The oldest challenge
“Love is no assignment for cowards” – Ovid
The opening quote was penned by the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso who, these days, is more commonly known as Ovid. He reached high acclaim in his day along with his older contemporaries Virgil and Horace.
Unfortunately, as was known to happen in ancient times, Ovid was exiled to a remote province on the Black Sea, by Caesar Augustus. He was never given any reason and was left there for the rest of his days to speculate on which of his writings was the cause of Caesar’s wrath.
Fortunately, along with other of his writings, this quote survived; indicating that love has been a challenge for the human race for several millennia.
Love, and loving relationships, are well-known to be nothing short of challenging for many. To say that it has been the subject of countless authors, poets, and artists of all kinds, would be a gross understatement. But why does it continue to elude, avoid, and escape far more people than those it has blessed by its presence?
Ovid’s quote provides us no insight; it’s more of a warning than a remedy. But he should not be frowned upon. Far greater minds devoted their lives to finding an answer yet none of them ever provided a surefire elixir for this quandary.
With all due respect to those artists, philosophers, religious leaders, I do not believe there ever will be a magic potion or secret formula which universally will unravel this mystery.
This, however, is not a reason to give up on your own journey.
Love – and especially the kind in intimate relationships – has a different meaning and purpose for each person. Complicating matters more is that no two relationships will experience love in the same way.
Humans are a complicated manifestation of physical parts, emotional feelings and circumstantial events. It only stands to reason that when another complex element such as love is added to the mix, it exponentially confounds the situation.
What may be helpful in finding what works for your particular situation is to determine what love means to you, and just as importantly, what it means for everyone involved.
One of the biggest obstacles many face in understanding and achieving what they perceive as love, is what they are told love is “supposed” to be. Although a good love story portrayed on the big screen can be entertaining and inspiring, some people will attempt to measure their own relationships to these fantasies and when they fall short, believe they’ve failed.
The other trap which ensnares many is they believe having and loving someone will change everything. While good relationships are transformative, it is not the solution in and of itself. Believing that “the right person” is the magic remedy is often more a recipe for failure.
Love, and loving relationships, succeed when they are mutually beneficial. The idea that one person is the catalyst to magically make the relationship work and bring you happiness, will ultimately lead to some kind of difficulty, distrust, or dissenting conclusion. No matter how dynamic a person is, the knight in shining armor is also best left in fairytales.
Ovid stated that one should not be cowardly. But what he also said, which I believe slips past most peoples’ perception, is that it is an “assignment.” Love takes work. And the more importance and meaning a relationship has, the more effort will be required.
All too often, love is portrayed as smooth sailing with no problems whatsoever. While these are the ingredients of a good romance novel, it is hardly the reality. One of my favorite expressions is, “If you are not having problems in your relationship, then there’s a good chance that there’s a problem.”
By no means am I insinuating that love and problems are synonymous; but we are all unique and are bound to have disagreements. If one person always succumbs to the wants and needs of the other, it is not a relationship but more of a boss-employee type situation.
Problems are not a sign of failure; they are an indication of differences. When relationships learn to deal with them, each person gets a greater understanding of the other. Just as we tackle a problem at work and become a better person, the same is true for relationships.
Will there be challenges, sacrifices, mistakes, or arguments? Of course. But those are also opportunities for love to grow. When love is mutual, we want the other person to grow, develop and succeed just as much as we want it for ourselves. Both celebrate the success of each other since it frequently occurs because of the sacrifice of the other.
If I may be so bold as to add to Ovid’s quote, “Love is no assignment for cowards but those who endure will be greatly rewarded.”
In the next few months, I’ll be completing a workbook on toxic relationships: why they occur and how to overcome them. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me directly.
My thanks to Ricardo Moura on Unsplash for the fitting photograph. To read more articles about personal development and emotional healing follow VictoriousStruggle on Facebook and my WordPress blog. Thank you and I look forward to your comments.