I watched a movie tonight called Remembrance about a woman who was in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and was saved by a man whom she loved. The movie takes place 30 years later. She’s living in New York City, married with a daughter. She had thought he had died but then she goes to the dry cleaner to pick up linens for a dinner party and hears his voice on a television being interviewed about the camps.

She goes home and is trying to make phone calls to try to find him all throughout this dinner party. Her husband wants to know what’s wrong and she says she won’t say and he says, it’s not just your problem, it’s ours. No, she says, this time it is just mine.

She eventually tracks him down and goes to see him in Poland with her husband’s blessing. The movie ends with her getting off the bus in his hometown in Poland and his gaze and hers meeting.

I have become so… disappointed with most romantic movies they make because I think they really do us all a disservice when it comes to living out marriage. They fill our heads with a lot of awful ideas. They tend to end right as the relationship is starting. The whole focus is on finding THE ONE. If you’d just find THE ONE, you’d live your happily ever after. Big romantic gestures and winning the person over and finally raealizing why you always wind up with the wrong person and now you’ve learned and found THE ONE.

Remembrance is based on a true story (read about it here) that doesn’t have a very happy ever after to it. There’s a big romantic gesture at the start but then some really bad timiing and a disappointing ending. But ya know what? I kinda like that about it.

As I was watching the movie, I found myself really relating to the main character and her current husband and how this was affecting their marriage. I felt for the guy. How do you compete with a guy who saved your wife from the Nazis?? He saved her and disappeared and they never had to deal with bills and kids and whose fault it was that the minivan’s inspection was overdue and you got a ticket and…. How can you compete with that? In a romantic sense, you can’t. It’s like expecting a mother of three whose been to hell and back and eaten her way through it to compete with a man’s idealized vision of what she ought to look like. It’s a shallow, immature vision of love.

Love is a feeling, yes, but while it may first come into being by virtue of romantic notions, it certainly is not sustained that way and it certainly does not grow that way. Real love comes when we let go of what we thought it would look like. Maybe you wanted a girl with a small waist and a big booty and demure manner but instead you find yourself with an apple who curses like a sailor sometimes. Maybe you wanted a guy who’d be so emotionally intelligent he’d put Jesus himself to shame and would always say the right thing but instead you’re lying in bed at night next to a well intentioned guy who requires an awful lot of psychoeducation and tends to speak before he thinks.

Grand romantic gestures and charm and poetry and perfect beautiful bodies are nice and all, but it’s the sprinkles of this life not the ice cream. It’s not even the fudge or the whipped cream. Don’t get me wrong, I love sprinkles, but who wants to eat a bowl full of sprinkles? Love is mostly vanilla ice cream with the occasional sprinkle on top. The sprinkles are a wonderful treat, but it’s the ice cream that fills your belly.

I had a really really rough week recently that involved a really really awful 36 hour long day. I came home at the end of it and my husband surprised me with flowers and a card. He’d gotten three of our kids to sign it (including Princess) and the older two had written in things like “thank you for working hard for us.” I appreciated the flowers, I did, but it was the card that got me.

Our culture markets these ideals to us, these expectations. Of what our soul mate will look like, and act like, and do, and say. It’s only when we let go of these caricatures that we truly find love. And finding it is only the beginning.