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.