Love, as distinct from “being in love,” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit…
[You] can have this love for each other even at those moments when [you] do not like each other—as you love yourself, even when you do not like yourself.
“Love at first sight?”
It certainly feels that way. But attraction at first sight, maybe even lust at first sight, is probably more accurate! Mature and lasting love is a decision of the will, not just a feeling.
The experience of falling in love is a powerful connection, but it’s also a time-limited “high” because of changes in certain chemical levels in the brain. Most studies show that this “crazy in love” phenomenon begins to wane after about 1.5 to 2 years because these chemical levels return to normal.
The result? Well, the good news is we can actually resume a balanced approach to life now that we are no longer obsessed with each other, like we are when we are in our “newly in love” altered state. The bad news? We “wake up” and notice our partner has some flaws…and they notice the same about us! And we can begin to wonder if we made a big mistake to marry this person, when we start feeling annoyed with differences we now see.
Love is a learning curve.
Love that lasts requires learning how to love someone different from yourself. So if you are considering marriage, you are wise to seek premarital counseling to learn how to anticipate the likely areas where yours and your partner’s differences and flaws may potentially cause some disagreements and conflict. Understanding each other's expectations and needs from the families you grew up in also can help you develop the ability to soothe hurts and facilitate growth in each other and in the marriage.
I utilize several resources to help you learn more about one another and effectively equip you for marriage:
- PREPARE-ENRICH online assessment - custom tailored to your unique relational characteristics
- Gottman marital research findings - practical information about what makes marriages succeed and fail
- Imago assessment - addresses strength and weaknesses of your family of origin, your internal template for what love “looks like and feels like,” and your core needs and coping strategies
- Experienced interviewing and intervention skills – to help you develop needed skill sets for a successful relationship
Invest in the success of your relationship. Learn how to love knowledgeably and effectively so you can keep your romance growing for a lifetime!
Call Dr. Gerdes and schedule your appointment today.