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Best ways to know that you have true love

Best ways to know that you have true love

Despite Tolstoy’s claim that all happy families are alike, I think there are many different ways to be happily married. All of them depend on a shared understanding of implicit rules (or, if you prefer, contingencies regarding what effects will follow from different behaviors). You could say that every marriage is a culture of its own, and there are many different functional and dysfunctional marital cultures. Many marital cultures are dysfunctional because one of the partners only pretends to be a member of the culture. A gay teen going to condemnatory church services with his or her family is not unlike a spouse who performs monogamy but only gets sexual pleasure from new conquests, or a spouse who finds school-age children boring but gets discredited as a mother if she claims they’re anything but fascinating.

These are some of the ways to know that you are in true love:

Intimacy exists

Whatever activities threaten the spouses’ alliance must be monopolized by the marriage. This usually means sex, but it might mean playing bridge, co-authoring an academic paper, or divulging a fantasy. There must be some information that stays in the marriage, secrets that bind the parties.

Keep fighting

As Kevin Bacon said, “Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty.” You are fighting with the love of your life, not with some stranger who is trying to take advantage of you, even though it may feel like the latter.

Stay sensitive

Each partner is a lover and a beloved; neither specializes. If all the world is divided into divas and talent managers, each is equally a diva. Both spouses think they are lucky; neither thinks they could have done better. Thinking how lucky they are to have found the right person is a salve to life’s disappointments and frustrations.

Work together

They are teammates putting on performances for others, and they support the performance that the other is attempting in public. Their teamwork makes them pleasant to be around for others. When they team with others outside the marriage, it is understood by all that the spouse could obtain access to the inner workings of the other team if the spouse felt threatened or excluded.

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