Of course it isn't the end of true love! But you'd think it was if you listened to all the Twitter chatter about Mr. Sparks's separation and pending divorce with his wife of 25 years. I'm just flabbergasted at the drivel that people are spewing because this bestselling romance novelist's marriage didn't work. Here are some of the ridiculous quotes flashing around the Twittersphere and I don't want to put the author credits because they just don't deserve the attention – but you can do searches on Twitter for them yourself if you're interested.
- “PSA: I was just informed that nicholas sparks got a divorce so basically love is dead”
- “Nicholas Sparks is getting a divorce and love is officially dead.”
- “Nicholas Sparks is getting a divorce?! There's no hope for love :(“
- “Nicholas Sparks got a divorce this week so basically there's no hope for any of us”
I could continue, but I'm sure you get the point.
As a romance novelist myself, and having been through two divorces AND now in a very successful and healthy relationship, I think I have a pretty solid soap box on which to stand. Since this is my website, I'll take the liberty of climbing on top of said makeshift podium and pontificate. TRUE LOVE IS NOT DEAD. I know because I'm living it. MUCH of the romance in my books is based on the true love principles I'm sharing in this article. I've said many times before, my husband is the heart that beats within Broderick MacDougal, the main character in my Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles.
How bloody absurd it is that people are taking this leap just because Nicholas Sparks had problems in his love life! BUT it highlights how unrealistic people are about love today. I'll make a couple of important points I've learned the hard way through the years:
- Romance novels are fiction, not reality.
- No relationship is without its issues
Addressing Nicholas Sparks specifically regarding his relationship with the ex-Mrs. Sparks – we have no idea what caused their split. And honestly, it's none of our business. There are many factors that go into a relationship and there's always two sides to a story. They're both getting up there in years, so what if their problems are related to hormone issues? I don't know about you, but I'm peri-menopausal and I can be a real raving bitch some days (thank the GODS for Estroven – aka “Happy Pills”!) and I know male friends who need to admit they should get testosterone treatments as they're getting up there in years, too. Most people are not willing to admit it's an age problem or chemical imbalance and those are the causes of many-a-divorce and mid-life crises. Do not neglect the body!! This could very well be their problem and maybe neither of them are willing to go to the doctor about it. But if that isn't the problem, what do THEY have to do with YOU? That's my point.
True love is relative and it cannot be based on fiction or the success or failure of another relationship. What it boils down to is how well two people get along AND how well they respect each other. That's the short version. Here's the long one…
Romance Novels are Fiction – NOT Reality
Don't get me wrong, there is some truth in romance novels! I think much of what is in fantasy is blurred with reality, but not EVERYTHING in a romance novel is without merit. Here are some examples of reality versus fiction. Even though I use heterosexual references, this absolutely applies to gay/lesbian relationships, too!
- Communication: This is the most important issue, and something that sorely lacks in a lot of romance novels AND reality. A well-written romance novel won't have that if-they-would-just-TALK-to-each-other-this-could-all-work-out element (GAWD – the whole first half of Pride and Prejudice was this very problem – sorry Jane Austen fans). A failed relationship will usually have this problem, too. If you want your relationship to succeed, you MUST communicate. Don't hold your feelings inside and give each other the freedom to talk about feelings without attacking each other (NO “YOU” statements – always, “I feel like this when this happens….” – believe me, it goes a LONG way and this article is great reading on that topic) and without feeling you need to defend yourself. Read this article to help learn if you're overly defensive. Owning your own emotions is another great topic to study, and this article is a great start!
- The couple is perfect…for each other: Even though romance novels usually describe the guys as hunks and the women as goddesses (which is the fantasy part), the reality of true love has less to do with physical appearance and is more about the whole package. Sexual attraction doesn't have to be limited to physical appearance, either. It's important that your partner stimulate you intellectually, can make you laugh, and/or a number of other traits that YOU personally find valuable. My husband and I are far from model-material and I'm definitely a plus-size gal, but my husband LOVES curves, so I'm perfect for HIM. His physique may not include six-pack abs, but he is the exact physique that turns ME on. We both say to each other, “Do NOT get your eyes fixed!” But even though we are the right physical type for each other (in spite of how we feel about ourselves), it's the complete package that really turns us on. You've seen it yourself – a really handsome man or gorgeous woman can suddenly become very ugly when they treat someone horribly, are conceited and insensitive to others' feelings, etc. Who cares if they're cute…they're an asshole! Part of the attraction in a relationship should be how well a couple meshes with each other, too. My husband and I laugh at the same jokes, love the same books and movies and music, and we enjoy the same recreational activities – computer games!! Yes, we are total geeks! OMG what a turn on!! My husband helps me brainstorm my stories and supports my career. What more could a girl ask for??? That's true love as far as I'm concerned!
- Healthy Relationship: Nothing irks me more than those romance novels where the hero is an ass and/or the female gives women a bad name…and yet the two still love each other. Awwww…(puke). Such an example (e.g., being abusive to each other) is very unhealthy. It's not to say people can't have faults or they won't argue. Gods know my characters certainly aren't perfect nor do they lack conflict. We're all people with flaws and we all have our issues, which will most likely lead to arguments. But a healthy relationship means respect for your partner and treating them well. It means overcoming the differences with each other and letting the other person BE HIMSELF/HERSELF. In my relationship, I'm the hotheaded one that rants and raves and vents. My husband calmly asks, “Are you done now?” I think a moment. “No!” I rant some more and then say, “I'm done.” He nods. “Good.” He doesn't tell me I'm too loud or emotional or wrong. He just lets me be me, and I don't ridicule him for not getting as fired up about something as much I do. Where we all need to draw the line between fantasy and reality is DRAMA. Unfortunately, so many people create drama in their lives. Leave the drama to the romance novels! You want PEACE in your relationship. If you don't have it, you might be with the wrong person or you have some rethinking to do. Being with your partner should give you peace, security, serenity…not a knot in your stomach, ulcers or nervous sweats every time you're with them or think of them. Click on the previous “create drama” link if you find you're always arguing with your partner about senseless things that really don't matter. You might find you're addicted to drama! This is a good article, too.
- Balance: I'm not a big proponent of two people having nothing in common, and unfortunately many people take the “opposites attract” rule the wrong way. The match should create a balance, and in most well-written love stories, there is something opposing about the couples, but they're complimentary to each other. He's a calm, cool collected guy and she's overly emotional; or the other way around, with the alpha male and soft female that has more emotional than physical strength; he's street smart and she's book smart or vice versa. I'm sure there are a hundred examples, but the important part is balance, which is healthy. The two compliment each other. See the example above about my hotheadedness versus my husband's cool-headedness.
- Understanding Your Partner: In order to understand your partner, you have to make your partner your best study. LEARN what they like, dislike, enjoy. I had a total ego boost last night when hubby and I went to dinner. He said, “Order the chicken & spinach ravioli for me,” then popped off to the restroom. When the waiter came around for the order, he asked which sauce my husband wanted on his pasta, which we had not discussed. I said, “The Alfredo sauce, please.” The waiter raised his eyebrow. “You order for your husband?” he asked with skepticism. I nodded confidently. When the waiter returned to our table a little later with our drinks, he asked my now-present husband, “Did she order correctly for you?” My husband smiled and said with a sparkle in his eye for me, “She knows what I like.” The waiter was totally impressed and even asked how long we'd been together. “ONLY seven years?” he responded when we told him. “I'm impressed you know him so well after such a short time.” We've made a study of each other and we enjoy knowing each other that well. It's fun for us! And it's very comforting.
Everyone has faults. Nobody is perfect. BUT we can be perfect for each other, as mentioned above. So how do you know if you're with the right person? Or if you're getting into the right relationship? I learned the hard way that there are three very important rules you MUST abide by when you're in a relationship IF you want it to last:
- DO NOT LET ANOTHER PERSON CHANGE YOU
- DO NOT THINK YOU CAN – OR TRY TO – CHANGE ANOTHER PERSON.
- If you have any doubts, refer back to rules #1 & 2. Period.
Men are just as guilty of trying to change their partner as women are, and I know that for a fact as I have been through several failed relationships where that is exactly what my partner kept trying to do – change me. Admittedly, I am a very opinionated, voice-carrying (aka loud) and an animated person. Both my first husbands and my last rebound relationship before I married my current/last husband always had something to say about those features of my character. “Can't you be more subdued or quiet or (get this) demure?” All three of them literally asked that question AFTER we were married (or, as in the rebound relationship, fully committed and talking marriage).
Anyone who knows me for 15 minutes knows I am FAR from demure or quiet. It's laughable they had actual expected that of me…or anyone, for that matter. I NOW say (after learning my lesson), “If you wanted someone quiet and demure, then you should have married someone quiet and demure!” NEVER try to mold a person you're with into your idea of the perfect relationship…even if you're already in a marriage that used to work but doesn't now. It WILL fail. Refer to the rules above. Isn't it funny that my current/last husband LOVES those traits in me? He not only loves them, he admires them. That was a big indication that we were in a healthy relationship.
Don't Rush a Relationship
Many of us are usually in the throws of puppy love when we meet someone new. Nothing they do is wrong and they're so wonderful! Almost every relationship has this optimistic phase at the beginning (aka the “honeymoon phase”). So, how can you be honest about your relationship to properly evaluate the longevity of it?
Well, first of all, cheap klonopin line give your relationship time to get past the honeymoon phase. DO NOT marry someone after knowing them only a few months. If the relationship is really meant to be forever, then you have forever to get married. What's the rush? If you need validation that they love you, then you're either too insecure or you're with the wrong person because they've given you reason to doubt. If you feel you need to give them an ultimatum (e.g., Marry me by X-date or I'm gone), then you're in the wrong relationship or you're not ready for one.
Take your time getting to know each other. And don't use that excuse that your biological clock is ticking, ladies. Who cares! Women are having babies into their 40s, very safely these days, and there is always adoption. So many children need good, loving and healthy homes! Be a hero to them! Rushing into a relationship for the wrong reasons (yes…just because you want kids is no reason to get married) is only going to end in failure. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that plenty of married couples with children get divorces. Kids do not save or cement a marriage. They only cement child support. And if you're lonely, you need to work on loving yourself, because neither a relationship nor will kids fix that!
Okay, so let's say you're past the rose-colored-glasses phase. You've been with someone at least two years and you want to be sure you're with the right person. Here's what I want you to do:
- Sit down with a piece of blank paper and a pen (not a pencil) – if you're OCD, put that aside for this exercise…as difficult as that may be!
- Draw a line down the middle of the page from top to bottom, splitting it in half (see example image)
- On one side, write the heading PROS
- On the other side, write the heading CONS (P.S. The image to the right is a SAMPLE LIST, not mine! LOL)
- Now write a list under each of those areas – the PROS and CONS of this person you love. What do you love/like about this person (PROS) and what do you hate/dislike about this person (CONS). And nothing is too trivial for either side and most important – BE HONEST! You're only hurting yourself and your partner if you're not honest.
- Look at the PROS – Do you smile when you re-read the list to yourself? Do you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Do you feel proud of the person when you read over those items? Do you feel BLESSED/LUCKY/FORTUNATE that your mate has those qualities? Do you find yourself adding more items to the list or perhaps need to turn the page over? If so, we're off to a GREAT start!
- Look at the CONS – Examine those in the same way, and pay particular attention to how they make you feel. Do you grind your teeth when you read this list? Do you feel like crying when you read it? Or do you want to throw something? Do you want to crumpleup the list and burn it? If not, this is another good sign. If they bug you, but don't solicit overpowering emotions, that's GREAT! But be sure you're being honest, too.
- Ask yourself this question (and I recommend asking it out loud): “If [insert partner's name] never, ever, ever, NEVER, EVER changed ANY of these items on the CONS list (not a single ONE), could I live with that for the REST OF MY LIFE?” If your answer is, “NO!” then you are most definitely with the wrong person. If you even thought for a moment, “Oh, s/he'll grow out of that in time,” you should seriously rethink your relationship because there is a very good chance that CON will never change. Remember, you have to decide if you can LIVE with that person and their faults if those NEVER changed. Could you tolerate them? That's okay and may be the case, but you can NEVER hold those CONS against that person if you choose to live with them. You CANNOT let them build up resentment, because loving someone means accepting all their faults. If any one of those CONS are make-it-or-break-it items, SERIOUSLY reconsider spending the rest of your life with that person. It's never too late to stop a wedding – I don't care how much money you spent on the preparations. You will infinitely spend more money on the divorce and it will hurt a LOT more AND you might bring kids into the conflict and turmoil. A lot more is at stake if you go through with a relationship you know isn't going to work just to salvage your pride.
- FINAL TEST: Show this list to your partner.
Whoa! Does that last item strike fear into the very core of soul? If not, then that is a TERRIFIC sign! Congratulations!
If so, you're with the wrong person. Period. Think on this: What are you afraid of?
If you're open, honest and communicating with your partner, which is how a healthy relationship should be, then you should not have a problem if your partner saw the list. And do not edit the list before you show them! It might actually be a very good experience, showing them those PROS & CONS. In a healthy relationship, those CONS should not be surprises and the PROS should make your partner smile, too. This list could be a good point of conversation and help clear the air between you two about issues you might have not discussed. And it's a great exercise to do together. Step #9 is the make-it-or-break-it part of the exercise. You know you're in the wrong relationship if you cannot show this list to your partner because of any of these reasons (or all of them)…
- you're afraid your partner will get very upset – enough to end the relationship
- you're afraid you'll have a lot of damage control to perform – too much for you or your partner to manage and still salvage the relationship
- you KNOW your partner will continue to throw this list in your face for many years to come – even if they DID do the exercise with you.
- you're afraid of what your partner will think of you – to the point where you think they will end the relationship.
- you're afraid their going to cry, yell, scream or rant because they didn't even pay attention to the PROS side of the paper and/or they will nit-pick and try to justify every single point on the CONS list and prove that you're wrong.
The examples can go on, but the bottom line is…if your relationship will not survive this experience OR you cannot do it together with 100% honesty, then it's not a healthy relationship. I know…been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the ball cap! The truth hurts…and a solid relationship will withstand the pain and have a brighter future as a result of it. My husband and I did this exercise and there were things we didn't like on the CONS lists, but we talked about them AND we did not have any expectations these items would ever change. And the PROS list helped us compliment and admire each other, which built our confidence in each other. It also brought out topics we had not yet discussed and the CONS have proven to be great reminders that it's not our job to change the other person. Our relationship is better for the experience and we love to share this technique with others.
ALSO – you have to consider that your partner might actually be okay with the list and YOU'RE the one who is too insecure to share it. If you are, then perhaps you're not ready for a relationship. Being afraid of being alone is a HUGE sign of low self-esteem. Additionally, you CANNOT control what other people do or what they think, and thinking you can keep someone from behaving a certain way by withholding information is an illusion. Also you need to work on loving yourself enough to respect your feelings enough to share them, and be okay if your partner is NOT okay with you expressing yourself. There are three major benefits to loving yourself:
- What other people think is not the end of the world and you're okay with their opinion, even if you don't like it.
- You will have love enough to love someone else (the opposite is true if you DON'T love yourself – you DO NOT have enough love for others).
- You are less judgmental of yourself, and therefore less judgmental of others.
And there's nothing wrong with being a little insecure about how you look or your weight. I think there's enough scientific proof to show that not only does our culture put WAY TOO MUCH WEIGHT on the superficiality of appearance, but we put ON WAY TOO MUCH WEIGHT because of the media selling us on products that are just plain bad for us and addictive – sugar, fast foods, complex carbs, processed foods, etc – all for the mighty dollar. Let's face it, the FDA and pharmaceutical industries are NOT concerned for our health. But that's a whole other topic.
Love Yourself – Or You Cannot Love Another
I'm talking about the kind of self-love where you can look in the mirror and smile at the person you are, be proud of your accomplishments and be okay with spending time alone and having a good time doing it. If you feel…
- You ALWAYS have to be in a relationship or your self-worth is based on your relationship status (e.g., What's wrong with me that no one wants to date me?)
- You're ALWAYS on the phone or tapping text messages
- You're on social media more than 3 hours a day (unless your job demands otherwise)…
…you just might need to work on being okay with YOU. Spending time with yourself should be a joy! I LOVE spending time alone! I write, listen to music, go for walks, enjoy the weather, read a good book, watch a movie, relax…all alone and it all makes me smile – not restless or bored or sad. I'm not perfect, so don't hear me say that. But I do love me – faults and all. AND I enjoy time with others, especially my husband. He's my best friend! I love it when he and I are together AND when he goes out with the boys or does his own thing, because it allows me to do my own thing with my own friends or myself.
So ask yourself if you spend enough time with one who should be your favorite person – YOU. If I can love me and be my own best friend, anyone can. Because I was taught to hate myself since I was a child, by what people told me and how they treated me. And I used to listen to those people. But now I don't. Thank the Gods! Anyone today who doesn't like who I am, I kindly say, “Thanks for your opinion. Have a good day and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!”
Everyone can change…but they must make the change within and of themselves. We cannot expect that change in others. They have to do it themselves…just as we have to feel motivated to make our own changes.
Okay! This turned out to be a therapy session, huh? This topic of people giving up on true love, because of Nicholas Sparks, really struck a chord with me and I just wanted to share what I've learned and hope others can benefit from my experiences. I have finally found my own romance novel hero in my husband and I know such a relationship is out there for everyone who wants it and if they apply these principles.
I hope some of you can walk away from this with something to think about and perhaps learn something. This is my opinion, and opinions are like bellybuttons – everyone's got one! If you think my bellybutton is full of lint, you are entitled to that opinion. 😉 If this post helped you, I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send me a private message at Tsu or Facebook.
That's my two pence…