Valentine’s Day represents a day to swoon over love as well as indulge in yummy chocolates.
The first stage of romantic love begins when we finally meet someone we ‘click’ with. It is sheer joy brought on by a potent mix of endorphins. The initial three to six months of a relationship is wonderful, easy and breezy.
A heady cocktail of adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin lead to viewing our beloved as “perfect.” When we are ‘under the influence’ we project our idealized version of everything we want onto the other person. The world seems brighter, as Frank Sinatra sings: ” Like painted kites, those days and nights, they went flying by. The world was new beneath the blue umbrella skies.” We seem like we’re better people and this is because our beloved brings out the very best in us. Enjoy this time, for it is special and magical !
The second stage of romantic love is based on physics – “the higher you fly, the further you fall”. When was Brad Pitt replaced by Charlie Sheen ?! Being blindsided by reality isn’t so much fun. At this point, we notice all of the flaws of the other person that we had so successfully ignored before. We discover that our amores are *GASP* human… we question whether this is the right person for us. We realize that we are two different people with different tastes, beliefs and perceptions. This phase generally brings up our first conflicts.
If we still like each other, despite our respective flaws, the relationship moves towards a long term commitment like marriage. Frequently, we view our wedding as what our marriage will be like. We don’t think about the morning after and after and after. We get the message from the media that we will get married and live happily ever after. Unrealistic expectations abound as a result : our spouse will change/stay the same, we will never disagree or fight and if he/she really loves us they’ll know what we want and need. Even if our parents were like The Costanzas , our marriage will be the exception.
For a marriage to be happy and healthy; we must put time, effort and energy into working on it.
Guidelines for sustaining good relationships :
1. Be direct in stating your wants, needs and expectations to your partner.
2. Know yourself and your own feelings/reactions.
3. Be able to understand that you and your spouse might not share the same perception of events.
4. Honor your significant other by listening to him/her.
5. Be able to discuss emotionally-laden topics with one another.
6. See compromise as a positive way to resolve conflict.
7. Accept accountability for your own actions and apologize as needed.
8. Verbalize appreciation when your beloved helps out with chores, even if he/she doesn’t do it the way that you would.