True love is real!
I grew up in the 80s and 90s watching movies that defined true love with age-old clichés like flowers, candy and romantic walks on the beach. So, of course, that’s what I thought real romance looked like.
The kind of romance that makes your stomach tingle after watching Sandra Bullock finally allow her smokin’ hot co-star to kiss her at the end of the movie.
The kind of romance that you go to sleep dreaming about because that’s all you know and have seen.
SPOILER ALERT: That’s not real romance.
Don’t get me wrong, it can totally be true for some relationships, but not mine.
Here’s the story of the first time I knew that what I shared with my husband was true and unconditional love.
We were on a date at our favorite Italian restaurant and it was football season. Every TV, no matter which way you turned your head, played the same channel, with round tables full of men howling at the screen while their wives chit chatted on the side.
I knew nothing of sports. I knew there was usually a ball involved and sometimes a net and that was the extent of my knowledge. Typical female, am I right?
I asked Andrew, my boyfriend (now husband), to explain football to me. I wasn’t trying to be one of those girls who pretend to be interested, but was legitimately sick of not understanding what a freaking touchdown really meant.
As he explained, our appetizer arrived: Fried zucchini sticks. OMG! YUM!
Normally, I try to hold back on gorging my face with appetizers so that I can enjoy my entree, but I was so invested in what Andrew was saying, that I kept taking zucchini stick after zucchini stick and stuffing my face until … there were no more sticks left. I had massacred that dish!
Then came the entree.
Then came the car ride home.
I didn’t make it to my the toilet bowl. I won’t go into detail but just know that it was not pretty.
I cried because I had a bathroom that needed an atomic cleaning.
I cried because Andrew was seconds away from walking into my bedroom door and seeing me hang out of the bathroom looking like a zombie.
I cried because I wasn’t sure how he would react.
He walked in, told me to lie down on the bed, and he went into my bathroom with a bunch of cleaning supplies and made my bathroom look better than it did before my incident. It was literally glistening.
That’s when I knew that whatever he was feeling for me didn’t have conditions.
He didn’t need me to be perfect and he didn’t need me to be anyone other than who I was.
That has remained true to this very day.
I’m not an easy person to be with. I have my quirks, my issues.
I’m an obsessive compulsive manic depressive person with extreme anxiety.
There were so many moments throughout our relationship it would have made sense for him to leave me. I would have been devastated but everyone, including myself, would have understood why.
But not Andrew. He loves my quirks. He loves my fat rolls. He loves everything I hate about myself and more.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of unconditional love ever since reading Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love.
It was written by Andrea Miller, the founder of YourTango, and it has such profound things to say about the value of embracing the people you value and extending your love for them even to the places that might not be so easy to love… like maybe when they’re throwing up zucchini sticks.
She describes the idea of radical acceptance like this:
“It’s easy to complain that your partner isn’t living up to your expectations. But what’s actually effective — what puts the energy of love in motion — is seeing someone who has flaws, yes, but realizing you can help this person become the best version of himself through unconditional love.”
I asked my husband Andrew for his view on unconditional love and radical acceptance and this is what he had to say:
“Unconditional love and acceptance are the foundation of our marriage. It means love and acceptance without conditions. That has to be mutual and constant. Marriage is about absolute trust in your partner and knowing that they won’t hurt or abandon you after you’ve opened yourself to them. Abusive and dangerous relationships are exceptions of course, but accepting your partner for who they are should be essential to working through marital issues.”
There’s nothing in this world that we wouldn’t do for each other, and as trite as that may sound, it’s the truth.
We accept each other’s faults and work with them to make our marriage solid, loving, and everlasting.
I’m not saying Andrew is perfect because no human being on this earth is (except maybe for Jon Hamm), but he doesn’t have to be because he’s perfect for me.
Our love story is not a new one. We’ve been together over ten years, but the love we have for each other is just as fresh and tingly as it was when we first met.
And that is unconditional love.
Andrea Miller’s “Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love” is now available to order wherever books are sold.
This article by Liza Walter Originally appeared at Yourtango.com