If you have been following this series on MARRIAGE MYTHS, then I hope to have challenged your paradigm of couple functioning when it comes to compromise, making each other happy, and unconditional love. Now we come to the fourth myth in the series.
Marital Myth #4: All you need is LOVE
This is a very romantic idea, but it actually is a dangerous way to approach a marriage.The reality is that when people operate from this philosophy, they quickly find themselves becoming frustrated as they realize that love alone is simply not enough.
There is a concept we often refer to in couple relationships known as compatibility. In the therapy room, I often hear one or both parties express that they just “don’t think they are compatible.” What couples often don’t understand is the compatibility is not something that happens naturally, but it is something that is achieved.
And, in order to achieve it, we have to put in the work. Once compatibility is achieved, we have to continue to work throughout the life of the relationship to keep it stabilized. The marital relationship is constantly in a state of change. This means that as the relationship grows and develops over time, a couple has to continue to make changes and adjustments in their functioning in effort to make the marriage one of compatibility.
I like to think of the couple relationship as having two parts – Intimacy and Business. It’s important to remember about that these two parts sometimes overlap; and love exists in both. The intimacy part involves many labors that helps to grow the relationship in ways that strengthens love and commitment. Under this umbrella would include important efforts like deep conversations, playfulness, dating, sex, nurturing, faith sharing, and other efforts that helps a couple connect on emotional and spiritual levels. The business side of the couple relationship involves many structural elements to the system. This is the part that, when done well, provides the stability and security the relationship needs to allow intimacy grow and flourish. This involves things like financial planning, boundary setting, family decision-making, parenting decisions, household and job responsibilities, etc.
As you can see, LOVE is very important for marriages to thrive, but there is much more involved than merely “loving” one another. Love has to be put into action.
Try to think of love as the EMOTIONAL FEUL that runs the RELATIONSHIP VEHICLE.
What good is having a full tank of gas if you never drive the car? Love can exist without action, but when it does, it serves no real purpose. A relationship is meant to be put into motion; thus, when a couple finds themselves stuck and motionless, it is possible they are harboring their fuel out of fear they might run out of gas. I'll let you ponder on that picture (see my post on unconditional love where I discuss a "love deficit").
Therefore, in contrary to popular belief set forth by the Beatles in the late 60’s, “love” is NOT all you need. A couple has to be willing to drive the car. So, if you are feeling stuck in your marriage, don’t settle for staying that way. Find a relationship professional that help your marriage build momentum. God bless.