two don’t go together” has been expressed in more depth and sometimes more viciously. I’ve received comments questioning the validity of my marriage, accusing us of being together for the wrong reasons, and ripping our connection apart. I’ve been accused of only marrying him for his beard—seriously—and he’s been accused of being controlling. We’ve been berated for not having kids, some claiming this clearly means our relationship isn’t strong. We’ve heard it all. As so many of us come to learn, the online world can be brutal in its judgments and comments.
Although the online world is certainly a harsh representative of our society, even the “real world” isn’t always kind. I’ve come to realize how much we all tend to judge the relationships around us from our surface-level view of couples. We assume we know couples, for better or worse. We are haughty enough to think we can understand a couple’s relationship based solely on their public persona.
There seems to be a constant need to judge each other’s marriages, relationships, and connections.
The True Defining Elements of a Love Story
Like so many things in life, you can’t judge the true worth of a love story by what you think you know. Real love stories happen behind the public persona created by a couple.
Real love stories are quilts consisting of patches from various circumstances and memories. To judge a couple based on one image is to falsify the snapshots that make up who they are.
To appreciate a relationship, you have to be able to see it in its entirety because in the end, isn’t the journey what truly builds a relationship?
The struggle a couple walks together isn’t always apparent in their public interactions. You don’t know what they’ve been through hand in hand. You don’t know what they’ve earned and built together, what they’ve overcome.You can’t see any of that from the picture they show to the world.
You can’t see what they’ve battled and survived in private by the way they hold hands.
You can’t see the struggles, disappointments, and hardships they’ve faced by the way they walk beside each other.
You can’t see the joys and connections they share by how good they look together.
You can’t see the midnight dances in the kitchen over exciting news, the stolen kisses, or the sweet inside jokes shared by overhearing one conversation.
You can’t see the sweet, simple, everyday moments from the way they glance at each other.
Quite simply, you can’t understand who they are through a rash judgement about the foundation of their love based on outward appearances or assumptions.
This idea can certainly go both ways. The couples you seem to think have it all don’t always. The couples who swoon over each other in public sometimes live a much darker persona at home. Just like in Big Little Lies, sometimes the public version of a couple is much brighter than the serious, dark truth hidden at home.
Regardless, the point is this: you cannot possibly judge a relationship based on public appearance or outside knowledge of a couple.
Moreover, real love stories aren’t about flashy shows of affection or romantic gestures. These do not define a couple. If it were that simple, love wouldn’t be such a complex emotion so many of us struggle with. Love is much more layered than a surface-level appearance.
Real love is much harder to define because it’s a collection of moments, memories, events, feelings, and pathways. It’s an intersecting web of choices and situations that create an ever-changing relationship.
In short, a couple can only be defined by the journey they walk together, a journey only they know and understand.
Thus, we must remember that, at the end of the day, a love story is only owned by two people: the two people living it. The rest of us are just bystanders unaware of the true tale.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing. Learn more about her works here: http://bit.ly/2u42BjU