By: Gabriela Yareliz
Allow me to build my thesis:
There are things that are very important to people when they are looking for a partner. We’ll call them the “nonnegotiable.” Weirdly, some can be amended by a persons choice to change or change of opinion; others are what they are. For example, I know people who think age is a very important factor, and they have a cut off as to how old or young they would go.
For some people it’s race and ethnicity (there are some ethnicities that tend to not intermarry or by custom they are not “allowed to”); this one is tough because no one can change what race they are born into, so best of luck to those struggling with that one (or struggling with their families over it). For some, it’s education. I have heard women say they won’t marry someone unless the man has X degree. I have heard of men who do not want a very educated woman. For others, it’s religion; this one is not like ethnicity. If a person makes the choice to embrace the other’s faith, it may work out (See “My Big Fat Greek Wedding“). For some, it’s whether the other person wants children or not; this one has been known to be a deal breaker. You could always persuade the other person or the person may change his or her opinion, but you can’t count on that. You should be ok with whatever the person thinks in real time, not what they could think in the future. No one changes anyone. None of these are bad, and they vary from person to person. These are choices. People are entitled to their opinions and preferences.
Now, with that preliminary explanation out of the way, let’s go to what brought these thoughts to my mind… I was with a friend who told me of an acquaintance’s recent engagement. I am happy for her, but I was a bit puzzled by the announcement. She had broken up with her fiancé for a long time because he wasn’t what she was looking for. We all make choices that later take us to the kind of life we live later on. Part of love is knowing what you are willing to live with and deal with in another person who is just as imperfect as you. Anyway, seeing that nothing has changed, and she is still in the turmoil she was experiencing during their breakup, I found it to be odd. I don’t think the “we’ll figure it out later” works very well. I think that before people marry, fundamental things should be sorted out. I could be wrong; and I am in no way pretending to be any kind of expert in this. I am just trying to think logically here.
My grandmother often says that love is a lottery. That phrase has always bothered me, but there is some validity to it. There are people who marry, and it turns out their spouse acted one way while dating, and then when they got married, everything changed. This happens (disturbing… I know). And really, people change (one would always hope for the better, but not always). No one can know this sort of thing will happen, unless you are psychic or something. These are unfortunate situations, where love really ends up being a lottery. As in most things in life, there are no guarantees.
When it comes to friendship and those we interact with, there is a degree of tolerance we have. When you are going toward marriage with someone, I think it’s important to make sure you share key things (morals, values, vision of the future). There is already so much working against a relationship between two different people, that one shouldn’t contribute factors toward failure. Considering marriage takes things to a whole new level. You aren’t just working with this person or chatting with them as you would with a colleague, but you are going to share a life with that person. You are essentially building something together, and both people need to be on the same page, pulling similar weight (like ox with a plow), or eventually, both will be miserable, frustrated and feeling alone.
I think what bothers me is when people feel they “end” up somewhere; as if they made no choice of their own. The concept of harvest applies to relationships. You can’t plant one thing and expect to harvest another. People have an idea of what it is that they want; they envision their families and the future, but they don’t take the road that takes them there. We end up choosing what does not take us to where we want to be, and then we complain, wondering “how we ended up there.”
Granted, no one is arguing that feelings and emotions are not powerful and that people are people and they are and can be amazing even if they aren’t exactly what we had in mind… But, we need to take responsibility for our choices. We aren’t people who should blindly follow emotion. We are rational beings who can think, weigh and choose.
I met a guy who was wondering why all of his girlfriends were superficial and “the same,” and he was meeting them all during his nights out on the town. He was looking for a serious, straight-laced person. See the problem? We have ideas of what we want, but are we willing to make a choice that ignores feelings, instant gratification, attention–? Are we willing to be the person we are looking for, so to speak? Instead, we choose wrong, and then complain when the foreseeable happens.
People change. Each person chooses what he or she is and becomes. Life molds us and changes us. That is a reality. People need to stop pretending to try to change others. While it’s harder in short-term, the easiest thing to do for peace of mind in the future is to wait for and choose what you are looking for. I am not saying the human will or should match a random, unrealistic, freaky little mental list. I am talking about the crucial things that are so important to you that you don’t want to compromise.
All that said: All the best to the recently engaged and married. And for the rest of us still walking in that direction, let us choose wisely.
You see, love is a lottery in more ways than one. There are no guarantees. If I have learned anything, it’s that nothing ends up to be how you expected. But life is a little easier when you don’t set yourself up for failure.
Let’s not end on a weird note. There are other beautiful, less scary realities about love. There is no love without the freedom to choose to do so. A programed robot can’t love someone because it has no ability to choose for itself. Love is freedom. Love is the most powerful choice of all. Love is a leap of faith and miracle all in one.
Love is a risk, but like the lottery, when we win, it ends up changing our lives forever.