What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

27 Sep

Member that class in grade school? Where they explained Relationships? That I missed? Well, this week, I feel like someone(s) slipped me the notes!

Thank you for the incredible response to my last week’s newsletter about “The Last Kiss,” and for sharing everything from personal stories and concerns, to relationship coaches and workshops! I am so grateful for all your thoughtful emails and comments, that I’d thought I’d share a few of “the notes” this week.

Overall, the overwhelming response was that – and this may be incredibly obvious but is worth stating I think – committed relationships require kept promises, work, and well, commitment. Without any further adieu…

“…Relationships are just like your job — it you coast in the office, you get canned. If you coast in your relationships they fall apart. A lot of people refuse to acknowledge this fact. They figure you fall in love and you can go on auto pilot. Nothing could be further from the truth. The longer you’re with someone, the harder you need to work.”

“You ask a lot of good questions. Relationships ARE tricky, and, I think, inherently difficult, but doesn’t something difficult make the trying all that more rewarding? Media tends to view modern love relationships with with either a rose colored lens or an eye of skepticism and what I call the eye of the “Casualty Vampire.” How many magazines have you seen that suck on the “what went wrong” of this or that relationship? Purely for balance do you see one that focuses on “what’s going well”? We have become a society that loves to look at what is going badly because it makes us feel better about ourselves and puts our lives in perspective. However, it has become a fear-based obsession. It seems to me that, like Zach Braff’s character, many of my friends are avoiding relationships for fear of what might go wrong, and many more avoid marriage for the same reason. I strongly believe that were America to turn off its televisions, we’d have a much easier time living in relationships and letting them evolve without judgment.”

And one of my personal favorites:

“Amen, sister.”


So, with love (and how does it all work???) on the mind, I got an email this weekend with the subject line “baby pics” from a friend I haven’t been in touch with for years. I met him three and a half years ago on a yoga retreat, and at that time he was in his mid-40’s and recently divorced from a woman he had been married to for 17 years, lived with for two years before that, and dated for three years before that even. And this email I received, three and a half short years later, contained pictures of his second wife’s sonogram, along with her upcoming due date. I didn’t even know he was dating anyone!

I emailed him to congratulate him and get up-to-date, and it turns out that he met her a few months after the retreat when they were seated next to each other on an airplane, they got married last year, and now they are expecting their first child. He is so excited, and says he feels like he’s started his life all over again.


So there’s a huge divorce rate. And stories. And movies. And TV shows. And magazine articles. About infidelity. About problems and fights, disagreements and disappointments. About how men don’t understand women and women can’t understand men. About how marriage will forcibly, violently, suck all the life and joy out of you and then leave you for dead, emotionally wasted at the side of some ditch (See: Fox’s “‘Til Death,” and don’t even get me started!). Or about how relationships must be perfect or you need to get out, and fast! (like, now for instance) and hurry up and get something/one better, setting unrealistic (See: impossible) expectations, that nothing/one could ever live up to.

But still. I know way more than 3 couples who are happy together. And Zach Braff’s actual, unparaphrased line in the movie “The Last Kiss” was that he will marry his girlfriend when she can name 3 couples that have lasted for more than 5 years. And I know way more than 3 of those, too, who have been together for way longer than that. Hey, I know someone who started over and is starting a family at 49.

I am reminded of the title of the Raymond Carver story I read in college “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” and that I can choose what to talk about, what to think about, and what to believe, when it comes to love, and when it comes to everything really. So despite the numbers that are being thrown at me, at us, by society, and the media, I have my own numbers to go on, and they have taught me that I enjoy a good, real, true love story with all its juicy up-and-down-ness – all the complexities, complications, triumphs, and more – and that above all, I believe in love.

Stay tuned for next week, I have decided that October is the official month of OBSTACLES, namely, KICKING THEM TO THE CURB! And there might be some John Mayer mixed in there somewhere, you know how I love those pop influences. I’m pretty sure I can make it relevant…

Until then, Happy Writing, and live and love it up this week!




Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer Garam.  All rights reserved.


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