Falling Out of Love
Plus: The Secret of a Happy, Lasting Marriage
By: J. Marlando
We read a lot about falling in love but how about falling out of love? This happens everyday and either unhappy relationships drag on or separation and family breakup follows. Falling OUT of love
Certainly there are a great many marital relationships that begin "out of love" in any case. That is, a great many people fall in lust and interpret those strong feelings with love. It is probably safe to say that most of us have done that at least once or twice in our lives. I have...at least prior to my own marriage, My own marriage is now almost in its 37th year. There's been a few times that we've been unloving to one another but we've never been out of love with one another.
This article will strive to explain why couples fall our of love and how to avoid that sad situation.
Understanding Falling In Love
There are exceptions of course but most everyone who weds, marries with deep feelings of attachment and devotion. These are components of love but not love itself. Indeed, the very act of marrying someone is to have anticipations and expectations. These are absolutely NOT elements of love or loving. They are concepts of what the future is going to bring; what life in one's tomorrows to come will be like but love, in order to be real, is unconditional. Unconditional love between a man and woman most typically takes many years of togetherness and caring. Most commonly the loving between couples does not really start until after the experience of actually facing the trials and tribulations of life together. (Most likely why the traditional vows talk about richer and poorer, sickness and health).
Especially young people will not like to read this because they are, like most of us once were, romantics.
This is not by accident at least in the western cultures. We are raised to find that special one by battle-scarred parents, teachers and preachers who romanticize mating and nesting. In my own culture, the U.S., the latest count I found was that there were 1,714,643 births by unwed mothers reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, and that 48% of them were teens.
That makes for a prediction of a lot of unhappy children to say the least not to mention sour relationships between a great count of mommies and daddies. Nevertheless, the trumpets keep blowing for finding that perfect mate and living the fairy tale.
Young people fall in love for a lot of the wrong reasons: They want to grow up and have lives of their own. (They believe marriage will magically deliver this...it never does). They misinterpret those loving feelings for love itself. We need not mention the term lust again, let's face it, especially young people are frisky. ..or, now pay attention here, they actually experience a deep devotion and desire for the other, Well, what's wrong with that?
The problem with that is that when we are mating and dating there comes a time when we lose sight of the other and begin projecting our own personalities on them. That is, we create them into perfect images of our own shadow selves.
What does this mean?
Every male has a femaleness inside him just as every female has a maleness inside her.
When we take husband or wife home, we soon enough discover that he or she is NOT like ourselves at all but are far more like themselves. In many instances this is when "falling out of love" begins. Hey, I thought I knew my Jack or Jill fully but he (or she) seems so much like a stranger now. Who the heck did I marry anyway?
This is why experts used to call the first three years of marriage a trial period. If a marriage makes it the first three years it has a chance of making it a lifetime. (And yes, I am well aware that some marriages work from the start and some folks divorce after twenty years but these relationships represent the exception and not the rule).
Falling in love and staying in love is a process that not only takes time but effort. There is simply no two-peas-in-a-pod marriage. Husband or wife or both making lots of compromises to make the committed relationship work. This is what young people should be taught instead of all the clank and clatter about the enchantments and magic of married life. All the good stuff, the very joy and happiness of marriage is a building process that most commonly endures everything from money challenges to health issues in a maze of ups, downs and turnarounds. And, indeed, marriage is about two imperfect people trying to make it together in a very imperfect world.
Falling OUT of Love
What most of us don't know or at least don't consider is that that we do not truly know the person we marry (until years after we have wed them). Indeed, our Jack or Jill during the wooing period have been far more reflections of how we have mirrored them than how they really are. There are reasons for this: First of all traditional husbands and wives are different genders. Different genders have different values, different world views, different priorities and so forth. The most accurate value given males and females is that they are equal but...different.
These gender differences are difficult adjustments that most people have to make when living daily with their mates. These can be very small and even petty. For example, she might believe that pets do not belong on the furniture, while he believes that it's just fine. Even a small issue like this can add to stress between a couple. And of course, there may be bigger issues such as one is quite neat and the other isn't. Add these kinds of compromises every marital relationship demands to financial challenges and the ordinary stresses of daily life and it is common for husbands and wives to take these frustrations out on each other in any number of ways. These ways can include plain, old crankiness to long silences and simple bad moods, screaming and/or crying; banging fists against walls, slamming doors, etc. The impact of these seemingly insignificant responses can add up and surface when more serious problems arrive. Who wants to be with a mate that is seen as irrational?
We need not go into the married couple that respond to life's disappointments and agitations equally as irrational to imagine what their togetherness must be like.
There is also the point that life seldom delivers everything or even just about everything that we individuals want or desire. And anyway, if lots of money secured a happy, lasting marriage there would be no rich people divorcing.
Everyone knows that when we are dating most everyone is on their best behaviors; we are nearly always understanding, tolerant and supportive. For most this changes after marriage at least to one degree or another. This is a major reason why so many people fall out of love with their spouses. Each feel that they are the same but their mates have changed.
What grows out of this belief, at least for a great many couples, is that one begins wanting to change the other. If he or she would only change our life and marriage would be so much better.
This can be the beginning of the end. The moment one decides that in order "save" the marriage and turn it into happiness, the other needs to change is to place blame on the other. This is not only a self-indulgent view but an unloving view. (The only way to create positive change in a relationship is to make them in oneself. We cannot "change" our mates we can only change ourselves. The old adage about judging others applies here: First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye).
A big part of falling out of love is when we begin thinking that by getting away and being by one's self or with someone else, life would be easier, happier and more fulfilling. As a result we ask, what happened to all that devotion and all those loving feelings of pre and early marriage?
The truth is when once there was sincere caring about one's mate and that caring has turned into angers and resentments we have typically forgotten to love the other and have fallen into the trappings of self-absorbing attitudes. In this view we can ALL sing that old meaningful lyric: I didn't promise you a rose garden.
With only this much in mind, we can continue on to the next section.
Aspects of Loving
We have talked a lot about our differences in the above and certainly we are different from our spouses: We have been raised by different parents, treated differently by our societies, raised in different places with different values and our genders have different demands since our different physical bodies dictate different priorities. All this is very true and yet, these differences are merely apparent. At the same time we are very much the same!
The easiest examples of this sameness include the observations that we (men/women, husbands/wives) bleed when we are cut, feel pain when we are hurt, endure the same lump in our throats when we are sad and our laughter is just as joyous, our fears as strong, our hopes and dreams equally valid, our love as deep and our tears as salty; we both need encouragement and support. While our responses to these human experiences may not be the same, the experiences themselves are in overview. Indeed, as we have already seen, our outward maleness is balanced with our inner-femininity if we are male. Our outward femaleness is balanced with out inner-masculinity if we are female. As a result, we "bind" with these qualities when we choose to be mates
The problem is that seldom are the anima (female psyche/male) and "animus (male psyche/female) ever compatible. A major reason for this is because we ordinarily project our other-gender-personality onto our mates and when they end up being solely their own personalities we are disappointed. We might even howl, but I thought you were my soul mate...a reflection of all that I would be if I were you.
Soon enough our individuality is exposed after a period of time of married life. When this happens and it happens to all of us, the period of adjustment begins or, in other words, we begin learning to live with one another. This learning to share life with our spouse can be demanding and challenging calling for compromise after compromise. When the marriage is based on a weak commitment, it will typically "fall apart" at this juncture of the relationship. However, when the marriage is based on a strong commitment, this is the juncture that the (real) loving begins.
The (real) loving realizes the most basic commitment to the other and so to the marriage itself. Karl Menninger summarized this fundamental commitment when he said: "It is part of the function of marriage for the partners to supply to each other that amount of support and encouragement which is necessary to assuage the wounds and frustrations in the daily lives of each."
When we are willing to do only this much, the loving one for the other begins to unfold in both words and actions. We become mindful of the others needs, desires, thoughts and feelings. We stop judging the other by ourselves and begin seeing the other as wholly themselves. In the doing, we stop the nonsense of wanting out mates to reflect our own worldviews and open ourselves to their realities. Not only do each of us see the world differently but we experience the world differently too. (This is why it becomes extremely important to really listen to one another with caring ears; an act of loving in itself).
In this light, there are always three questions to be answered when it comes to establishing a solid, loving relationship:
1. What do you want and care about?
2. What do I want and care about?
3. What do we want and care about?
These questions are independent of each other and should never be weaved together because when they are, they can only be a trouble-maker for the marital relationship. The moment that we believe that our own wants and desires should establish the marriages wants and desires, only unhappiness and frustration can follow. Question number "3" builds a strong marriage but questions "1" and "2" builds a strong relationship. A truly loving marital relationship should never be confused with the marriage as they are distinct one from the other!
This distinction is vital to creating an environment of love one for the other. Another way of looking at this is to say that we are NOT our finances, our wealth or poverty, our big house on the hill or our cracker-box house in the valley. Our marriage are these things but NOT our marital relationship. I will repeat this: Our marriages are these things but NOT our marital relationship. This is why I have preached for so many years that married couples must learn to fight their problems instead of each other.
Food for thought.
Practicing a Loving, Lasting Marriage
Lasting, loving marriages do not simply happen. And, as long as we think that the responsibility for making the marriage lasting and loving belongs to our mates, we will most certainly end up with a failed marriage no matter how long it lasts.
Remember that some couples end up living unhappily ever after.
Unhappiness in a marital relationship is composed by one mate or the other (or both) just as happiness is. In fact, happiness and unhappiness are not necessarily the result of conditions but rather of projections. How we project the world, the world becomes. I have a metaphor for this that I've written many times: If you deem the rose bush a thorn bush, that is exactly what it will become for you. Deem your marriage frustrating and terrible, your mate difficult and demanding and see what happens. Indeed, there is a certain "magic" to this since even if your mate can be difficult and demanding, deem him or her, wonderful and lovely and see what happens. (We will point out that we treat "difficult and demanding" much differently than we treat "wonderful and lovely).
As a quick aside, since some people reject the term "magic," I will explain that what I mean is that how we project our world, our world becomes. To me that, in the least, is a little magical; the idea that we change our world when we change our minds.
To practice a loving, happy marriage one must practice:
Thee are the necessary (daily) qualities that constructs a strong and meaningful marital relationship. Anything short of these five practices will deconstruct the very foundation of a loving, happy marriage. Indeed the four cornerstones of building a lasting marital relationship are:
1. Loving affection (Being Affectionate).
2. Encouragement (Being Encouraging and Supportive)
3. Service (Being an Ally as well as a Lover)
4. Caring (Being concerned and conscientious)
When we decide to make these responsibilities to our mates our own, putting action to our words, we necessarily manifest both joy, contentment and greater passions for life and living it with the person we're with.
When the person we're with becomes the object of our unconditional love we have created a marital relationship that creates the togetherness that we most desired when we first walked down the isle with that significant other. Just keep in mind, it is not the life that blossoms from the marital relationship we have, it is the life that we build through our own desires and efforts. Love, after all, only has the meaning that we give it. As long as it is conditional it is not really love at all.
As the reader can see, love and marriage are far more complicated than any of us are taught. The psychological challenges alone are mountainous. If love and marriage was what the myths tell us they are, there would be no falling out of love. Sure, in extreme conditions such as verbal and physical violence, the victim must and should back away from such harmful relationships. On the other hand. "falling out of love" because life simply doesn't unfold as it was once thought that it would, is egocentric at the best. The first obstacle to cross when it comes to staying together, is wanting to stay together.
No matter how we humans love to believe we make sacrifices, unless we have a gun at our heads, we ONLY do what we choose to do. We are indeed all victims or victors of our own decision making. Marriage is big decision and much more than merely agreeing to join in a committed relationship. It is a commitment to work, build and bring harmony to that relationship amidst the strain and struggles of life's daily challenges.
We have seen in the above what makes us different from our mates is only apparent. Yet, these apparent differences are enough to create great gaps between husbands and wives who especially believe that their mates and so their marriages should give them happiness. And so, when marriage doesn't bring happiness, they begin retreating from their commitment; they fall OUT of love and move on or...live "amply" ever after.
One of the most devastating, trouble-makers of marriage is when one mate believes the other is responsible for their happiness. This, in any degree or form, is destructive to any marriage based on misconception. Happiness NEVER arrives from the outside, only the inside. While we can CHOOSE to be happy, no one ever gives anyone else happiness. This is a self-inflicted myth that causes a lot of misery for a lot of people.
Obviously these subjects can continue on into volumes but hopefully enough has been said to inspire at least some reader to stop falling out of love and start loving the one they're with.
Finally, there is a great secret to building and maintaining a wonderful, constructive and positive marital relationship. It is a most simple instruction, that works for any committed couple who truly wants to have a lasting relationship. and that "secret" is, to simply remember to always be nice to one another.
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