Helping singles to find each other is our aspired-to competency, helping couples to maintain their relationship is perhaps that of marriage counselors. Again, we are dating or courtship coaches only, and we are happy to excel at that one task. Still, we hope that couples get married, start a family, and tango forever.
Romantic love may kindle an intimate relationship, but the romance will rarely last forever — no matter what Hollywood wants its consumers to believe. The romance will come down to earth; and when it does, possibly after a year or so, a more mature and stable love may develop in the relationship.
Passion and friendship can get along very well in the long run, so don’t be afraid of romantic love being just a dangerous mirage. It isn’t necessarily so. Give romantic love a chance, but know that there is more to life than being in love. Living is an act, and so is loving.
Marriage is really the proper foundation for having and raising children. I would not have wanted to grow up with just a single parent, or having had to deal with parental divorce. Luckily, I did not have to.
A Word in Support of Attachment Theory
Having said that, I would like to bring to my readers some attention to the wisdom of Attachment Theory. Attachment theory concerns itself with intimate relationships between humans. The most important tenet is that young children need to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for normal social and emotional development.
Attachment theory, initially studied in the 1960s and 1970s primarily in the context of children and parents, was extended to adult relationships in the late 1980s.
So, I am not a certified psychologist or therapist, but find it worthwhile to point out to my readers that Attachment Theory may have much to contribute to our awareness as relationship partners, especially in dating or courtship.
My own attitude towards women, I reckon, is so much conditioned by my perception as a child of my mother. This blog isn’t a place for a long exhortation of my psyche, of course. But allow me to say that as a boy, I admired my mother. To this day, I do not wish to see women suffer under the oppression of a patriarchal society that treats them unfairly as auxiliaries to men.
Relationship Maintenance is Key to Happiness
As we said before, intimate relationships are like balancing acts. Most marriage counselors say that maintaining stability and quality in a relationship are keys to success in conjugal relationships. The partners need to continuously examine behaviors that are linked to relational satisfaction and other indicators of quality.
We like to point to five great strategies for maintaining quality in a relationship:
- be joyful and optimistic, do not unnecessarily criticize each other;
- provide assurances of one’s commitment to the relationship and love of the other;
- be honest with one another and openly talk about what each needs and wants in the relationship;
- make efforts to involve each’s friends and family in activities small and large;
- complement each other’s needs by participating in the daily work of the other.
Many of my acquaintances from church recommend the work of American physiologist John Gottman, best known for his research on marital stability. Gottman emphasizes behaviors that determine whether or not a couple gets divorced in that he identifies the elements it takes for relationships to last. There are nine components of what Gottman calls The Sound Relationship House, from partners making mental maps of each other’s world to learning how to break through relationship gridlock.
All worthwhile perusing, even if you are with Mr. Right or Ms. Perfect.