Married couples agree that falling in love and courtship make up about 10 percent of their relationship, while the vital 90 percent of the effort to ensure a successful, dedicated marriage is the work and commitment during the succeeding years.
In her book, ‘The Truth About Love’ Dr. Pat Love, a nationally known marriage and family counselor and relationship consultant, pinpoints what she calls the “love cocktail,” as the reason why people sometimes rush into a romantic relationship with seemingly little understanding of what they’re doing.
This love cocktail is produced naturally in our bodies when we meet someone we are attracted to and includes three major chemicals: phenylethylamine (a naturally occurring amphetamine-like neurotransmitter often abbreviated as PEA), dopamine and norepinephrine. Symptoms include a delightfully positive attitude, increased energy, decreased need for sleep, and loss of appetite.
Dr. Love maintains this maybe one reason why love has such a reputation for not being rational. She is convinced about half of marriages in advanced nations fail because so many couples don’t understand the natural phases a man and woman go through in marriage.
Dr. Love designates the first stage of love and marriage, appropriately enough, the infatuation stage. The second stage, the post-rapture stage, could be described as what happens when the initial euphoria wears off and reality sets in. The discovery stage follows, during which couples get to really know each other and have the opportunity to learn what true love is all about. Finally comes the connection stage, in which couples grow to true love and develop a giving, outgoing concern for each other.
The tragic mistake some couples make is thinking the end of one of the normal phases of a relationship is the end of one’s love for his or her partner, when that need not be the case at all. That’s why it’s crucially important spouses know what to do after they say, “I do”!
So what are some of the keys to building a strong and lasting relationship in marriage?
Put God first. Follow His instructions for developing good relationships and pray for His guidance and blessing on your marriage.
Realize honeymoon euphoria is not true love. When the infatuation stage is over, a husband and wife have an opportunity to work at their marriage, highlighting their mate’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
Get to know yourself and your partner. When the honeymoon wears off, you naturally begin to see one another’s faults. The wise take advantage of this and focus on meeting each other’s needs.
Be a good listener. Men should listen to their wives and let them communicate their thoughts and feelings. A wife should listen to her husband, because he needs reassurance he is taking care of his wife and the family.
Add humor to your marriage and learn to laugh at yourself.
Acknowledge when you’re wrong and don’t hesitate to apologize.
Always make up quickly. Never hold grudges.
Respect, don’t ridicule, your spouse. Ridiculing your mate will erode your marriage.
Banish “You always” and “You never.” They’re not accurate, and your mate won’t accept them. He or she will only dig in and resist.
Focus on strengths, not weaknesses.
The Father and Son constitute a family, but there’s more to this. In 2 Corinthians 6:18 we are told, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” To help us prepare for this wonderful future, God has given us the gift of marriage and family. A strong, respectful and loving marriage in this life gives us a foretaste of the loving and eternal relationships we will enjoy with the Father, Jesus Christ and the rest of God’s spiritual family in the future.
Good News Magazine