“People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws?” -Elizabeth Gilbert
Myth #1: If we have fallen out of love, it means we can never get it back.
Far too often in my role as a psychotherapist, I have sat with couples in distress because one of them reports that he or she is no longer “in love”, and therefore must leave the relationship to find a more perfect love with someone else. Or the rejected partner tells the other to go ahead and leave, convinced that love, once lost, cannot be rekindled. How tragic that we have been so filled with images of romantic love that we think of it as something outside of our control. We wait for love, like a giant bird, to descend from some distant landscape and settle in our branches once again.
Myth #2: If we have fallen out of love, it means we married the wrong person.
This destructive myth makes many believe that love, once set into motion, will carry us along through the complexities of life, if only we are lucky enough, or if we choose the right person. Not so, since conflict, disagreement, hardship and misunderstandings are inevitable in every close relationship. To build a strong, lasting relationship, love is better thought of as a verb not a noun. Love is hard work and includes all of the ten keys described in How’s Your Family Really Doing? 10 Keys to a Happy Loving Family. This means learning things like how to listen deeply to one another, how to understand each other’s point of view, how to respect differences, argue constructively, and to forgive each other’s mistakes.
Myth 3#: If the romance and sex have disappeared, we should just accept the inevitable…the spark goes out over time.
If you talk to couples in long-term relationships–and I mean the ones who are still happy to be in them–they will tell you the same thing. Their love was not always a constant, but it was not in steady decline either. Feelings of love ebb and flow, with times of greater intimacy and connection interspersed with times of conflict and struggle.
Marriage does not kill romantic love unless you allow it to. A relationship is something you have to work at, and when you do, your love will more likely grow, deepen and mature. And as for sex, the vast majority of married couples have sex slightly more than once per week throughout the life of the marriage (more in the early years but still constant over time).
Read more: Debra Manchester MacMannis, PsychCentral