If you grew up like many on a diet of fiction, romance and maybe a lot of Disney one of the things you might have been exposed to is notions of undying, unconditional romantic love. It is love according to such narratives that breaks curses, it is love where people find healing and solace and it is love that overcomes all.
Even a lot of the music we listen to today (and have for decades past) seems to harp on about this powerful (and dare we say unreal) brand of love. It’s no wonder that when it comes to finding a life partner, many of us feel that love is enough to carry things forward and see them through.
The question; is love enough to see a marriage through?
Let’s Talk Love for a Minute
People have struggled to understand what love is for centuries and everyone from poets and philosophers to behaviorists and psychiatrists have had a crack at it. An article in the Psychology Today online publication on love stated that for the most part, “love” is a blanket term we used to cover and describe numerous human behaviors.
Another thing to remember is that in many cases, we mistake infatuation for love. Those lightning bolts and butterflies you feel when you run into someone even if you hardly know them? That’s biological attraction and infatuation more than anything else! Love in actuality if you must define it is a lot less dramatic and a lot more robust!
For the sake of clarity; let’s just say the love we’re talking about here is the deep rooted care and affection. This is the same as that which you feel for a child, a parent, a close friend, a partner or even an ex who you have grown close to.
So Is Love Enough?
Now that we have that bit clear, maybe ask yourself. Is love alone enough to make you a good friend, child, parent or partner? If there is something you love doing, does that automatically make you good at it? The answer; no, it does not.
If Not Love, What Then!?
You may be wondering what if not love is enough to see a marriage through. Though love might be the heart or root of a marriage, it takes a little more to make sure the marriage in question is healthy and works for both parties concerned.
Open communication and the ability to do so is one of the things needed to make any marriage work. If a couple stops communicating, rest assured that is a sign of relational deterioration.
You sometimes have abusive partners claiming to have done things out of “love”. This is not love; rather control. Healthy marriages however require mutual respect. This includes respect for your partner’s wishes, their individuality, their space and their sensitivities among other things. If you don’t have respect for your partner, loose notions of love won’t do much.
Willingness to Work
Even the best relationships come to hard points and stages where one or both partners need to put in a real effort to move things along or help things become unstuck. One of the biggest factors that may help relationships work and thrive is when both partners are on the ball and willing to put in the work needed.
This means learning, this means compromise and this means taking ownership for ones flaws and being receptive when blind spots are pointed out.
Trust is something without which a marriage might as well not be called one. If you can’t trust your spouse, what exactly are you standing on?
Intellectual and emotional compatibility are two of the things that could turn a simple relationship into a life commitment like marriage. Further, those are also two of the things that really help keep a relationship afloat.
If you notice some of the healthiest couples around you, there aren’t always the ones with the fieriest stories of how they met. In most cases, they are the ones that grew together and get along like the best of friends! Compatibility is what helps us really bond when the initial sparks of infatuation die down.
We could really go on and on but the question seems to have answered its self. Love alone is not enough to see a relationship through and as you can see, there is a whole lot else that goes into it! The good news; if you feel you’ve hit a rocky place in your marriage or simply want to work around some obstacles with your partner, marriage counseling can be extremely helpful!
If you’re located in Palo Alto or the Bay Area and are looking for a couple therapist offering couple counseling to both heteronormative and same sex couples as well as other options such as family meditation, feel free to get in touch with us!