the beatles lied

I was watching her microwave a bagel when she said it.  It was one of those moments where your actions make you completely unaware that you’re even having a conversation.  My mouth was moving, and we were most certainly talking, but I wasn’t paying attention to what I was saying.  I couldn’t get past the fact that she was microwaving a bagel.  She wrapped it in a paper towel, frozen, and was not using the defrost setting.  Didn’t she know it would soon become a boot?  I almost didn’t realize I was saying anything at all, until I was jolted back when she said, "Love isn’t always enough."  And I remember looking up at her, blinking.  What?!  It never occurred to me that love couldn’t be enough to make a romantic relationship work.  Everyone loves their parents; even people who hate their parents love their parents. And kids are pretty unconditional. 

I remember this conversation.  I must have been about fourteen, in the kitchen of my best friend’s house, watching the microwave, glancing at the blue KitchenAid mixer covered by a plastic case.  She’s not alive anymore, but I hear her words from time to time.  And now I know what she meant. 

You can love someone, and it cannot work out.  You make the choice to work on it, but it’s not always the case that both people are willing, are able, to work.  As I said in Straight Up and Dirty, you can’t be the one always tossing out the life-preserver trying to save things.  The other person has to want to keep the boat afloat, not always want to bail because it’s easier.  But even when both partners are willing and able to work, sometimes it is a case of love just doesn’t conquer it all.  "All you need is love."  The Beatles are liars.  It’s not that simple. People speak of the amazing powers, how it overcomes, how it’s heroic and sacrificing.  It’s just not everything, not the way it’s made out to be.  You need a lot more than love (and all the things that go along with it) to make a relationship thrive.

I heard once that there were certain factors that contributed to whether or not a couple lasted, happily.  They basically had to agree on the following issues:

1.  Money: how it should be handled, how much to save, sharing the same goals and philosophies about it.

2. Children: wanting them, not wanting them, and how many to have.  Yes, parents argue all the time about how to raise them, and that’s okay, but it might be a deal breaker if one person wants six kids and the other only one.  Circumstances, fertility issues, etc. cannot be helped, and therefore are not included in this category, since there’s nothing to "agree on," aside from wanting to stop or start treatment, consider adoption, etc.

3. Religion: You needn’t share the same religion but must agree on how much religion is in your lives, an arrangement you’re both comfortable with, even if it’s the decision to live without religion in your lives. 

4. Location: City mouse, Country mouse won’t work.  There are people who fall in love with someone who has to move around a lot, and they need to be okay with relocation. 

There are others, of course, you know, priorities and intangibles.  I wonder of which she was speaking when she said "sometimes love isn’t enough."  The everyday life lived between "I love you" moments.  Bills.  Infidelity.  Though, I’m sure it wasn’t something you can simply point to, some item on a list with its own number.  There are deal breakers.  This list is just predictors.  Or at least that’s what an ex of mine told me before asking me to move in with him, arguing, "see, we agree on all these things."  It still didn’t work.



  1. In light of this post, I thought I would pose a question.

    My husband and I have been married almost one year. Before getting married, we dated for 5 years. Of those 5 years, I lived in a city one hour away from him for two years but we saw eachother almost every weekend and it worked fine.

    I am now considering taking a 1 year-1.5 year position with my company in Europe (I live in the US). Because of my husband's job, it's unlikely we would join me across the pond.

    I know you don't know us or how our relationship works, but as outsiders, do you think this is a recipe for disaster?

  2. I couldn't possibly agree more. I tell people this all the time and they always think I'm cynical. Passion and romance are wonderful, but I think common sense and a little planning can ultimately make more difference in the success of a relationship.

  3. My boyfriend and i just broke up and that is the excuse he gave me. He claims he loves me and I love him, but he says it's not enough. He dislikes the way I handle money, I like to spend and I make a decent salary so I think it's okay; He makes a lot of money and is very frugal. I also have kids from a previous relationship and he can't even talk about me giving birth without getting upset; so hence love is not enough.

  4. Stephanie… as always, perfect timing. Thank you.

    I know this sounds ridiculous, but when I read Straight Up and Dirty (currently, for the third time…) I realized that my boyfriend and I have a scary resemblance to you and the Wasband. I deserve better, as much as I want to make it work. He says he loves me, but just can't seem to make me feel loved. And it is so fricking frustrating to be a good communicator, and clearly and communicate my wants and needs, when he just can't seem to get over himself and his insecurities to work on the "us" that remains. Damn the Beatles.

  5. love this post…it's so true. i realized at a pretty young age (19) that love isn't enough. my boyfriend of 6 years and i broke up that summer, and i knew that even though we loved each other, it wasn't enough. he was leaving to another state for an internship, i was going to study abroad and we had never experienced anything other than being together. we decided to break up and although we briefly got back together last year (6 years after the breakup), being with him reiterated that love just is not enough. as much as we have loved each other for the past 12 years, it takes so much more than that for a relationship to work, in my opinion.

    Breanne: this is a tough decision that you and your husband have to make. is it possible at all that he can join you for all, or part of the time you will be away? upon first reading your question i thought to myself, no absolutely not! bad idea! but….if it's a once in a lifetime experience and your husband won't resent you for leaving, and he can visit a lot, why not? it might make your relationship stronger and you will probably grow and learn a lot.

  6. I've been with my boyfriend for almost three years, he has the first man that told me that love wasn't enough to make a relatiship work. That I had to let go of my insecurities and accept the things that I couldn't changed, he has a son who I love very much now.

  7. Love isn't enough. It's an emotion, words sometimes tossed about without thought……… my opinion it's always the actions behind the feelings/words that makes it work or fall apart.

    And Breanne – I most definitely know that I could 100% be in a relationship with someone who was next to me or on the next continent. But I can only speak for myself.

  8. How one expresses love should be added to a list (maybe not the general list that you created, but a sublist, perhaps).
    If someone likes a ton of romance and their mate is not very romantic, it can definitely feel like love is not enough.

    Great post!

  9. I don't know if i agree with you on this one. Well, part of me agrees that sometimes love isn't enough….but enough for who? For the person that gives up when one little thing doesn't go their way, they then are using this depressing phrase as a scapgoat.
    "All you need is love" IS enough, if both parties believe in those words. If you don't agree on money issues, who cares, we love each other enough to look past that. You don't want children, or at least think you don't, and he's hell bent on 4 or 5, that's ok. We love each other enough to keep this great thing going and we'll see what happens and if minds change.
    Now don't go thinking that I agree with partners changing certain things about themselves for each other, but a little compromise, and looking at what is REALLY important can go a long way.
    I'm a tilting a little on the fence over this one, but I think I'm voting for love. Because you can't go living your life and worrying that some day love isn't going to be enough to keep your relationships together, the romantic kind and otherwise. It's just not fair to yourself.

    Ever see the movie "Fever Pitch" with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Falon? PERFECT example, even though yes, I realize it is a M-O-V-I-E. Short story – she can't be with him because he loves his Red Sox more than he loves her. He decides he's being an idiot and tries to sell his season tickets which have been in his family for something like 40 plus years. Her line that puts it all together,"If you love me enough to sell your season tickets, then I love you enough to stop you." Yay, happy tears and all, and she gets arrested for charging the field at a Red Sox game.

    Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic. Maybe I haven't had my heart broken enough times by men I though who loved me 'enough' (personally I think I have). But I'm still voting for love.

  10. I say this all the time – especially in response to a fight when all he says is, "but I love you". To me that is no longer the point – it is how we deal with this issue and move on from there. The love is the basis for it but not the only aspect of it.

  11. Okay, soooooo MAYBE just MAYBE, the real question is: what IS love? I mean really, what is it that makes it what it is and means to you, and as compared to what it is and what it means to your mate? Seriously, what it means is important to know and understand before one goes and decides if its "enough" or not!

    Ask yourself, WHAT does it mean to you? List anyone? I've asked many men and women in my life the same question, and I can not tell you how many times the ppl (who took my question seriously) felt stumped…

    PLUS: not ALL "long lasting, healthy, loving relationships" consist of or only of the notion of "romantic love", so what does it all mean?

  12. breanne-i guess i'd need to know a little bit more about the situation. is this a once in a lifetime opportunity, a long held dream, something that may have real long term benefits like signifigent pay increase or financial gain, career advancement? would turning this down seriously impact your career or position at your currrent job (and is there something special about this job that would make it worth it?

    i can only speak for myself, but moving away from my sweetie would be really difficult, and would be a serious adjustment, even a hardship for a very solid relationship. i love being with my fellow, and him with me, so only having that real-time connection sporadically would be very painful top both of us.

    BUT, if my partner were to suggest moving away for a year, it would be very important for me to really understand why my partner was willing to take this risk. so the first factor would be wether you both see eye to eye on the benefits and deficits of your moving. YOU may see the value of the move, and look at it as a temporary hardship with real long term rewards, but does he? if you both do, then it would still be tough, but you could then make a plan for how to deal with it-when you'd leave, when you'd come back, check out your $$ and see how often you two could visit each other. that would be comforting and reassuring. if you have a very strong relationship and you're both very comitted to having a long life as partners, than a mutually agreed upon year or so of long distance, withing the context of a life together, could be very doable.

  13. Here's my list of what love is:

    1) When he leaves the house before I do on a day when rain is forecast, he'll leave my umbrella on the doorknob so I don't forget it.

    2) When I've planned a girls-only weekend in the Hamptons, he gets the car washed and makes sure the gas tank is filled the night before I leave.

    3) He knows that I love getting the mail (all those magazines and catalogs!), so every once in a while, he'll send me a silly or romantic card (stamped and all).

    4) On a trip to Italy one spring, I admired (ok, drooled over) a gorgeous cashmere blanket in a shop in Tuscany. When we were back in the U.S., he called the shop owner, described the blanket, and had it shipped to his work address. Months later, after I'd forgotten all about it, he gave it to me for Christmas.

    5) As much as I love that cashmere blanket, I love the flannel one he got me even more. That one is for in the car (along with a matching pillow!), so I'm warm & comfy during naps, er, car trips.

    6) Right before we got engaged, we had the "kids or no kids?" discussion. He wanted them, but I definitely don't and told him so. I also told him that I understood if he wanted to break things off and find someone who shared his desire for children. We didn't speak for about a week, and then he called to tell me that he'd decided that he could be happy without children, but could NOT be happy without me. That was eight (happily child-free) years ago.

    7) Every once in a while, usually over drinks, we have a spontaneous "State of the Union" talk, where we discuss our plans for the future, rehash how amazing our wedding was, and giggle like idiots over how lucky we are to have found our soul mates.

    Is he perfect? Not by a long shot. But he IS perfect for ME. And I'm perfect for him. Appreciating that rarity, and loving each other for it, smooths the way for everything else, from money issues to whose turn it is to do the dishes. And that's what love is.

  14. Breanne, again – would have to know more about you but i think it's bad news. regardless of the deepest love, what's out of sight….
    obviously you've done it before but it's your life outside of job more important than the job? how does your husband feel. I'm sure you both would change a lot during that year and it would be so weird to come back together with all these separate experiences that have now changed you and to not have been involved with eachother during that time. everyone's different, but being an ocean apart for extended time doesn't sound healthy for a new marriage OR it could make it all fresh and exciting again so really i guess it's all about you two and noone can say for sure what time will bring.

  15. Just had to say – TraceyG – that is such a lovely post, and your husband sounds like a gem. I got all choked up reading your 'list of love.'

  16. "I'm just here for the food." Regarding the microwaved bagel – any time I visit New York I take at least a dozen bagels on the plane with me (carryon bag, naturally, because they're precious to me and I can't have them lost with my luggage) back to FL, now SF. They immediately go into the freezer.

    I defrost one at a time on the counter. When I want to eat it, I slice the bagel in half, microwave it on a plate with a coffee cup that has a quarter cup of water in it, then toast it. Tastes almost perfect.

  17. Sometimes love isn`t enough because life intervenes but it should be enough. Unfortunately love doesn`t conquer all like movies and romantic stories make us believe.
    TraceyG, let me just say Wow! You`re very lucky to have such a wonderful husband.

  18. Breane,

    I've never been married, but my last relationship lasted seven years and we were engaged for the last year of that time. During that time, we only lived in the same city for about four years, and those were split up into two-year intervals.

    We don't know the specifics of your situation, and my situation was different from yours, but in my experience: living in different states things extremely difficult for us. We kept in close contact via phone and email and it was a treat when we could be together, but being apart for long periods of time inevitably bring a lot of change to the relationship. Over a period of 1.5 years, there's the potential for a lot of change to occur in each of your lives individually, and those changes may be difficult to "fit" back into your current live-together relationship.

    But, like someone else said, you both might really learn and grow from this experience and it may help your relationship. It's hard for us to say. In my experience, my ex and I grew a lot individually while we were together AND apart, and our relationship couldn't accommodate the people we had become.

    So all that to say… consider looooong and hard before you make the decision, and I really hope that whatever you choose works out perfectly for you both.

  19. I've gone through one divorce and although we loved each other, we couldn't live together… however fate decided to give me another chance and I now have a husband (of 27+ years) that can chalk up a list to match TraceyG's… and I wouldn't trade him for the world. No, we aren't perfect, but we do love each other and we work a bit at making each other happy. Sometimes in today's world I think people run for divorce court too quickly, just because they can.

  20. TraceyG- I love the umbrella part! It's such a classic, loving gesture! That's what I love most about my husband… the little things. It doesn't cost money, but just a few seconds of showing "see, I care about you."

  21. Breane: (Very sorry to hijack your post, Stephanie!!)

    You have to ask yourself if the risk of a failed marriage is something that you are willing to accept if you take the job opportunity. Ultimately, you have to go with your gut. Your gut may tell to take the job. In my opinion, your subconscious often knows what is best for you. Maybe you do not want to consciously address some issues with your relationship? If the risk of a failed marriage is not something your are prepared to take, then pass on the job. You will be away longer than you have been married. Despite best efforts, you (and he) will be meeting people and doing things the other cannot share in. The time difference will make it even worse. I spent 3 months abroad without my husband of then 7 years and it caused major strain on our relationship. (We don't have kids.) Three years later, I think our marriage is still feeling the effects of my decision to go abroad. Good luck to you!

  22. Allow me to wax on my favorite topic: music history. Back in '67 when the song came out, there was plenty of unrest with the youth culture particularly with the Vietnam War. 1967 was all about flower power, peace signs, protests, blah blah. Although subject to interpretation, I think John Lennon wrote the song pertaining to the state of the world rather than a personal relationship.

    On the relationship side of love, I think there are varying degrees of love. The love for you spouse, brothers/sisters, friends, etc. I think there are even levels of love during the marriage. So after you're 'comfortable' in your marriage, I agree. There has to be more to it than love.

    OK, I'm done now. Saying The Beatles lied is as bad as microwaving a bagel ;-)

  23. Breanne:
    I think you will see that if you do it right, a year and a half is really not all that long. It's just important to stay in touch (almost daily if you can…!!) so that you don't "lose touch". Have him visit you as often as possible. And you visit your old life as often as possible. Keep tabs on whether each other feels fulfilled…and then adapt.

    Holy Moly! Where did you find such a man? I too got all misty from your list. Lovely!

    Excellent bagel tip. Thanks. Now I just need microwave.

    Love is def. NOT enough. Good list. But I think it's the kind of list you can only believe if you've had to end it with someone based on one of those numbers. It's easy to dismiss the list…until it's you. For me it was number four.

    I keep hoping that someday I will meet someone who is better for me in ways I never expected and can look back on my lost love and say, "oh, it wasn't JUST geography (number four)."

    I just saw the Edith Piaf movie (Fucking Fantastic!!) and there's a line that says something like, "When you die you get to be reunited with all your lost loves."

    A wonderful thought.

  24. Breanne,

    I just endured nine months in a trans-atlantic relationship, and it was pure hell. In addition to the distance and cost of travelling, you definitely need to factor in the strain of the difference in time. I was in the US, and it was incredibly hard for me not to be able to talk to him when I was falling asleep. We've been back in the same place for nearly two months, and we are still (so far, unsuccessfully) attempting to undo the damage done during those months.

    Two tips:

    1) Do not talk every day. Especially do not talk more than once a day. It creates resentment that the other person isn't there / that you are not living a shared life.

    2) Do not go more than a month (max) without seeing each other, and those visits need to be more than three days. The first day is awkward and anxious (what's happened? do I love him like I used to?), the last day is full of anger because one person is leaving. If you have a normal 9-to-5, 5-day-a-week job, you may not be able to arrange enough vacation time to maintain this relationship long-term.

    Good luck! On the upside, it is a trial by fire. I suspect that if we make it through this, the stresses and hardships associated with children, illness, etc, will be much easier to bear.

    My gut says, however, that it is a recipe for disaster.

  25. hi.. im Gianluca from Milan…mine compliments for your photos. indeed beautiful …

    write me a mail…you write me a mail.

    when you come in milan?

  26. To Breanne:
    I thought I'd share my experience, as I'm in your husband's spot. My boyfriend (3 years, of which 2,5 living together) works abroad. There was a year of 6 weeks work in Africa, 4 weeks home. He's about to leave again this weekend, a month to start, next schedule unsure.
    It's hard. On both of us. But this is what he wants. They're dream-come-true, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity carreer moves. And although he has said before that he would give up his job if I wanted him to, I know he would regret it. He knows it too. Maybe not tomorrow, but later, dreaming on 'what-ifs'. I don't want to be the cause of broken dreams. And I'd rather wait for him than be without him at all. I've made my choice and I'm sticking to it. I'll do my best to make this work. So does he, from asking how my day has been to sending roses on my birthday.

    I don't believe in any 'maximum time apart' rules described by another reader. This completely depends on the couple. A year and a half is very long. But at least you know it will end. You have a date to look forward to. I mark out those dates in bright red marker on my calendar. And yes, the first time we see each other again it's weird. Nervously staring at each other in bed, trying to get it on :). Getting used to his snoring again.
    We stay in touch through google talk and the odd phone call (he has lousy reception). Can your husband come over on holidays? It would be nice if he could get to know your world over there as well (I was never able to do that).

    One tip I can give you, if you decide to go through with your temporary move: show interest in his live when you're away. Make sure that the conversations you have are not just about your new experiences and exiting job. Talk about what matters to him too, the small stuff. That's what you'll miss most.

    The plus side of our situation: we never take each other's company/time for granted. We really enjoy the time we spend together.

    I hope you come to an agreement that works for both of you.

    (and apologies to Stephanie for turning her comments section into a self-help forum…)

  27. S-

    Pitch-perfect observation. I'm struggling with this myself after the end of a 6 year relationship. Love is not enough. Perhaps because I'm the one who loves more? So it's then the case then that I can't love enough for both of us. No equality and balance of the feelings leaves me tossing the preserver out to someone who wants to just float on his back.

    It's a hard, but invaluable lesson to learn…and well written at that.

  28. Breanne,

    No one can tell you what is or is not good for your marriage. Only you can make that decision. It works for some people and for others it does not. I think you have to look at your priorities and decide which consequences you can live with.

    Can you live without the job? Would you resent your husband if you didn't go? If you lose him because you choose to go, can you live with that?

    I think these are the kinds of questions you have to ask yourself and only you can provide the answers. It's all a matter of priorities.

  29. Oh yeah, I'll second, third and fourth everyone in saying this was a great post. I catagorize love in two segments. Selfish love, the kind where someone cares and loves you but when it comes down to the tough shit and they consider it inconvenient and bail. And then the real, selfless love where you know you're good together and when shit hits the fan, both parties roll up their sleeves and get dirty working through it. I think even when you've got everything in common, this factor still have to exist. I so admire people who can face problems head on and admit when they're wrong; its tough to do!

  30. I'm sorry to sound like a jerk, but this post just seems goofy to me – what? not all relationships work out? SHOCKING – thanks for illuminating us all. it just seems to pander to the wannabe 'women's forum' feel that this blog has taken on lately, in that it just begs for readers to share their personal experiences/theories instead of having anything even approaching interesting to say in the actual post besides regurgitated womens' magazine articles.

    Stephanie, as much as i hate to say it, i'd far rather read about you eating the stuff you scrape off of your own body than read this schmaltzy schlock. you can do better, lady!

  31. you´re so right! The ideal love is always supported to us trough media, but life´s a lot different.

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