Dr. R.L. Smith describes it best. Romantic love is the only life state that triggers the same intense need for completeness and connectedness that we experience as children. We all seek to find that perfect state of acceptance and safety and are unconsciously drawn to the mate who matches those longings. These strong feelings can block out rational thought.
Marriage is for grown-ups. Being a grown-up means being able to appreciate that what we may initially be attracted to in a partner doesn’t always translate into what we wish to live with for the rest of our lives. Mature love requires a deeper sense of who we are and who we’re marrying. When the emotions that produces the strong passion begins to fade, it’s not uncommon for partners to become disillusioned with each other, often despising the very qualities they once loved and admired. This is the beginning of the power struggle, and it looks something like this:
“I love her generosity….now I hate that she’s always running off to take care of other people.”
“I love that he is so quiet and serious….now I wish he would be more talkative around our friends and just lighten up.”
“I love how professionally accomplished she is….now I wish she was more domestic and not such a workaholic.”
“I’m touched by how loving he is towards his mother….now I wish he wouldn’t have to call her so much.”
“She always looks fantastic….now I wish she wouldn’t spend so much money on clothes and make-up.”
“He is always so romantic and a wonderful lover….now I wish he’d stop pushing for the issue of sex.”
The first half of the statement is made under the influence of the emotions and passion of being in love. The second half of the statement comes after the high has worn off and their unresolved issues from childhood have popped back into the forefront. Both the infatuation and the power struggle have their sources in unfinished business from childhood.
I believe that most marriages can work if people will show up not just for the wedding but for the marriage and be committed to growing up. You can stand at the alter and tell the truth about what your intending, and you can continue to tell the truth over the course of your marriage. But if you struggle to look at life and romance through eyes of a grown-up then your idea of love and marriage is just a fantasy. These fantasies seem like wonderful ideas, but are actually remnants of childhood insecurities. Be sure to find out if you are ready for mature love, because marriage is for grown-ups.