How to make Love Grow, instead of Shrink

I consider myself quite the Love expert these days having weathered not only one but two marriages. Being a research minded person, a history major in college, I decided to delve into all things matrimonial after my second husband left. I wanted to know why some ladies, who are certainly no smarter than me, no prettier, nor any more intelligent have loving supportive husbands. If you have ever thought it "must be nice" to be a pretty girl, open your eyes and take a good look around. Chances are the friends you know as hot as models are single. Good to any church and you will see the couples who have been married forty years or more are no better looking than you are. So as far as what makes a marriage work, scratch looks off of your list. IT is a nice thing to use what God gave you. A warm and authentic smile and a put together outfit will get you date number one, sustaining a relationship takes a little more.

While we are on the subject of my experience which qualifies me to disperse this information I want to put out an absolute disclaimer here regarding narcissists. IF you are dating one of these, all my advice is null and void. My first husband was a diagnosed bona fide narcissist. That was why dealing with him was so difficult. He really wasn't able, bless his heart, to see anything from anyone else's point of view. His own ego was so fragile, he was unable to adjust to new information if someone called him on his stuff or made requests of him. My second husband, while not a bona fide narcissist, displayed narcissistic personality traits after his drug addiction hijacked his personality. Once again, don't expect a narcissist to be able to adapt to married life. They will never respond to stimuli in the same vein as a normal person. And as far as character flaws go, even if you are licensed therapist, it is a very very hard personality disorder to treat. So don't play Dr. Phil. IF your mate seems deaf to your pleas, just say "next" and find another partner.

Americans, I have noticed, have a knee jerk aversion to the idea of arranged marriages. Which, by the way, are still common in many parts of the world. Americans suppose that the marriage is arranged with hell as a goal, which isn't true. Partners are matched to the best of the ability of the personalities involved and here is the very interesting thing. After five years of marriage most Indian couples in arranged marriages report the same level of happiness in their love life as Americans who have had romantic matches. After ten years, the arranged marriages report a much higher level of satisfaction! How can this be? A number of factors play into this really basic concept.

Factor number one, is the mistaken American belief that love has to wear off. That the infatuation stage is some how the most desirable, and of course that stage will not last forever. I have issue with the first assumption. My second husband quit having interest in me sexually from the day we said "I do." When I questioned him on this he replied that, "everyone loses interest after getting married. It's 'natural.'" I had my doubts that it went completely to zero on day one, so I continued to press the issue. He was fundamentalist Christian so he asked his pastor to explain to me the error of my ways. The pastor, of course agreed with him, and took me to task for putting so much value on sexual expression. In an arranged marriage partners mostly enter as virgins. Few partners EXPECT sexual expression to lessen after marriage, after all in India, being married is the only acceptable way to receive sex – so no, no one expects sex to stop and if anything they eagerly expect it to continue.

My friend explained it this way: American allow themselves every freedom in the world as single people. Getting married signifies nothing but constraint. All of a sudden you are limited to only one partner. Thus marriage is a douse of cold water. In other parts of the world people are basically treated as children in society until they get married. Marriage represents endless splendid possibilities. This is one reason why divorce rates are so much lower in other parts of the world.

Another reason why love grows AFTER a marriage is because in an arranged marriage people admit to themselves they are marrying a relative stranger. They put authentic effort into getting to know each other as well as learning to function together. Americans, conversely pretend they know each other and act surprised the first time their loved one does anything unpleasant. So much money is spent on white dresses and flowers and cake a ceremony – by the time you say "I do" people feel like they're done. They don't want to spent another moment of their time getting to know the other person. It's sad. When I suggested to my first husband we spend an hour a week together doing something he said he didn't have 'time' for that.

I suggest if you want love to grow after you are married you make some time for that. And once you learn something about your partner, use that information to make your lives together sweeter. For example, pick up stuff at the grocery store you know your mate likes. Arrange the bed, the house, the colors of the décor to make your partner comfortable. Take the time to look nice for each other. Be considerate. Be honest about your feelings and needs. IF you want affection, ask for it, and say thank you when you receive it. It will set up a cycle of gratitude reciprocation. People like to do things that they get acknowledged for, and dislike being nagged.