I’ve seen the same doctor for ten years, and she is amazing. She knows pretty much everything about my life; we are practically best friends at this point. When I got engaged, I made an appointment so I could tell her about it. During the time of my engagement, I was also planning a solo trip to Europe that I had booked before I met my husband. I didn’t want to change those plans just because I had gotten engaged, so I was going to go despite the fact that I was planning a wedding at the same time. During this time in my life, I was going through a lot of changesprobably more than ever before. Because of this, I was feeling overwhelmed and more anxious than ever, and I found myself yet again crying in my doctor’s office. The more things change, the more they stay the same, am I right? After listening to me vent about my fears and anxieties, along with my excitement, my doctor smiled and said, “I think this relationship, along with your trip, actually will be quite healing for you.” I’m one of those girls whose doctor doubles as her therapist. (I would be embarrassed by that but I’m too busy thinking it’s awesome.)

Along with the feelings of anxiety that are attached to such milestones (turning 30, traveling to Europe, getting married), I was also experiencing all the wonderful feelings that occur as a result of being a part of a loving relationship. While I have loved boys before, I have never been completely and fully in love, nor have I been completely and fully loved in return. Love fascinates me. I grew up thinking it was some sort of fairy tale affair, full of orchestral movements and huge declarations outside bedroom windows in the middle of the night. When I entered my twenties and started experiencing life with the opposite gender, I realized I was wrong. There were no grand gestures meant for me, just a bunch of one-sided feelings and misread signals. I started treating love like Big Foot. Some people had seen it and knew it existed; I just wasn’t one of those people. I wasn’t a member of that club. I spent many nights wondering why I hadn’t been chosen when I wanted it so desperately. I imagine a similar feeling being felt by some dedicated Big Foot truther who spends his life searching for Big Foot only to overhear some woman at a diner say she saw him on a camp out. She wasn’t looking for him, but there he was anyway trying to break into her Ford Focus.

smh even Goofy got to see Big Foot.

It’s been three years since the elusive Big Foot finally revealed himself to me, and in some ways I’m still shocked that it ever happened. I have fallen in love truly and completely, and in some ways it feels just like people said it would. In other ways it has been different, because love is an individual experience, and it will always be a little bit different for everyone. The love I have is different than my parents’ love, or the love my friend has with her husband, or the love that Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd have. Over the course of my marriage, I’ve enjoyed learning more and more about the type of love that my husband and I have. Since I am obviously an expert now (lol), I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned about love, and being in love, because let me tell you, I have learned a lot (I know almost literally nothing, you guys).

LOVE MEANS:

1. Never having to watch Netflix alone. This is a major plus for me, as one of my favorite things to do is force those I love to watch the television I love and then discuss it with me afterward. On my recommendation, my husband and I have watched “30 Rock,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Bob’s Burgers” together. I’m still trying to get him to watch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Felicity” with me, but so far he’s refused. Nobody’s perfect!

2. Never having to sleep alone. I actually thought I would hate this part of being married, because I slept alone in a big bed for so many years, but it’s actually one of my favorite parts. Occasionally I fall asleep on my husband’s chest, rolling off somewhere around midnight, and then back on again around 3 am when I wake up and realize he’s on the opposite end of the bed from me. I am a very annoying person who wonders if she did something wrong because her husband drifts during sleep. One of my favorite middle-of-the-night moments happened a couple months after I got married, during a particularly hot evening. My husband and I woke up on opposite sides of the bed, covered in sweat, our duvet in a pile at the foot of the bed. He pulled me towards him to claim my usual space on his chest, realized immediately that it was far too hot to be touching that much, and muttered groggily, “Let’s just hold hands.” And that’s what we did. So cheesy! The majority of people that I talk to seem to not like to be touched during sleep, so I realize I’m in the minority here—this is what I mean when I say everybody’s love is different!

3. Not being able to run your A/C as much as you want to because it costs too much money and you are a poor newlywed couple. Please see previous story about being soaking wet in the middle of the night. This is the cost of love, people—and it is steep.

4. Never having to fill your car up with gas. Did you know your significant other/life partner will do this for you?? Is this the biggest perk to having a significant other? I can’t say. But yes.

5. Your family doubles in size. Really, you get to just inherit his family and friends! They are legally obligated to love and cherish you and shower you with compliments! Just kidding. They aren’t obligated, but most of them love you anyway. Isn’t that great?

6. Spending a lot more money on food. Why? Because it is fun to go to restaurants with your boo.

7. You get to flip the arm rest up at the movies. Seriously though, how long have you been waiting to do that—for something other than napping at the movie theater or storing extra treats, I mean?

8. Being excited to come home at the end of the day. Walking through my door at the end of the day is pretty much like walking through the gates of Disneyland. I just need to find a way to make hand-dipped corn dogs and Mickey pretzels in my kitchen, and I’d be set for life.

9. Feeling safe even when something scary is happening. I’ve been through lots of scary things with my husband. Rain storms, horror films, third degree burns, bad acne… Once I went to the ER, and he rubbed my legs for me the entire time I was in there. He holds my hand whenever I have to get blood work done, because it is truly my least favorite activity. Once I thought someone was breaking into our house because I heard a really scary noise, and he went out to inspect—no questions asked. It ended up being nothing, but after that we got some weapons (aka baseball bats) in case it happens again.

10. Your issues are still issues. I’m putting this in here because I know there’s this idea amongst young girls and maybe amongst young men, too, that when somebody loves you, you automatically love yourself, and all your problems and neuroses go away. THIS IS NOT REALITY. I cannot stress that enough. If you are having problems, getting a boyfriend or getting married will not make those problems magically disappear. If anything, it throws those problems under a magnifying glass and makes them appear bigger than ever. I am happily married, but I still have to work hard every day on loving and accepting myself and making myself better. Having someone who loves me unconditionally is my happiest truth, but on some of my darker days, it still isn’t enough to shake me out of it. The great thing is that I don’t have to face my dark thoughts alone anymore.

There was a long period of time in my adult life where I thought I would never find anyone to share my life with. I really thought I would have to die to find the love of my life on the other side, and I had resolved myself to being “just” the good friend and the cool aunt. I was okay with that for the most part. I made a good single life for myself—surrounded by good friends and family. I know some of you are single, and you might think nothing in this article applies to you, but this part does: Your romantic relationships do not define who you are or what you’re worth. Life is about so much more than how many boyfriends you’ve had or how many people you have kissed. Though I do think love is life’s greatest blessing, I don’t think it has to be romantic love. Love can be found anywhere. For some people, it’s a rainy day, a good book, a road trip, or your favorite song. Love is in the earth, in the trees and mountains, and in the oceans. It’s in every flower, every bite of pizza, every late-night drive. It’s in the subtle quiet moments and in the darkest, loudest, busiest days. It’s all around us, really. And it belongs to everyone. How cool is that? It’s pretty much the best thing that I know. Even better than seeing Big Foot.

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