I've had love on the brain lately, and not just because it was Valentine's Day last week. Mostly because I jumped from watching the "Twilight" series (and you know how romantic I think those are) to watching old Disney movies with my kids. And what have I learned?
Cinderella taught me that all it takes to fall in love is one dance.
Sleeping Beauty one-upped the dance = insta-love equation with the added bonus of teaching parents it is better to withhold information and hide their children from the world than to tell their kids what dangerous things are out there and how they can avoid them.
Last, but not least, The Little Mermaid taught me that adolescent crushes are worth giving up one's soul in order to pursue. Also, being disobedient to your parents is cool and always works out in the end. (Plus, if I ever become Queen of the Universe, I know it is better to sacrifice everyone in my entire kingdom than to let my daughter suffer the consequences of her stupidity).
Don't get me wrong, I like fairy tales as much as the next girl, but how is that that "Happily Ever After" always consists of meet, greet, and ride off into the sunset together? (Or in Ariel's case, see cute boy, lose your ever-lovin' mind, and sign away your soul for a chance to play Chase the Prince).
Why is love consistently portrayed as something that just happens instead of something that is the result of careful and consistent cultivation?
In a world of confusing ideas about love, I think this is one of the most damaging; that love exists independent of personal responsibility and action; that it's just a lightning bolt that strikes and once the fire has gone out, it's over, without chance of recovery. How many people have divorced their spouses because they are no longer "in love" without realizing love is something you do, not something you feel?
This is why I love the example laid out in "Fiddler on the Roof." After 25 years in an arranged marriage, Tevye wants to know if his wife, Golde, loves him. At first she tries to avoid his questioning by listing all the things she has done for him over the years. But, as he persists, she allows herself to internalize the question, again being brought back to all the things she has done for him: "For twenty-five years I've lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that's not love, what is?"
What is love if not action? If not service and kindness and working together?
Once you do, you feel.
So if you are not "in love" with your spouse, get back in love.
Go. And do.