Last week on Twitter, a friend posted the question, “What will you tell your children about love/marriage/sex/passion that wasn’t told to you?”
It didn’t take long for me to start tweeting out my list. I had been pondering that question on and off for a while during the past year or so because of the lessons I was just learning at 27 years old. So many lessons came to me just from being honest with myself about who I am, observing how I behaved in romantic relationships, observing other people’s romantic relationships – both healthy and dysfunctional – and having open conversations about ideals when it comes to love and marriage.
1. Love is beautiful but it’s work
Too often we allow young people to believe that love is an effortless cakewalk. I’ve found this to be very untrue. There will be days when you are aggravated, annoyed, infuriated and displeased by your significant other. There will be days when you are ready to quit. There will be points of adjustment to their quirks and schedule and lifestyle. Love is the overcoming factor in those moments. Love is the choice between going to bed angry and intentionally returning a text or phone call six hours later because you’re mad OR being mature, and having a conversation to hash things out as soon as possible. Love takes work but it grows the beauty of the relationship exponentially. So if you’re not strong and selfless enough to work in love, don’t waste anybody’s time falling in love. Simple.
2. Love takes TIME
Regardless if you’re just meeting someone new or you’re becoming reacquainted with someone – give it time. If they aren’t willing to take their time too, they don’t really want you – they just want a warm body. Time reveals so many things that you will not see if you rush into a relationship with someone because it ‘feels’ good. Pastor Van Moody says, “Too much, too soon, too freely always equals disaster.” Don’t give away valuable pieces of yourself to someone who hasn’t proven worthy of that act of trust. Take the time. Learn who they are in any situation. Walk it out. Don’t run. It’s not a race.
3. It’s not all about you
I think many of us have to re-evaluate why we want to be married. If it’s because it’s what society says we should want or because we want a beautiful ceremony and reception, then we’ve missed the point. Marriage is give and take. Marriage should be building a life with someone who can lift you up to your highest self and vice versa. If you want someone to wait on you, hand and foot, you want a slave, not a mate. Be clear. And if you don’t desire to give as well as receive, marriage is probably not the best option for you.
4. Passion is the match and love/dedication keep the fire going
My generation will throw each other away in a hot second. We test each other out and at the first sign that we might get bored, we walk away to find someone new. Passion fades that way if love isn’t there to keep it going. If there isn’t a love and deep respect for the person (which is built OVER TIME) we’ll base the whole relationship on the instability of passion alone.
5. If you wouldn’t be proud to have a son/daughter JUST EXACTLY like them, why sleep with them?
Pretty self-explanatory, no?
6. What have they done to prove that they are worthy of such a gift?
We don’t teach our children that their bodies are sacred anymore. They don’t see that message. And while I want my children (especially my daughters) to have agency of their own bodies, I do want them to know that THAT kind of intimacy isn’t to be taken lightly. There is nothing casual about our bodies. Life comes from us. That is sacred and not to be trifled with by a no-count boy/man who does not respect, love and value all of who we are.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I think it’s a great place to start, tweaking it for the appropriate age of course. Especially in this day and age, these kinds of conversations need to happen to cut past the media and societal clutter of what love is supposed to look like. I refuse to allow pop culture to teach my child what love looks like before I do.
La Truly is a writer, college professor and young women’s empowerment enthusiast. She mixes her interest in social and cultural issues with her life experiences to encourage thought, discussion and positive change among young Women of Color. Follow her on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and check out her site: http://www.hersoulinc.com.