“If you want to keep your love alive, you have to be attentive to all the little things that go wrong along the way, and constantly course-correct. If you can do that, you’ll never set foot in my office,” Sexton concludes.
Though this is great advice on its face, it's also highly simplistic. Yes, love is a verb if people are ultimately right for one another. If you've found the right person, then sure, you should be doing everything in your power to keep the love alive. Because that initial infatuation will fade. Then you're just left with another human being, fit with all the flaws that we all have.
Keeping the love alive is doing your best to empathize with, uplift, support, encourage, and maintain an attraction to your partner, who at times may be annoying, smelly, in a bad mood, or suffering from some other serious life setback that makes them hard to get along with. And that's work. But it's worth it if they're ultimately the person you're meant to end up with.
I think what people miss out on when speaking of divorce and/or how to have a happy marriage is that some couples just aren't a fit. They may have gotten married at a time when they didn't have all their shit worked out. They may have believed this person was right for them, but that ended up not being the case. One's spouse may end up being a very bad influence, a very bad choice to keep around. It's not always because they're a bad person. They're just not the person you were supposed to end up with.
But there's so much stigma about divorce, so many "experts" who swoop in with this simplistic advice to make you feel like crap as if you weren't strong enough, you didn't work hard enough to carry out all these loving acts on a daily basis. You didn't exercise the act of love enough. That's why your marriage didn't work out.
Sorry, that's too simplistic. As a happily divorced woman, every time I read one of these pieces I cringe. For a long time, I tried to keep my marriage together. Then finally, I said, "Fuck it." We divorced. We weren't right for each other. My ex isn't a bad guy. He was "almost right" for me. I know this because we still get along, but I also now clearly see how we simply weren't the person either of us was meant to end up with. There is nothing wrong with that.
Now I'm with a new man. Well, he's not so new; we've been together five years. And sure, we're at that human stage, meaning I've realized my boyfriend is just another human being.
For me, loving him IS an action. But it's an action that I can continue carrying out because he's right for me. We're 100% compatible. Sure, there have been small hiccups along the road, but I know that staying happy together IS working at it. But only because the relationship is worthy of that.
So love is a verb, but only if the couple is compatible enough to make it in the long run.