Is Love Enough?

The first phase of any romantic relationship is usually filled with a mix of butterflies and euphoria.  Everything your significant other says and does is adorable.  Their bed head in the morning.  Their “profound” thoughts on the most mundane topics.  Hell, even the way they snore at night are all quirky little pieces of the man or woman you’re in love with.  Everything is blissful and you are deep in the love bubble where sappy songs start to make you swoon and everything’s coming up roses.  However, in just a few short months, things might look a bit different.

Ninety days to be precise.

Love - Oscar Wilde

You see, ninety days is the magic number when the lovable little traits that used to make you smile suddenly start to irritate the crap out of you.  The bed head that you were once so fond of suddenly looks ridiculous.  You can’t believe they have such strong feelings on red meat versus white meat.  And the snoring, oh dear lord the snoring, is keeping you up late at night because it sounds like a chainsaw right next to you.  I never paid too much attention to the first ninety days until an ex pointed it out to me or I read it in a magazine.  Whichever it was, once I was aware of it, I couldn’t not be aware of it.

I started noticing things that bothered me at precisely the ninety-day mark.  There were key decisions and behaviors that stood out and without my twitterpated feelings of giddiness and romanticism, I couldn’t ignore them.  Some call these “red flags” and I have been told that I have the tendency to ignore them.  For once, I wasn’t ignoring them.  I was subtly trying to get to the bottom of them and whether or not they were indeed relationship deal breakers.

And then I got to thinking.  We all have our own red flags.  How do people make relationships work for a year?  A decade?  A lifetime?  Do people ignore the red flags or is love enough to make the relationship work?  Without getting into the details of my relationship, I posed the question to quite a few people.

I got several different answers.

Some folks said, “Absolutely not!  Love is not enough.”  While others, wholeheartedly answered, “Of course!”  What astounded me most were the people who answered the way they did. I noticed a trend.

The few who answered that love is enough had never been married and still believed in the fairy tale, the happily ever after, the riding into the sunset.  They had been heartbroken and rejected and yet they still believed that love and love alone was enough to sustain a relationship.  Having been in relationships both good and bad, they still wanted love and believed it could conquer all.

The majority of the ones who didn’t think love was enough were divorced or had been at least once.  Even the ex whose red flags led me to ask the question said that he didn’t think love was enough.  There was only one happily married person who believed love was not enough.  He clarified that a couple must have common values (i.e. goals, how to raise children, beliefs, etc.) and that without that strong foundation, eternity was unlikely.  He has been happily married for over fifteen years and still gushes about his wife regularly. He just might know what he’s talking about.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a concrete answer for you, Wonderlings.  I personally found that love was not enough and I agree with my buddy who argues that similar values are what sustain a relationship in the long run.  Is that the right answer?  Absolutely not.

Relationships are what you make them.  If you are content with a person whom you have nothing in common with except a passionate love and that works for you, awesome!  More power to you.  If you need someone with similar values as well as love to make your dreams come true, great!  There is no one-love-fits-all and any relationship takes work and patience.

And lots of love.

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19 thoughts on “Is Love Enough?

  1. Karin says:

    Jessica, I agree that a one-love-fits-all relationship doesn’t exist. I was just on a date with my husband (of over a decade and a half) last weekend, and we were talking about the dynamics of relationships with some of our friends. Many of their relationships wouldn’t work for me, but–thankfully–he and I have created together a relationship that works for us. In my humble opinion, commitment is what makes a relationship work (not speaking of dating necessarily, since while dating one is trying to decide whether one would like to be committed or not). I wake each morning and choose to honor my commitment to him and to our relationship–and together we work through difficulties and differences–and we have fun together along the way! 🙂 Thoughtful post! Hugs!

    • Jessica | Defining Wonderland says:

      I love that you and your husband still go on dates, Karin! I think that’s so important to still date your spouse… it keeps the romance alive. 🙂 You are absolutely correct, commitment is a key component of any relationship. Anyone can just exist in a relationship, but to actively choose to be with your significant other, even when you butt heads, says a lot. Best of luck to you and your hubby as your love continues to grow and thanks for the insights. xoxo

  2. Lynn says:

    I think that sometimes what we define as “love” is not always realistic. While I agree that the initial stages of most relationships are full of all things blissful, a love that is meant to stand the test of time also needs to include respect, forgiveness, tolerance & acceptance. In any relationship, whether it is a couple, your parents, your children or your friends, there are times when our loved ones don’t quite live up to our expectations, or their little quirks drive us crazy. If the foundation of your love is solid, you learn to soak in all of the good parts of that love & roll with the parts that are more challenging. In my 32 years of marriage, there have been many times that I have questioned whether our marriage would manage to survive the test of time. Sometimes it is easy & sometimes it is work but isn’t that true of any relationship we share with another person? It is what makes our bonds stronger through the years:)

    • Jessica | Defining Wonderland says:

      I think that sometimes what we define as “love” is not always realistic.

      You are so right, Lynn! I see so many people hop from relationship to relationship when it just doesn’t fit the image of “love” that they had in mind. Without a strong foundation of all the characteristics you listed, it’s no wonder so many relationships end. We need to be respected, appreciated, and accepted in addition to loved. Without those core sentiments, what does a relationship stand on? Great comment and congratulations on 32 years of marriage!

  3. Ashley says:

    I’m SO with you on the subject of ignoring red flags. It’s like you can read my mind. My relationship that recently ended lasted way longer than it should have because I did the same thing – tried to sort out whether the red flags were relationship deal breakers or not, and simultaneously looked past things that should have been bad signs.

    Maybe the answer is that if you can call something a red flag, it is automatically a deal breaker? I just don’t know.

    • Jessica | Defining Wonderland says:

      I don’t know either, Ash. I’ve done a lot of reading and wondering over the years and I still haven’t been able to determine if all red flags are deal breakers or not. Red flags are there to makes us aware of something that might be a deal breaker in the end. Recognizing them and taking the proper action gets easier as we get older and more experienced with dating. Plus, we can take the lessons that we learn in one relationship into the next. Thanks for the comment and glad to hear I’m not alone. xoxo

      • Ashley says:

        I think you’re right, it’s just unnerving to not know which red flags are deal breakers and which can be tolerated… I suppose you’re right, that it’s just something that comes with experience. Glad to hear I’m not alone as well =)

  4. Caitlin | The Siren's Tale says:

    I agree that around the 3-month mark, flaws and little idiosyncrasies begin to make themselves known in relationships. This is also the time when pheromones and chemical reactions between two people are becoming “the norm” as well. So if your biology is saying no or ‘eh’, and the person you’re with isn’t right for you – it makes perfect sense why the 3 month mark tends to be a turning point.

    As far as overseeing annoyances in love, I’d have to say it really depends on the personality of each person. I’m not married yet, but I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for roughly 4 years (living together all this time too). Are there things about him that annoy me? No – not HIM, but things he does. For example, he makes piles of things: catalogs, receipts, etc. I’m an organization freak, so this action of his annoys me, I tell him, we laugh, and then deconstruct the pile. But I think if there were things about HIM and who he was as a person that annoyed me, the relationship would be dead end. Great, thought provoking read~

    • Jessica | Defining Wonderland says:

      I completely forgot about the biological reactions at the 90-day mark. Thanks for reminding me, Caitlin! We all need to pay attention when our body says “no” or “eh.” Those are definitely signs to pay attention to.

      Are there things about him that annoy me? No – not HIM, but things he does.

      What a great point and so spot on! Behaviors annoy us, not necessarily the person. I’m glad you’ve found a way to “marry” your two personalities so that it works for you. Compromise is always a great tool.

  5. Audrey says:

    Such a great post and I love reading the comments on it too. I’ve thought on this question as I deal with the ups and downs of my own love life. This quote from C.S. Lewis perfectly encapsulates my thoughts on it (we almost used it in our wedding ceremony):
    “If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

  6. jansenschmidt says:

    I think it depends on how you define love. Love without forgiveness won’t work, but if you truly love someone, you’ll want to forgive them. But how many times can you forgive? Saying I’m sorry and I love you but continuing to do things that annoy the other person, is not love either, but so many people think it’s enough to hang on to.

    I think we all have our breaking point and what bothers one person may not bother someone else. If we can find the right mix of euphoria and what we’re willing to put up with, we’ve got a match made in heaven.

    Good post.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Jessica | Defining Wonderland says:

      Great points, Patricia! Apologies without remorse are worthless and forgiveness without self-respect won’t get you far either. I hope we all find “the right mix of euphoria and what we’re willing to put up with” with an everlasting love. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  7. hunting for bliss says:

    Love alone is not enough. It has to be bundled with commitment, respect, attraction, patience, acceptance, and compassion….and probably some other stuff, but with those, I think you can get through anything together. I’m very happily married for five years now, and that seems to be the cocktail that works in our relationship. It’s probably a little different for everyone. xo

    • Jessica | Defining Wonderland says:

      You’re right, Tobi. I think the cocktail is a little different for everyone, but your “love bundle” of attributes is a great start. I can’t imagine being in a relationship without commitment, respect, attraction, patience, acceptance, or compassion. I’m so glad you and the hubster have found the cocktail that works for you and have been happily married for so long. And with so many fur babies to boot! xoxo

  8. susielindau says:

    I don’t think we spent a full week together until after we were married. That was 26 years ago. We took a huge leap of faith since we weren’t living in the same state, but we asked a lot of questions and were honest with each other. We’ve been in love ever since!

    • Jessica | Defining Wonderland says:

      I love that, Gary! My aunt and uncle have a success story like yours and I’m always struck by what my aunt says: “I don’t just love my husband, but I like him. I want to come home and talk to him and hang out.” I’ve always thought that was the ideal relationship to strive for.

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