Have you looked at your significant other lately and wondered, “Where did the romance go?” Maybe it was the day he was snoring in the recliner in front of the Sunday football game. Or maybe it was when she spent an hour on the phone giggling and gossiping, oblivious to your presence in the room. Maybe neither of you has washboard abs or killer legs anymore. Maybe her glorious red hair is almost white now. Maybe his thick black curls are only a fond memory. Maybe the last time you danced together was at your cousin’s wedding thirty years ago. Where DID the romance go?
When a couple first meet and are attracted to each other, each wants to put their best qualities up front. They dress carefully, they try to agree on most things, they use their best manners. In the passionate early stage of their relationship they can’t get enough of each other. The room lights up for them when they see each other. Every day they discover something new and endearing about each other. She hangs on every word he says He marvels at how interesting and exciting she is. They laugh at each other’s jokes.
These passionate feelings arise from the thrill of the unknown. The relationship is new. There is so much to discover about each other, so much to experience together. But after a while, the passion starts to lessen. They know each other pretty well. They know what to expect from each other.
If they get married or move in together, the passion flares again – the thrill of the unknown is back! What will the future bring? Where will their life together lead them?
And if they have a child, they set off on yet another happy journey into the unknown.
People experience these same feelings in other “unknown” situations as well. Think of how you felt when you landed your first job. You got it! You were actually earning money! You wanted to do your best! You enjoyed learning the new job! But as time went by, your boss was overbearing. You didn’t get paid enough. The job was boring. The thrill of the unknown was gone.
Do you need this “thrill” to have a strong relationship with your significant other? It doesn’t make sense, as the “thrill” will inevitably lessen as time goes by. When you know each other well, the good and the bad, and you have learned to get along, to forgive, to trust, to share your feelings, to support each other through all the ups and downs, you can relax and be yourselves, knowing you will always be there for each other. This is called companionate love. This is the “graduate degree” you get after the passionate thrills have evened out. And the room still lights up when you see each other.
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