marriage

Five things I learnt about love

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I spent more time thinking about love than probably Elizabeth Darcy (née Bennet). At the age of 6 I engaged myself to a boy named M. without him being aware of that. I would take him by the arm to show my classmates we were close and I would leave messages in his duffle coat pockets every single day. He was shy and initially complacent but after a while, when the other boys in the class started mocking him and he heard about my engagement story, he publicly dumped me with a note his fellow classmates had previously agreed on. It said more or less: “I think our engagement is off. Please stop bothering me”. It was the end of the world.

If this makes a cute childhood story where all the characters can barely read and count to 100, things got a little bitter later on. I was determined to find the love of my life but I didn’t have the slightest clue on the following points:

1. How to find him

2. How to recognize him, admit I would actually cross him at some point

3. How to get to know him and to look interesting

4. How to make him fall in love with me

I thought falling in love was the necessary and sufficient condition for anything else. And so love I pursued. For YEARS!

It hasn’t been bad. Looking back now, I wish I had more fun on my way to perfect love. I wish I took myself less seriously and were able to laugh more. But, you know, I have now made peace with my limits. There’re a few things, though, that seem now so normal and that I wasn’t so sure about then. And they would have saved some tears and some end-of-the-world drama.

  1. Give guys the thrill of the chase

Risking to sound as old-fashioned as the Dowager Countess of Grantham I really have to warn any good-willed young lady out there. Please, don’t play the conqueress. It may seem to you that the pale, skinny, smart boy you spotted the other day at the workshop is too shy to ask you out. Don’t help him. There’re not really shy guys. Not so shy they can’t ask a girl out. They can be goofy, or embarassed. They may even flush when looking at you. But there’re no interested guys that won’t go great lenghts to propose something. Anything. A cup of coffee, a movie, a walk. Even time sitting together in a library. Studying.

Of course, there’re tons of women who decided on marrying a man and eventually did. They imposed themselves and got their way. You just have to be fine with the idea that in future quarrels you will always be the one that forced him into the relationship. I always found that annoying.

2. Forget everything you’ve read and/or watched about love and marriage

Do you know the all-consuming love we all hope to live at least once in our life? The kind of love that makes you lose 10 pounds in a week, sleep 2 hours per night, feel every heartbeat as it was the last one and yet look gorgeous and young and bright? Well, let’s hope you never marry that guy. Because that is not love: it’s passion, madness, desire, a total eclypse of the heart brain.The minute you start doing the laundry or scrubbing the bathroom sink or – even worse – the minute you have a child together and experience the Guantanamo year(s) (sleep deprivation + house confinement + falling asleep by exhaustion on floors or sofas or wooden chairs) you will need more than butterflies in your stomach, breathtaking sex or cosmic connection. You will need a good laugh, then. Believe me.

Passion is a thing. A crazy, sublime, unforgettable, necessary thing we need to live at some point in our lives. Even more than once. It’s great. But married love is another thing. And it’s more precious, and rare, and longer lasting. It’s the kind of love that comes with time and it’s made of time spent together, intimate knowledge of each other families and friends and secrets. Yesterday I watched with the boys the video of my wedding day. I barely knew my husband then and yet I had this huge smile stamped on my face the whole time. I was crazy. And lucky. Because I had no idea of what life was going to be made of. I couldn’t think much further of having breakfast together or travelling or having friends over for dinner and watching films. I didn’t know that real life is made also of less glamorous things: losing one’s parents, battling illnesses, caring for other people, spending hideous Christmases with families who’re not yours and whom you don’t even feel connected to, having children and wanting to kill your husband because he is looks useless and you need so much a shower and a 7-hours uninterrupted night.

3. If he gives you goosebumps, then check that he can laugh as well

I loved bad guys. Complicated, smart, dark characters. Ideally with a troubled past. It looked SO sexy to me. No wonder I am crazy now about Damian Lewis/Nicholas Brody and Homeland. But I bet the moment I’d start cooking Congressman Brody his dinner or waking up with a migraine in his bed, I’d love him to be able to just laugh.

4. Find the one that likes/loves you just as you are

We all loved Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary for that. Remember? He liked her just as she was. It may seem obvious but it is not. I have overweight friends that go out with guys who publicly declare that they despise overweight women and that their beauty ideal is Kate Moss. Now, if you like Kate Moss, then you don’t go out with Nigella Lawson. Or, if you do, you don’t ever say that she should lose weight because you prefer the skinny, androgynous type. Ditch that kind of partner. If he doesn’t like you as you are, than he’s not worthy of your attention.

5. Never give up on love

I have friends who panicked around their 30s and got married. To someone they were used to but that they didn’t admire, or trust, or actually love. They thought at least they would have a life, kids, holidays. A past. There is nothing worse than a marriage you don’t believe in. Don’t let age trick you into one of these plans. Never give up on love, you will regret it eventually.