(Portions of this post, and others in this blog, are from my book New Earth Relationships – A Guide for Couples in the 21st Century ©2009 William S. Weil; All rights reserved)
I once heard Werner Erhard, the personal transformation guru of the 70’s and 80’s say something like “relationships are like mountain climbing – they’re not for most people.” That floored me. How can relationships not be for everybody, or at least “most people?”
My ex-wife and I were convinced we had an awesome, a forever, relationship. We wrote beautiful, deeply moving marriage vows and had a fabulous ceremony with hundreds of family members and friends present, all telling us what a wonderful couple we made.
We did have a wonderful relationship, and we knew it. What we didn’t know is that even the best relationships are full of potholes and landmines.
We thought that since our relationship started out great, we had the “magic.” Things would automatically stay great. Boy, were we wrong! We made the same mistake that countless other couples who start out with fabulous relationships make, and our relationship was tragically derailed in the first year. After 11 difficult years of trying to make it work, we divorced.
Perhaps you’ve been with the same person for a relatively short time. Perhaps things are great. Add some more years, kids, a mortgage, some pressures with your job, etc., temptations from other, more attractive people, and see where you are then. I’m not saying that yours isn’t the best relationship in the world. I’m just asking if you think you are immune to the realities that impact every couple around you. The fact is that if you think you have a better than one-in-ten shot, you are probably kidding yourself.
People in fresh, young relationships tend to be unrealistic at best, arrogant at worst. What are the odds that their level of happiness will last? Ten percent? Five percent? One in a hundred? With the divorce rate at 50% in the US, the odds just aren’t good. And remember that the 50% who stay together aren’t necessarily passionately, ecstatically in love. We all know people who stay together in dysfunctional, abusive, or dependent cycles and others who think any marriage is better than being alone. A small percentage of couples who stay together are in deeply loving and passionate marriages.
It’s common for people who have been in a happy relationship for less than a year or two to think they have it figured out. Typically they do not. Instead of watering the tree that is their relationship, they are picking the fruit. The tragedy is that at the very time when they might be developing skills to help them keep love and passion alive for the long haul, young couples are unconscious to what is, and is not, working. When the love finally dies, they figure it was either a) inevitable, b) the other person’s fault, c) that they just grew apart, or some other explanation. What they are left with is an explanation of why it did not work out. This will not serve them at all in their next relationship(s).
If you are happy now, now is the time to build the skills and tools for a long-term, loving, passionate, mutually-fulfilling relationship. If you are less than happy, then now is the time to begin to repair things.
Falling in love is one thing. To stay in love for the long haul you have to learn how to constantly and consciously “create” your love for one another. Sure it’s easy when you are first in love, but when that wears off, when the little things start to become big things, when you least expect it, that’s when you need a powerful habit of excellent communication to get things back on track.
The purpose of this blog, then, is to act as a kind of community to support couples in staying conscious, in helping to provide tools to enable couples to “create” their love for each other, and to be honest and open about what is and is not working.
What challenges have you overcome in your relationship? How did you do it? If you’ve found the secret to a many-year relationship, how do you keep love and passion alive?