The great thing about metaphors is that they can mean whatever you mean them to. “Undiscovered country” for example, comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a play that made a big impression on me in high school. “Undiscovered country” is a metaphor Hamlet uses to allude to death. And yet, I can see so many other uses for that metaphor that are totally unrelated to death or dark subject matter.
I think that love is very much like an undiscovered country. You don’t know how it’ll look but you’ll know it once you find it.
It’s paradise if you find the right person.
Now that I’ve been married a full year and have a lot more life experience behind me, I find that my feelings and thoughts about love and marriage are different.
Looking for the kind of Love that Lasts
In 2008 a movie called The Edge of Love was coming out. I was 18 going on 19 and it just so happened that I met my husband for the first time soon after the film came out. It’s a film about the poet Dylan Thomas. I was caught up by the voice over in the trailer that spoke this cryptic line:
“First love is alright, as far as it goes. Last love – that’s the one I’m interested in.”
At first I thought it was “Vast love” but I found out it was written as “Last love.” I very much think I felt this way, on an unconscious level, that I was uninterested in going through a series of people in order to find the love of my life. This is probably common in people that don’t want to get hurt, or perfectionists who want a home run when it comes to the quest for “the one.” Perhaps our notions about love and how we approach relationships has a lot to do with storytelling. Love is probably one of, if not the most popular subject in storytelling. Storytelling has very much shaped cultures and societies for centuries. The way we think and feel is something that we have control over, but in our formative years I think we get bestowed some fundamental things that we still carry within us that came from the stories we learned. Sometimes these are destructive ideas but most are well intentioned and beautiful.
I was lucky to have found a love that lasts so early in life. That sounds over confident because it is. I love my husband very much. The way I feel about him is something that is different from those little crushes we have starting in kindergarten. I don’t think I ever had a first love until I let myself explore what was possible with my husband.
Let your partner in.
I won’t claim that I’m a love guru but I do know that I became happier as a person once I stopped being so shy and started letting more people into my inner world. I think as women, we think that we have to be perfect or something close to it in order to be loved. Like how a magician never reveals his trick, we get these subtle messages that we need to hide our imperfections or else we wont be able to hold on to a man. Early on I took these messages and I threw them out the proverbial window. I saw love, marriage, and the whole concept of someone to share my life with as not as important as being happy on my own and feeling fulfillment in my endeavors.
I was fine never getting married. I thought, “oh I’ll have lovers around the globe and I’ll be an amazing godmother and aunt to my friends’ children, and I’ll be a successful whatever, respected by my peers, citizen of the world and give everything away to charities when I die.” Strange, but it was healthier than what I was seeing going on in the minds of other young women my age.
When you’re afraid you don’t let your partner in on what you are thinking, feeling, or what’s wrong and what you need and want. I think a lot of heartbreak and damage could have been avoided for couples who divorced if they had let each other in more before getting married. The more you know your partner, inside and out, good and bad, your marriage will be happier. Don’t beat around the bush, quit being mysterious, and let your partner inside.
Be there to help each other, but you complete yourself.
None of us are perfect, but to say that you are nothing without your partner is not a good sign. There are people who are divorced who experience the same kind of pain from loss as that of the death of a partner. The thing is, you need to remember that you complete yourself. If you can’t, then you need to find out why not. Being with someone won’t fix you, and it’s too much pressure to put on your partner to do it. You have to figure out how to make yourself happy and be ok being on your own. Come into marriage not looking be completed by your partner.
It’s about joining forces and having fun
Marriage is really about two complete people deciding that they can’t imagine having more fun with any other person as much as they do together. Marriage should be fun, it should bring out the best in both partners. We feel like we can get through anything together. It is said that family is the most important thing because family will always be there for you. Well, that isn’t always true. The truly remarkable thing is finding someone who will be there for you no matter what. It’s a dog-eat-dog world but it feels less that way because I found someone who knows how to instantly cheer me up when something tries to bring me down. I feel like I’ve been more productive, more focused, and lighter in spirit as a married lady. I know that I have a lot to do with that, but I have to give my husband credit because he truly brings the best out of me and he’s the dearest person. He’s terribly funny too.
We celebrated our one year anniversary on the same ship we were married on last year. This time we sailed the Western Caribbean and met a couple that recently got engaged. We saw pieces of ourselves in them, remembering what it was like being engaged and wondering about married life. Marriage can be smooth sailing, and for a long time it’s just you sailing the seas of life like Christopher Columbus, searching for the “undiscovered country,” the love of your life. It feels like I married my best friend, if only that were the story we were told growing up. That you should marry your best friend. The gulf between men and women is less wide than it used to be. Although they say women are from Venus and men from Mars, I think Earth is the perfect place to live for both sides.