Someone once wrote, "All is fair in love and war." I think we all can agree that true love often lies somewhere between perfect bliss and utter madness. We have all felt the butterflies in our stomach when we first met that special "soulmate," and we have all felt madness when the relationship was not going so well and began to unravel...
Yet for reasons surpassing understanding, we all held on, hoping to rekindle the love we once felt, only to end up on a collision course of emotion and sadness. What is finding one's Prince or Princess truly about?
I think young William and Kate have given us a modern, workable template from which we can learn some valuable lessons.
Flashback for a moment. I think any fair and objective view of Princess Diana and Prince Charles would have to say that they did try to make it work, but at some point love was just not there anymore, and they both knew they had to move on for the good of themselves and their children. The "fairytale" we all witnessed in 1981 became a soap opera drama for years, and ultimately a tragedy that ended with Princess Di's death in August 1997. It was one of those moments where we all know where we were when we heard the news. Very sad ending indeed.
We all remember the two young Princes walking behind her casket, Will with his head down, and Harry holding his father's hand. We all wondered how would they make it without their "Mum," but make it they did, and Charles deserves much of the credit for stepping up as a good dad, despite his own traditional rearing without his own "Mum" (the Queen) being there to play with, cuddle, and nurture him as Diana did for her sons.
Before we get into our final lesson, let's recap what we have covered so far in parts 1 and 2 of this series. In Part 1 we had two key takeaways: 1.) Fairytales do not come true. But true love based on mutual respect, and taking the time to get to know your mate can last and thrive forever. 2.) Look for good role models within your own community and family who have made love last, raised a family, stuck it out through the hard times, and kept romance alive. Talk to them, ask questions, and allow them to mentor you.
In Part 2 we discussed the main theme of "smart women have a strategy for love." There were two key takeaways: 1.) Make love as much as a priority in your life as your career success. Too many women are waking up at 35 or 40 and saying, "Oops, I forgot to get married and have kids." Do not buy into the myth that you can delay childbearing forever, you cannot. Yes, women do get pregnant in their early and even mid 40s, but not without great stress and challenge. And it is not the norm. You need a plan, and a vision for your love life, what you want, what you need, and also what you offer to your potential Prince.
2.) Marriage is all about having someone to share your life with. It ain't all about YOU. It is hard work, it is a journey. Marriage is also about fostering "family." We were put here by God to propagate the species — "be fruitful and multiply." Unfortunately, only about 30% of black Americans are married. We need to do better.
Now to our final takeaways from the royal wedding of William & Kate:
Takeaway #1: Make sure you know your mate and share common values: My dad told me once, "Opposites may attract, but likes last in love." Boy, was he right! Yes, we know that Will and Kate "shacked up" for a few years. And, one of the Bishops in England had to apologize to the then engaged couple when he made reference to their "living out of wedlock" last November. Let me be clear; I do not support living together. However, what we see in these two young people is that they "know one another" and that is key to any fulfilling union. There is no pretense, no subterfuge. They have matured together from age 20-29, they know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and they both know what lies ahead for them in terms of the monarchy. They both went in with their eyes wide open.
Takeaway #2: Understand Love and Marriage is a partnership: Back to point number one in this series. Too many of us get caught up into unrealistic fantasy and fairytales. Let me be clear here sisters — I am the biggest romantic on the planet. I love love; flowers, walks in the sunset, kissing in the rain, love letters, perfumed notes — you name it — but that does not make a relationship last. You need more. Marriage is a partnership. It is a commitment that you honor with all your heart. You can find a Prince, and he can find you if you go in knowing that true fulfillment is deeper than eros or sexual love — it is about emotional, spiritual, and committed love.
Sophia A. Nelson is the author of the forthcoming book, "Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama," in stores May 31st, 2011. See the June issue of Essence for a feature story on the author and book.