Love is hard. True love is hard work. Why is love so hard? Do you know how to find real love?
Why Real Love is Hard Work
My husband and I have been together for more than two decades, more than half of our lifetimes. We were teenagers, kids really, when we decided to give this whole life thing a go together. We have been through our major adult experiences together: college, careers, 10+ years of marriage, kids…
To some, it may seem like we’ve always had it together, like love comes easy to us.
But let me tell you, love, real love, is hard. It takes hard work and dedication, a full commitment to a relationship.
A TON of work and dedication.
Real, true love isn’t a feeling, like the butterflies you feel when you have your first crush or like the red hearts plastered everywhere on Valentine’s Day. Sure, those things are a necessary part of life, but they’re not the kind of love I’m referring to.
Real love is an action, a choice made every second of every day to put someone else before yourself.Real love is an action, a choice made every second of every day to put someone else before yourself.
As human beings, that is a tough thing to do. Even tougher is finding someone else who would do the same for you, as in the case of a wife and husband or even parents and children.
And then, add in the stresses of life: jobs, children, bills, health, etc. How are we supposed to live if we have so much going on?
It’s no wonder that so many relationships end these days! We have so many stresses to worry about and navigate through, but then we also have to work at love?
I can promise you, finding real love and working really hard at it is worth it.
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What is Real Love?
My favorite description of what real love is comes in the all-famous love Bible passage found in 1 Corinthians 13.
Do you remember it? I’m sure you have at least heard it at one wedding or have seen it on a poster somewhere.
What I like about them is that even if you aren’t a deeply religious person, they are still great human qualities to aspire to.
It’s fine to know the verses and even recite them, but look here how they relate to relationships:
Love is patient, even if you’ve had to repeat yourself several times and they still seem not to hear you. It graciously gives another chance, even when several chances have been given.
Love is kind, even if you’re angry and want to say something hurtful. It holds in any spitefulness and waits until it is cooled down to speak again. It offers a helping hand when someone is in need and speaks kindly even to those who aren’t showing kindness themselves.
Love doesn’t want what it can’t or shouldn’t have, but is grateful for what it does have: a home, a job, a family, food, life. It doesn’t seek out anything that will have a detrimental effect on its life or the life of others but only seeks out what will benefit a relationship as a whole.
Love doesn’t brag about what you do have, making others feel poorly about themselves. It shares the good things in life with those that don’t have any.
Love is not arrogant, knowing when it’s time to give others a chance and to follow their lead. It is knowing when to admit you’re wrong and saying you’re sorry.
Love is not rude, yet is courteous and polite, even in stressful situations. It doesn’t demand things from others but politely speaks.
Love doesn’t insist on its own way, but instead listens and works together toward a common goal.
Love doesn’t get irritable, letting every little thing become an annoyance or nitpicking away at shortcomings.
Love doesn’t hold onto wrongdoings, bringing them into arguments at a later time or constantly bringing them up. It forgives, knowing that everyone has faults.
Love doesn’t take pleasure in knowing that someone has inadequacies or has made mistakes. It doesn’t broadcast these mistakes to others. It recognizes that everyone makes mistakes and has shortcomings, and apologizes when necessary.
Love is content with the truth, even if it’s not what we want to hear but need to hear for our own good.
Love offers protection from the storms of life, offering support whenever needed.
Love believes in others, trusting the good in people, even when they can’t see it for themselves.
Love doesn’t lose faith in others, even if have a whole lot of obvious shortcomings.
Love looks beyond the circumstances of the present to the hope of what might be in the future. It sees beyond trials and tribulations, knowing that there may be better things on the other side of the storm.
Love never ends. Why? Because it is an action that needs to be done all day every day. It’s not a one and done kind of a deal.
Whoa. After just writing all of that, I realize how much work I still have to do! How do you feel after reading it? Do you still feel that real love is hard work?
What is the Key to Experiencing Real Love?
The key to experiencing real love is that BOTH people need to work hard at all the attributes of real love.
When both people make real love a priority in a relationship, the relationship itself benefits. It’s a mutual giving of oneself that helps the other person strive to be better themselves, and this back and forth has the potential to help love grow and in turn be an example to others of how real love works.
Think about a couple who seems to be an inspiration to others. Every hear of someone say how they want a relationship like their grandparents or friends? How do those people show their love?
Even better, sit down with a couple whom you admire and ask them how they make their relationship work. I think you’d be surprised to hear of all the times things didn’t work out even though they still seem to be in love. He snores too much, she spends too much money, he makes a mess in the kitchen, she takes too much time in the bathroom….
So what’s the catch? Chances are, you’ll come to find out they both put in the time and effort to work past all of those inadequacies together, choosing to look past them or find a way to work around them so that the relationship would flourish.
Should We Just Put Ourselves on the Back Burner?
If real love means putting someone else before yourself and your own feelings, does it mean we should put ourselves on the back burner all the time?
As parents, we often talk about just having time to ourselves or alone time to take care of ourselves. Even as spouses we sometimes crave some time to just do something for ourselves.
But does ‘real love’ as discussed above allow for taking care of yourself?
Yes, it does!
You know how on a plane they’ll tell you to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others? The same concept applies in life.
In order for you to be able to put others before yourself, you need to be sure that you are in a good place and you have the strength, physical or mental, to show love.
It is totally normal to need to step away for a minute to reboot and recharge, even when you are in a loving relationship. Sometimes that means taking some time to do something for yourself, whether it be 5 minutes alone in your room to read or a whole day away to reboot.
And don’t forget, with real love, everything is a balance. When one person needs to step back, the other steps in. When one person needs a word of encouragement, the other is there giving that encouragement.In order for you to be able to put others before yourself, you need to be sure that you are in a good place and you have the strength, physical or mental, to show love.
If both people are working hard to keep that balance, you’ll find that you might not be on the back burner as much as you thought.
If you feel though like your needs and wants have been pushed back too much, then it’s time for a discussion to bring back the balance. We’re only human after all, sometimes blind to how others are feeling. Talking about it with each other brings forward what has been missed and you can work toward a solution together.
So, How Do We Find Real Love?
I can honestly say that I have no idea how to explain how to do this. I mean, so many people find real love in so many different ways!
I mean, my husband and I met and started dating in high school. I was in 10th grade and he was a Senior. Did we know we’d be together this long? I can’t say that we did!
There is one way to perhaps find out if a relationship is based on real love, though.
I remember reading a while ago about a mother who suggested to her daughter to put her boyfriend’s name in the place of the word ‘love’ in 1 Corinthians 13. The daughter did so and saw that maybe the relationship wasn’t meant to be.
This could be done with anyone, but I even suggest that you do so with your own name.
Why? It takes two willing people to make real love work. You need to be able to meet the criteria just as much as your significant other.
Of course, it won’t be true for everyone every time, since none of us are perfect, but it’s a good starting point to see the characteristics you may need to work on or that you can work on together.
Love is Worth It
Working hard toward real love is totally worth it. Trust me on this one. I wouldn’t have taken so much time to write about it if I didn’t think it was worth it!
Start with yourself, and work from there. It’ll take time and effort, but you can do it.
Share the Love
Guess what? All of this can apply to non-romantic relationships as well!
By showing patience, kindness, protection, a willingness to listen, a willingness to forgive, etc., we can share the love with everyone. Just imagine how awesome our world would be if we all applied the characteristics of real love with family, our kids, friends, even strangers, all the time!
Love is hard work, but I know we can all do it.
Who can you share real love with today?
What Do You Think?
What do you think? Is real love hard work? Is there anything I missed? How do you work to show your love to others?
Leave me a comment below!
Also read: How You Can Show Love to Your Kids without Saying the Words
Rachel L. Alba says
Hi Marissa, You did a lot of work on this post. It’s beautiful. A lot of good advise that someone just entering into a marriage might not even think about. Of course, I know you and Aidan and I could tell everything you wrote you wrote from experience.
Uncle Frankie and will be married 48 years this September. You covered just about everything, but I would like to ad “politeness”. Just because you are married and married for a number of years doesn’t mean you could throw politeness out the window. Saying, please, thank you, you’re welcome, how are you this morning, would you like a cup of coffee?” These are just a few polite sayings. We actually do that.
Also, we laugh at each other and ourselves. I asked Uncle Frankie if he thought I looked like I was loosing weight and he gave this ridiculous answer and I laughed so hard, I almost spit my coffee out.
The children will eventually leave the nest, so to speak and you are left with each other. It certainly helps to be nice.
Not that we never argue but we always remember what my father told us, never go to sleep at night angry.
Stephanie Z says
I really appreciate this post. My husband and I read the Bible and work on our marriage daily. It really is a commitment. We have been married for 5 years and going strong.
Thankyou for reminding me what it means to be a loving person. I am getting married at the end of the year and have had nerves, anxiety and doubts. Your message gives real clarity. Like you said man have I got a lot of work to do
Dan, best wishes on your upcoming marriage!
Daily Gospel Vibe says
Hey Melissa..Yoy did a great Job writing this article.. You really opened my eyes to some facts about love and relationships.
Thanks for sharing.
What a great post! So needed this today. Not just for my hubby and me, but also for my kids. I am having a bad day with them and I am yelling and angry. This really helped me realize I need to step away and cool off no matter what. Thank you.
Women today have really changed very much from the old days making love very difficult to find for so many of us single men now unfortunately.
I’m curious to learn how you think women changed and how it correlates to single men finding love.
Well now that so many women are very high maintenance, independent, and really don’t need us men anymore, very greedy, selfish, spoiled, picky, narcissists, gold diggers, since they will only go with much older men that have the very big bank accounts, cheaters, since many women just can’t even commit to only one man anymore either. And that list for these women just keeps increasing too unfortunately. That is why many of us good single men just can’t meet a good woman that will just be able to accept us for who we really are, which is very impossible for them to really do. Going back to the old days, most women weren’t like that at all since they were the very complete opposite of today as well as real ladies too. Very easy to meet a good woman in those days, just like our family members did when they found real true love with one another. Most women and men in fact in those days didn’t hardly have any money either, and they really had no choice since they really did accept each other for who they were as well at that time. Both men and women were struggling just to make ends meat back then, and today women have choices that they never had in those early days. But it is really the women that just can’t accept so many of us single men for who we really are which i did mentioned this already in the beginning of my comment.
Women today aren’t really old fashioned anymore like most women were in the old days. Women are very different today, making love very very hard to find for so many of us single guys now unfortunately.
Alec Heesacker says
You Mean, “Love Never Fails”.
Hi, based on your responses, it seems like you have felt the sting of rejection quite a few times. I’m truly sorry that you haven’t found a mate. Yes, dating these days seems to be very difficult for both men and women. The world today isn’t the same of the world of yesterday. But that’s just it; the world is changing, and people are changing, sometimes not for the better. There are many people, men and women, who have all of the negative characteristics you mention, mostly because these days, everyone is so obsessed with their self life, not in the values of previous generations.
But I assure you, there are women out there who have traditional values and are looking for men with the same values. You just need to look in the right places for them.
One word of caution: you say that women can’t accept ‘single men for who they really are’, and based on your comments I can sense that your approach may not be appealing to some women. (I have to be honest and say that when I first read your words, I was put off, since the blame was placed all on women and not on how men have been treating women all these years. But after rereading, I can sense that you are hurt and sad, which is why I even approved the comment and am responding.) Do you know who you really are as a ‘single man’? What does that mean to you? Are you able to take care of yourself and your home? Do you keep up with your personal hygiene? Do you feel that you function well as an adult and a productive member of society?
I am also getting the feeling that you may not feel totally secure in your financial status, since many of the characteristics you mention about women deal with money. It’s not easy in life trying to keep up with the Jones’, but as I’m sure you know, while money isn’t everything, it’s still necessary to try to have enough to get by. (And these days, post pandemic, geez is it hard sometimes!) If I were a single woman looking for a single man, personally I’d look for someone who was doing all he could to support himself. I’d look for someone who had positive spending habits. I’d look for someone who knew about how to stick to a budget and save for the future. I wouldn’t need someone who was rich, but instead someone who was able to positively support adult life.
Why would I look for those things? Those kinds of things are important when it comes to raising a family. Basic family life is expensive these days. If I’m going to start a family with someone, I’d want to know that the family’s basic needs are taken care of and that the family money won’t be spent on unnecessary items or gambled away.
Before you try looking again for the right woman for you, why not try to see if you emulate the aspects of love that I mention in my blog post? Are you patient? Are you kind? Etc? Give an honest try at meeting those criteria for yourself before expecting others to have the characteristics you are seeking.
I’ll say a prayer for you that you find a real, true, and lasting love.
And there will be times when women will start Cursing at many of us single men for no reason at all, after we will say good morning or hello to them to hopefully get a good conversation going with the one that we think would be nice for us to meet. And i know friends, other single friends that had this happened to them as well, which doesn’t make any sense why these women will act that way with us. A lot of very troubled women out there nowadays unfortunately which really makes it very difficult for many of us men looking for love today, and i would really guess that these women were most likely very abused by men in the past to act this way now with many of us good single men that would really know how to treat a good woman with a lot of love, respect, and commitment.
Hi again, it’s true that many of us women are taught not to fully trust strangers who come up to us in public, especially if they don’t take the hint that we are not comfortable with having a conversation at that time. If you are trying to talk to a woman in public and she seems like she is not interested, it’s best to just move on and not to continue trying to speak with her. (I know myself that I am not comfortable speaking with strangers in public, even more so since I am an introvert.) As for the cursing, it might just be a coping mechanism for a woman to show that she is truly not interested if a man continues to try to talk to her after she has indicated that she is not interested in speaking.
If this method of meeting new people is not working for you, you might want to try something else.
Funny how very easy it use to be finding love in the old days compared to today. That is why our family members really lucked out back then. A very different time it was compared to today. It is just too very bad many of us guys weren’t born back in the past which we would had been all settled down with a family of our own as well. Being single and alone isn’t really fun at all for many of us guys either, but we will never give up since i know other single friends that totally agree with me. Well thank you very much for your support.