We get so excited at the 'beginnings' of relationships, on TV, in films, in songs, and often in real life. We glorify the 'first sight', the cat and mouse, the will-they-won't-they. That's why kids and YA stuff always introduce the the characters who are to fall in love (rather than introduce them as already a couple). When we're young, we're fascinated by the 'getting in' part of love. We assume the 'staying in' part comes naturally with the territory. 'Happily Ever After' is our first mental marker of 'successful' romantic relationships. We sometimes know it before we've learned to read. Find love, and you will be happy...forever, we train our subconscious mind to believe.
Real love isn't a perfectly coiffed leading man, realizing he's in love in the nick of time, and catching his leading lady at her airport gate (how does he get through security? It's a special movie airport!). Real love isn't always a tearful confession in the rain, a Jane Austen trope, or an iconic scene with Meg Ryan or Ryan Gosling or Rachel McAdams. Those scenes were expensively lit and caked in makeup and rehearsal, and they portrayed a tiny fraction of the whole picture.
Real, lasting love, isn't just fiery, against-all-odds chemistry. It's millions of minute, single moments in which you more often choose trust, appreciation, listening, and vulnerability. It's everything you loved about your first chunk of time together... evolved, deepened, charged. The butterflies from the beginning become less 'fluttery' and team up to form a smooth, baritone humming of deep gratitude, mixed with your own humble admittance of not being perfect, and desire to keep trying anyway. Love is lengthened and strengthened by a willingness to be truly present with each other and the ways you're both growing. Instead of making assumptions about how things will go down when certain discussions or events come up, you treat each moment with a little mindfulness. You're both always learning and adapting, often because of or aligned with each other, never stagnant.
I'm not an expert on this... I'm just observing the way love feels different to me these days. It feels like refreshingly honest feedback. It feels like being able to admit when I'm afraid. It feels like a million inside jokes. It feels like I'm supercharged over a long period of time, so the electricity is more subtle, though ever present. It feels like every day I learn more about myself and step toward a better version of that self. It feels like their every sound and hair and breath is familiar to me, and even more beautiful. It's like unexpectedly hearing the first 2 bars of a song I've stubbornly loved for so long... and smiling at what's to come.