“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
The decision to love another human being is seldom a conscious one, and falling in love with my husband certainly wasn’t an item on my to-do list.
I didn’t anticipate loving him, didn’t want to have to trust him, and truthfully didn’t even think love could happen for me again.
So when he looked me straight in the eyes that Christmas night and said “I love you,” my life changed forever. That moment began a journey of learning that real love doesn’t look like it does in the movies, and it taught me that God’s love is always redemptive and is always better than Hollywood’s.
When my husband walked into my life, I was a woman deeply wounded. A divorce after ten years of marriage had left me shattered and weak, struggling to understand who I was now and where my life was headed. I believed I was unlovable, knew I was damaged goods, and trusted I’d always be alone. My brokenness was my story, and my sadness was my burden.
Love? It just wasn’t for me.
A happy ending wouldn’t be my story.
But God intervened, as He is prone to do, and He changed the narrative I had written for myself. He gently picked up the broken pieces of my life and rearranged them into a work of art. He crafted beauty from my ashes, and He convinced me that His ways are not my ways.
My God wrote a beautiful love story that might never be shown on the big screen, but it’s one where He gets all the credit. He proved that He works all things for the good of those who love him, even though the story might get messy in the meantime.
And God showed me that true love is better than screenplay love, hands down. Why? Because it’s real. It doesn’t stop when the director yells, “Cut!”
Here’s the truth about a love that’s real, and here’s what Hollywood fails to show:
Love is work.
Every day in a love relationship, there’s a temptation to choose your way over theirs. We are selfish by nature, and we have to work purposely and diligently to keep ourselves from being all that matters. We have to consider their desires, talk when we’d rather shut down, and do things we’d rather not. Love isn’t just fun and games. Sometimes it’s hard work.
Love is rarely about romance.
It’s often about laundry, morning breath, and asking, “What do you want to eat?” Sure, sometimes he brings home roses, and sometimes you cook a candlelit meal. But the emphasis is on sometimes. Often, marriage is about paying the bills, keeping everyone in clean clothes, and running to the grocery story to keep your people fed.
Love requires brutal honesty.
When my husband and I became serious about pursuing a relationship, I had one rule: Honesty, no matter what. Lies and deceit had ruined my first marriage, and I knew I could never be with someone again who wouldn’t tell me the truth. Honesty can hurt and can be hard to take, but a relationship is a facade without it.
Love is a choice.
Sure, in the beginning, romantic love is exciting and fun. Your heart skips a beat when you’re with the one meant for you, and your mind is preoccupied with the thought of being together. But when infatuation ends and the reality of being with someone every day sets in, you have to make some choices. You have to choose them when something else exciting tempts you. You have to choose to believe the best in them when your eyes see only the worst. You have to choose their good over your convenience.
Love brings out the worst in you.
Yes, the worst. It’s only when you truly know someone that you begin to be yourself, and it’s only when you love someone that you stop pretending to be what you aren’t. My husband is the one who hears my unfiltered thoughts. He is the one who sees me when I’m sick, hears me when I’m hateful, and knows me like no one else. He knows the worst about me that I hide from everyone else. The one you love is the one who knows who you really are.
Is my husband perfect? Far from it.
Is he everything I always need? Of course not.
But he is the partner perfectly designed to complement me. We are opposites in nearly every way, but our differences make us better. Our struggles make us stronger. Our fights increase our faith.
Marriage in the real world is rarely like a romantic comedy. But it’s always an opportunity to see God at work.