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My husband and I are observing our 15th Valentines Day this year. Observing? You may think that’s a weird choice of a word for the most romantic day of the entire calendar. But we have been mere observers of this day sans the first year of our union or so just because of our mutual loathing for hyped up prices. So yes, I found my soul scrooge. My husband used to get me chocolates, flowers and a surprise gift or two on days other than February the 14th. Now he knows me better, skips the flowers and brings home ice cream. And for that, I love him more.

Looking back I realize, keeping up the early stages of a romantic relationship is a constant battle of the mind. His vs hers. It’s figuring out each other’s personalities, characters, preferences and choices to arrive at a comfortable level of compromise in a way both parties concerned do not feel taken for granted. It is learning to adjust. It is learning to fight for what’s yours and at the same time learning to let go with grace. It is understanding when to raise your voice and when to maintain silence. It is listening to what is being said and it is also reading between the lines. It is doing the hard thing and choosing to forgive when you could have taken the easy way out and just forgotten, It is putting someone else before you and also it is not losing yourself. Love is walking that fine line between madness and reality. You might be thinking that it looks like a lot of work. But that’s why they say you “build” a relationship. You can’t just buy a ready-made relationship and move in. it takes time, understanding, experiences and patience to make things work. Lots and lots of patience.

But is it worth going into all that trouble just to have someone in your life? If the person you decided to go through all this trouble is willing to go through it with you, then it is the best thing that can happen to you. Leaving aside the physical side of a relationship which is equally important, it is an inexplicable feeling to have someone that you can totally and utterly depend on. It is exhilarating as well as frightening to have someone who knows you inside out. It is comforting to have someone who will make decisions with you without any selfish ulterior motive and someone with whom you can raise your offspring with. As you age, having someone to share life in a comfortable state of predictability even during times of excitement literally gives meaning to the phrase two hearts beating as one. And it is pure contentment finding your person.      

Many of us are conditioned from an early age to believe in love at first sight or that true love is all about sacrificing your life for the one you love. It is how love is portrayed from fairy tales to the media. When young and in love, we are more in love with the idea of how love should be than the person we are in love with. We go all in, romanticizing the notion of what a relationship should be; all sunshine and rainbows without a dark cloud in sight. We think that if we love a person enough our love will shine through all life’s problems like the sun bursting through darkness dispersing all shadows. Just like in the movies. We argue that love should be effortless. We think that falling in love just happens overnight. Movies tell us that love is meeting each other’s eyes across a crowded room and knowing he is the one. They make us believe in selflessly forgiving a person over and over again because we “love them”, never for once showing that behind the scenes we lose ourselves and everything we hold dear to this so-called notion of love. We fail to understand that falling in love is a process. A long and often times, painful process. Punctuated with countless heartaches and gallons of tears.

Then what is this elusive thing called love?

As we grow older in physique and mature in our relationship as a couple, I have begun to understand and define love as something beyond chocolates, roses and that tingling feeling. After many years, three kids, countless pets (mostly of the dead kind), insecurities, moving houses, family issues (his and mine), job changes, financial trouble, life-threatening sicknesses and long distance relationships I can safely say we have been through enough to break us up if we had chosen to do so. For me, love is friendship, it is teamwork and it is patience, kindness and understanding. Love is compromise. As life throws curve balls at us, love is turning to each other, rather than turning on each other. It is protecting secrets and keeping the trust. It is discussing as well as arguing. It is staying up and fighting. It is making up with sincerity and passion. Love for me is doing little things with lots of effort and paying attention to detail. It is showing that you care enough to take the plunge and do things beyond your boundaries. Love is going the extra mile.

To those taking the first steps of a relationship, I tell you, don’t rush. If he is the one, you have a  lifetime together. Take it slow. Take time to understand and take the time to build your love. And those who have been unlucky in love, know that there is no such thing as luck. All you went through was an experience. Take your lesson and move on. At the end of the day for me love is, looking over at my husband and feeling content. Knowing he has my back, just as I have his. Of feeling at peace knowing that we have built something strong and beautiful for our kids to enjoy its shade. I wish you all nothing but love <3     

Akeela Mariff Fayaz
Author: Akeela Mariff Fayaz

Akeela Mariff Fayaz is a writer by profession. She is a full-time mom of a son aged 7 and daughter aged 2. Prior to motherhood, she was a financial journalist, feature writer, book reviewer, and a web content writer specializing in SEO. Many moons ago while she was putting the nappies up on the line to dry, she realized she missed writing and started writing again as a freelancer.

She has always loved words. Growing up, her constant companions were books. She was always fascinated that so much could be said by combining just a few letters. And as a teenager, while she continued to talk the ears off people, she started writing too. Writing to her is therapy. She vents her frustrations, raises her voice, appreciates and values what she has, deals with her losses, reminisces, ponders, dreams and builds hope, all through the written word.

Her ultimate goal when it comes to writing is to be a published author. If she were to write a book, about the author it would read, Akeela lives in a house by the sea, with her husband, son, daughter, four fish, and a hen. She is a jack of all trades and a master of a few. She adores thoughtful people, loves a good cheesecake and forgives but doesn’t forget. When she is not writing, reading or disturbing her neighbours with her singing, she loves to cook, make sand castles and go for power walks.

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