As I turned off the latest episode of Married At First Sight, my mouth hung agape from the delicious drama. I wished desperately this was a streaming show so I could indulge in more.
I pondered the answer typically given for why people agree to partake in this show. What drives them to put their vulnerability and dirty laundry on display for others to scrutinize and obsess over.
Many contestants across all reality shows echo a similar sentiment. They want to “find love…”, or they’re ready to have love find them.
But is love something you can find? Just like you can’t “lose your virginity…” or how there’s no cure to “fix loneliness”…. Is love something you can find? Can you stumble upon it as easily as finding a lucky penny on a busy New York City sidewalk? It’s not a tangible thing you can hold, or lose.
You can’t find something that was maybe never lost in the first place.
Lifetime Network’s Married At First Sight is a reality show centered on this concept of “finding love”. It’s a social experiment in which experts match two single individuals who agree to get legally married before ever meeting.
They will blend their families, embark on a honeymoon, and join homes together. They want to be married. They want to start their lives with someone. And they’re willing to bet it all on a complete stranger.
My favorite expert on the show is the badass love guru, Pastor Cal. Pastor Cal is not afraid to drop truth bombs on the participating men and women. He has very little tolerance for the man who insists on sleeping in his own house to not mess up his workout schedule. Or to the woman who wants to call it quits from this lifelong commitment because she despises her partner’s pooch.
Per the show’s website, Pastor Cal’s bio states: Calvin Roberson is a sought after magnetic speaker, acclaimed author, marriage coach, and relationship expert. As an ordained minister and pastoral counselor, Calvin has dedicated nearly three decades to public speaking, teaching and relationship building.
Often when confronted with the possibility of love, we build walls instead of boundaries.
We invest in unattainable partners because the lack of love we’ll receive is predictable. We find safety in the recurring pain.
We then set impossible standards for our next potential partner. Guarding our already broken hearts.
Or we might lose sight of our standards, allowing someone else to set them for us.
We call red flags “magenta”, choosing to see beauty in the actions that will inevitably cause us pain.
We want a wedding, not a marriage.
We want someone to fix us, and we’d gladly give all of our efforts to fix someone else.
And can we blame ourselves? Scroll through Instagram for 30 seconds or hop on a call with our judgemental friend from high school. Our hearts and brains will flood with opinions on what love and relationships should look, feel, and be like.
Enter Pastor Cal.
He helps a select few couples on TV, and many real life couples, not just find love or fall in love, but grow in love. He guides them in breaking down their walls and setting healthy boundaries. He helps uncover realistic standards. He encourages everyone to show up as their true, honest, vulnerable self. Letting that be the person who is seen.
Some of these couples become teammates. Some of them start the life they’ve always wanted, with the partner they’ve only met in their dreams, until now. All with Pastor Cal offering guidance, acting as the most badass expert wingman of all time.
Wherever you are on your love journey, here are some words of wisdom from my spirit animal, Pastor Cal.
. . .
1.) You don’t just fall in love; you grow in love.
“I vehemently disagree that you just fall in love. You grow in love. I believe you can have both. Love is something that you grow. Because when you grow something you have to nurture it, water it, and take an active part in its growth. You are the ones who are responsible for it growing. So I believe that if you love someone, it’s an intellectual decision that you make, to be committed to that person’s legitimate needs. And once you’ve decided to do that, and made that intellectual commitment: ‘I’m gonna be committed to fulfilling your needs. Period. Till death do us part.’”
— Pastor Cal
The idea of growing in love rocked me to my core. I believe it’s a two-part process. Part 1: You fall in love. Part 2: You decide to continue growing in love.
I adore it being an intellectual commitment to be responsible for the growth of this shared love. It’s amazing to see couples reflect on when their young love started to grow and how it’s continued to bloom over time.
If you view your love with someone as a houseplant, you must tend to it in order for the houseplant to grow.
Maybe your houseplant is sitting in the perfect amount of sunlight and you water it the right amount. It’s repotted when it needs to be, and new soil is added to keep it healthy.
Or maybe you were really excited to tend to the plant at first, and after a while it was forgotten about. It’s not watered regularly and has wilted. It’s up to you to help the plant continue growing. You need to remove its dying leaves to make room for fresh ones. You have to move it closer to the sun. You have to remind yourself to regularly check on it.
In a relationship, both people have to be committed to the growing of your metaphorical love houseplant. It’s up to both partners to understand the houseplants needs and show up to do their part in its growth and survival.
We’ve all been there where we’ve had to trash a houseplant we were once so excited to buy. If you need to trash a houseplant, let it be that despite your efforts, you couldn’t figure out how to help it grow. You did your damndest, but something was off. Don’t let it be because you simply forgot, or you heard your wilting houseplants cries but had better things to do.
Treat your love like a houseplant.
. . .
2.) Love isn’t just a word, it’s an action.
“The word is a very small part if you’re already living it.” — Pastor Cal
It’s easy to get caught up in saying the phrase “I love you,” and the meaning behind the word. I’m someone who loves words of affirmation. So my partner sharing their love through language is important to me. Yet, if love is just being shared as a word without action behind it, the meaning of it escapes.
Love must be put into action. Love must be shown, not just said. And if you’re living the word, make sure you share it by saying it as well.
3.) If we don’t set a standard for how to be treated, a standard will be set for us.
“If you don’t set a standard with men, they will set one. But if you set one, they won’t mind reaching it.”
— Pastor Cal
Pastor Cal shared this to a group of women on the show, but I feel like this goes both ways in a relationship.
We must set a standard for how we deserve to be treated, and we must communicate that. We must set boundaries and non-negotiables around what we’re willing to accept and what’s important to us.
As Pastor Cal continues, if you set a standard, your partner doesn’t mind reaching it. It helps both parties involved. If I say what I want, there’s no mind games or crystal ball my partner has to look into and try to understand how to meet my needs. And vice versa, if he articulates what matters to him, I know what will make him feel loved and how to show up for him. I know how to support him and respect him.
Set a standard for yourself, communicate that to your partner, and know how to handle if they do not meet your standard.
Don’t live your life based on what someone else’s standard for a relationship is.
. . .
4.) Life is an adventure, but it’s also a whole lotta just hanging out.
“90% of life is hanging out. You must be with someone you like to just hang out with.”
— Pastor Cal
Often on the show a disgruntled bride or groom express how during the wedding and honeymoon they felt sparks. But now, after a few weeks back home, balancing their jobs and new partnership, the spark has disappeared. It doesn’t feel as magical, as fun, as free.
It’s not as magical or fun and free. Because you’re having to do the real life shit all responsible adults have to do, and it’s not always glamorous or sexy.
So much of life is just hanging out with your partner. Sharing a quiet dinner on a Tuesday and reading in bed next to each other. It’s a crap ton of moments and days like chilling while you’re on your way to your next adventure.
If you find someone you enjoy the simple moments with, the moments of adventure will be epic. If you genuinely like your partner while it’s a lazy Sunday doing laundry, running errands and watching football, you’ve won.
. . .
5.) Do you want a marriage? Or do you want a wedding?
“We’ve been inundated with media, and these ideas that marriage is supposed to be this fanciful thing, where you’re riding off into the sunset. Especially for our “Married At First Sight” people, I tell them, ‘this is a great thing, but it’s only for people who really want this.’ You’ve got to go through those hard times and those adjustment periods, before you get to the sweet spot of marriage.”
— Pastor Cal
Many of the contestants will say things like, “I’m ready to be a wife! Let’s do this! Marry me UP, I. Am. Ready!”
I wince as I see this… because, look; I get it. But after this dreamy wedding comes the responsibilities, efforts and adulting with your partner. Building an actual life alongside your relationship.
Media sends a twisted message that if we don’t have a ring on it by a certain age, we should retreat to the sidelines of love and wait for a miracle to happen. We’ve already been put out to pasture.
There becomes this need to be married. To be a wife or husband. To have this glorious wedding, all your friends and family can come to celebrate your expired singledom. This need can sometimes supersede the partnership. The creation of a team. The meaning of a marriage after the saying of I do and eating of the cake.
A wedding is one day. A marriage is a lifetime.
Love is something uniquely shared. No two people will ever feel or experience love in the same way.
I hope you all fall wildly in love and then continue to grow it.
Remember to water your houseplants and make sure it has enough sunlight to survive.
Put the word of love into action.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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