Is love enough to keep a partnership or marriage together? Are you in a relationship right now with someone you love yet you are considering ending it? Do you sometimes wonder if you’d be happier leaving your current partner?
One of the reasons Steve and I hung on to our marriage for so long, before we decided to separate, was that we truly loved each other. And every time we would discuss whether we should end our marriage, we kept asking if the love was still there. And every time, the answer was yes, the love was there. So we would conclude that we should stay together and try to work on our issues because “love conquers all.” We held the belief if we loved each other we could overcome our incompatibilities. In October of 2009, we finally challenged that belief and realized that sometimes love just ain’t enough.
Loving your partner is an important component to a strong and healthy relationship, but it is possible to love someone ardently yet still not be happy in a romantic relationship with him or her. It took Steve and I years to realize that you can’t build a long-lasting relationship on love alone.
Steve and I met when we were in our early 20’s at a time when our compatibility was super high. We loved doing all the same things, had similar values, plans, and goals. We were very attracted to each other physically, psychologically, and emotionally. We fit together like two puzzle pieces. We built a life with each other, got married, and had kids. Then we built two successful online businesses following our passions and purpose. On paper, we seemed to have it all. But something wasn’t right in our marriage.
Over the years we both grew, but we started to grow in slightly different directions. At first it was no big deal. For example, Steve really wanted to spend a lot of time traveling and I didn’t but we lacked the funds to travel anyway so it hardly ever came up. Likewise, I really wanted to be a mom, but Steve wasn’t that into the idea of being a father. So when we had our first child I elected to be the primary caregiver and we were both fine with that. I loved family and routine. Steve liked adventure and trying new things.
Over the years our lifestyle incompatibilities became more of an issue. Steve likes his house to be totally pristine and tidy and the kids and I couldn’t keep up with his borderline OCD. Steve wanted to spend half the year traveling and I wanted to provide our children with stability and routine. I wanted to spend more time with extended family and he wanted no part of holidays or family festivities. So we would talk and talk and discuss and try to compromise. But when we would compromise it meant neither of us were truly getting what we wanted out of life.
In the end, we decided that love just wasn’t enough to hold a marriage together. We always held each other in high regard, were always supportive of each other’s goals and passions, and always there for each other to provide support. We didn’t want to lose any of that, but the marriage had to go.
We very consciously decided not to hold each other back any longer, so we ended the marriage and freed ourselves to pursue the lifestyle we wanted. Ending the marriage didn’t kill the relationship, it transformed it. Steve and I are still close friends, and we still love and support each other, but now we each have the freedom to pursue the life we want.
If you are in love and your relationship totally serves your happiness, that’s awesome! But if you are no longer happy in your relationship, if you can no longer have the life you dreamed of having, then consider that staying together is not worth it. In the end, you must be more committed to your own joy than to a partnership that is causing you to give up your joy in life. I know that in our society there is a lot of peer pressure to stay together, especially if you have children. But I don’t think that constantly compromising your joy is a good example to set for our children.
You deserve to have the life you want, the life that brings you joy. If you can’t create a life of joy inside a relationship with a partner you love, then you are compromising your God-given right to happiness. Transform the relationship if you can, or end it.
So ask yourself. Are you in a relationship with a partner you love, but you’re still not happy with your life? Do you have to compromise too much to maintain the relationship?
In the end it’s a choice. I do believe that love is a necessary component to the success of a long term partnership. But sometimes… love just ain’t enough.