Love…..It’s a many splendored thing…a battlefield…and it don’t cost a thing. Whether you’re wondering where is the love, or this love has taken a toll on you, it seems like everyone has something to say about the world’s favorite four letter word, and honestly, I wish everyone would keep their mouth shut.

The media is love struck, and frankly, they don’t know what real love is. As a result, neither do we. We end up entering relationships with false expectations. We keep waiting around for the idyllic situations, scripted dialogue, and picture perfect evening…..and they never come. When our relationships and partners fail to measure up, we become frustrated, judgmental, and insecure. We wonder why we can’t have “real” love.

After the glow of the “honeymoon phase” of my marriage was over, the pretenses had dropped, and we were no longer on our best behavior, I began to wait….I would look at my husband and wonder when it was coming…When was he going to dance down the bleachers singing to me? Why had a rainstorm never interrupted our romantic outdoor dancing? And speaking of dancing, why had we never practiced a lift in a creek? I wasn’t waiting for my husband…I was waiting for Hollywood…..for the ideal…for the pretend version of ourselves we project during courtship.

Instead of focusing on the things that made my husband truly great….the things that are intrinsic to who he is as a person,the values he possessed, and the choices he made, I was sitting around waiting for the illusion….the Hollywood magic….the moonlight kisses, candlelit dinners, and long talks about our feelings. I had a list of expectations, and by gosh, he’d better meet them. I was anticipating that our relationship would stay the way it was while we were dating….Everything was new and fresh. We went out of our way to do the little things…flowers, notes, surprise visits, late night talks, etc. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong….On tv, the relationships were magical….Elaborate dates were planned all the time, couples never lost interest in romance, and men always wanted to talk.My relationship was not living up to my expectations.

I remember an episode of Friends right after Monica and Chandler had gotten engaged. Monica was lamenting that she would never again have a first kiss…that spark…the rush of excitement…She was worried because the magic seemed to be gone. And despite Phoebe’s ever so quirky way of trying to cheer her up by telling her she’d have a “last kiss,” it took a bit of convincing to truly make her feel better. I think sometimes we allow fear and doubt to invade our relationship when we feel as though the “magic” is gone. We aren’t staying up all night talking. He doesn’t bring you flowers anymore. Making out is no longer an activity (sorry Mom and Dad). Something must be wrong….right?

What the media fails to remind all of us, is that love is NOT the fairy tale feeling, the magical moments, and the picture perfect evenings. Sure, those things can (and should) happen from time to time. But, as my mom used to tell me when I was little, “Everyday can’t be Disneyland.” Expecting our day to day relationship to be a scene straight out of the movies is ridiculous. When we place unrealistic expectations on our partners and our relationships, we are setting them up to fail. What we are forgetting, is that love is a CHOICE, and one that needs to be made daily (sometimes more often than that.)

Love is a conscious decision….an action. It’s choosing THEM, instead of YOU. It’s giving more than you have to give, and then giving some more. It’s going beyond your capacity, even when you don’t want to. Let’s face it. We aren’t going to want to love our partner everyday. They aren’t lovable everyday…and neither are we. Love, although often depicted that way, is NOT disposable. We don’t get to bail every time we have an argument….every time our expectations aren’t met….We wake up every morning and CHOOSE to love. And, not for who we want the person in our life to be….we love them for who they are now.

We shouldn’t mourn the loss of the “magic.” Sure, first kisses, first dates, the first few months of any relationship are special…fun..exciting…BUT, so is the mature relationship….The day to day everyday life is special too. You may have traded in late night talks on the phone for late night feedings. Your idea of a night out may be a trip through the drive-thru and a shopping trip minus the kids. You may barely have the energy to do more than catch up on American Idol on the couch. But, you have each other….for better, for worse…you have each other. Marriage is a deeper, more intimate relationship than any initial courtship you may have experienced. It’s a partnership….a friendship that can run deeper than anything you have ever known…someone who knows you better than you know yourself…So, CHOOSE.

Choose to stop expecting, and start accepting. Choose to LOVE.