It's talking it out when you'd rather give each other the silent treatment. It's listening to the other side of the story when you believe yours is the only valid perspective.
It's holding hands and hugging it out after an argument. It's hanging on for dear life when you go through emotional hell and feel totally beside yourself.
It's finding time for each other at the end of the day, when you're feeling fraught and spent and just want to read a book or scroll through your phone.
It's putting away your phone.
It's not hiding things on your phone.
It's being together in the same room even when you feel galaxies apart. It's building a bridge between hurt feelings and new beginnings even though it's so, so hard.
It's having fierce conversations that feel like therapy sessions. It's saying all the stuff that's been festering in your head for months. It's getting it all out so you can authentically go on.
It's sitting together in the darkness and letting it wash over both of you until a speck of light appears.
A fractured heart glowing in the dark.
A spark of hope.
It's moving toward new starts and mutual forgiveness.
Real love is a daily choice. A conscious commitment. Not using the exit clause when things get tough or you're just tired of dealing with it.
It's being open to the possibility of falling in love not once, but many times with your partner, as you both grow and evolve and become different versions of yourself.
It's being there in sickness and in health. It's being mindful of balancing who does what in the house. Doing your share. Helping out.
It's not putting everything on your partner's plate. It's not being surprised when they turn out to be human and start to break.
It's dealing with depression, anxiety, anger and biploar disorder. It's being patient when chronic pain tries to come between you. It's talking your person down when they are a natural worrier.
Real love is wonderful and natural, but sometimes it's pretty damn awful. It demands you reveal all your invisible wounds and scars. It's admitting your frailty and faults, and all the shit in your past you haven't addressed yet.
It's about consciously maintaining your bond and keeping your relationship strong, even when the storms swirl in and your roof is leaking and you discover you have a shaky foundation.
Real love includes rages, arguments and disagreements. It also brings to light any jealousy and insecurities.
But it's how you make your partner feel better that matters. What you do to make amends. How you try and capture the desire and romance again, so you don't end up just being roommates or friends.
It's loving someone at their worst and cradling them at their weakest. It's listening when they don't deserve it, witnessing their pain and acknowledging your own part in it.
It's remembering why you fell for each other in the first place, before kids, marriage, mortgages and play dates.
It's looking into each other's eyes and still seeing your person, the one being on this planet that you want to go through this wild adventure with.
It's a hand on your lower back. Being considerate. Swallowing the petty things. Accepting where you are on your relationship map.
It's welcoming your love's hand over yours and pledging your commitment all over again. It's vowing to do your best as you jump eyes open and fingers crossed into the unknown.
Real love. It's difficult. It's worth it. It's a choice.