It’s wedding season in Chicago, and if that’s not enough to catapult everyone into a love-induced coma, there’s relationships budding all over the place. Whether you refer to them as a “summer fling” or maybe even a “summer romance”, sometimes, love sneakily creeps it’s way into the hearts of Chicagoans until we admit that cupid has indeed struck. We slowly grow used to the rose-colored glasses we’ve begun to look through, and we’re so lovey-dovey that we may have even tested the gag-reflex of our closest friends while they listen to us talk about our gushy, mushy feelings. We find someone special and suddenly, all is right with the world. Oh, the joys of the “honeymoon phase” sure are plentiful, but the word “phase” implies that it will come to an end eventually. So what happens then, and how does a relationship survive life after the honeymoon?
First, it’s important to remember the “rule of firsts”. I may or may not have made this rule up myself, but it’s a rule worth remembering. Everything is most exciting in the beginning. The first day of school, the first day with a new puppy, the first drive in a new car. All those moments are great, as is the first few months in a new relationship. Unfortunately, the rule of firsts states that all exciting firsts lead to not-so-riveting seconds, thirds, and fourths. What a great rule to remember, though I may be biased (insert wink emoticon here).
“Firsts” take us by the hand, make promises of perfection, and ultimately place blinders on us so we don’t see the future ahead that holds (drum roll please…) no more firsts. We dive into the moments of firsts and swim around like the Little Mermaid, singing and splashing in the sea of love, and we act as if we’ll never have to see the shore again. Until we do. When the honeymoon phase is over and we are washed up on the sand, it’s finally time to figure out what we really fell in love with. Was it the special person or the special “firsts”? Spoiler alert: only one of those will get a couple through the not-so-honeymoon-ish phases that follow.
So how does a couple survive life after the honeymoon? Ames from The Bachelorette said that his idea of romance is making ordinary moments extraordinary. I melted upon hearing those words and I think that’s such a great reminder to live by. Take ordinary moments and make them extraordinary. Celebrate the small things in life, because as I’ve said before, sometimes, there are just no big things to be celebrating.
One thing you need to remember about a long relationship that will last a lifetime is that it will not always be perfect. There might be a time (or a lot of times) when you kiss your beloved and there is no sign of fireworks and butterflies don’t flutter around in your stomach like the good ol’ days. There might even come a day when you don’t take the time to kiss at all. That’s completely normal for a long-time relationship, and we all need to be prepared for it. More importantly, be prepared to take the time and make the effort to keep things fresh and exciting for your partner (and for yourself).
When I look at the few couples in my life who’s love has lasted far beyond the honeymoon, I see that it’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always a fairytale. Love is truly a commitment. It shouldn’t be all work and no play, but be ready for your fair share of work. Don’t walk blindly into a commitment without being willing to fight through everything and anything that comes your way. If you are truly in love with someone for all the right reasons, love just might be able to conquer all. In which case, my rule of firsts doesn’t really matter because those not-so-riveting seconds, thirds, fourths all mix together to give you the most beautiful love story of all… the kind that lasts a lifetime.