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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Love’s One of the Great Mysteries

July 17, 2008

By SALISBURY, Robyn

Is This the Real Thing? What makes mysterious love come to stay? – ——————- On overhearing that wedding plans for a British family cost (PndStlg)30,000, I found myself, again, wondering what does it take to make marriage work?

No doubt the newly-wed couple I heard about will want to believe that it has, for them. With such a huge financial investment, it’s likely that an obligation to remain committed also sits on their shoulders, too. One might ask whether this is such a bad thing. It seems marriage does not hold the same commitment as it did for earlier generations.

People have been trying to explain love and its mysteries for thousands of years. In the western world, current confusion about love comes from a wide range of misleading information. Love is so intensely celebrated that few people can grow up without longing to experience its highly advertised, full-blown version. Stories, music, the media and the magazines all use the term “falling” in love, as if it is something that we can’t control.

Even Shakespeare’s model of Romeo and Juliet – two 14-year-olds who would rather kill themselves than obey their parents – entertains us still! And how well that describes the feelings of enchanted love, or the spell that comes over us, when we find ourselves in love. It’s exciting, passionate and delicious, but it’s also amazingly irrational.

Unfortunately, many people who are caught in its spell are not necessarily good candidates for a long term relationship at that point in time. The “love potions” present in the body – PEA (phenoethalymine) and dopamine – create amazing feelings of passion energy and joy – but it is also reported that these love potions ALWAYS wear off. They can last anything from two minutes to two years – and just as well!

This all-consuming love is also a destructive kind of love. It messes up other area of our lives so that we ignore our friends, our job, our plans, our beliefs and other things that contribute to the richness of our lives. As George Bernard Shaw once said of such a love “can’t imagine anyone wanting such a debilitating emotion to last forever.”

But how do we know if this the “right” person? It’s all very well to talk about love in theory, but quite another thing when you are in love and trying to deciding on whether to make a serious commitment. What is it that will lead to marriage and ongoing security? How do you know if this is the real thing? Does falling in love necessarily mean that you are compatible?

Making a big decision when you are madly in love is risky when you remember how similar it is to the intoxification of drink or drugs. So perhaps the short answer to questions about commitment at this time – don’t!

When that first spell wears off and reality sets in, we can see more clearly and then decide if we want to move forward to with the relationship – or end it.

Sometimes the sexual aspect is the main element for the couple. The difficulty here is that strong lust can feel exactly the same as romantic love, and just as compelling. It’s common for a couple who are in love to move in together and this is seen as a stepping stone or a trial marriage, or even just like a marriage.

How long do you wait to decide whether to commit? There are so many opinions about this. The growth and progress of a relationship will require adjustments from you as a couple and as individuals, to major life events such as having children, moving home, parents dying. So it’s helpful to find out how you handle some problems before you make a lifetime commitment.

Unfortunately, sex and relationship therapists find that many couples embark on the most important relationship of their lives knowing so little about each other’s attitudes and experiences.

Some couples who have lived together for years can have talked as little about what they want from marriage as the couples who marry after a whirlwind romance. They assume that because they are living together that they must want the same things from life.

The following statements are made by different people about what they think marriage is about:

* A declaration to the world that you love each other and plan to stay together forever.

* The best kind of relationship in which to bring up children.

* A relationship within which it is possible to work through the bad times together so that the bond between you is strengthened.

* It’s for people who are in love and should be dissolved when they are no longer in love.

Four very different agendas . .what might yours be?

(c) 2008 Evening Standard; Palmerston North, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.