How Love Grows and Dies
How Love Grows and Dies
By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
If divorce were a disease, we would be in the midst of an
In any given year, there are half as many divorces in Montana
as marriages while the national yearly divorce rate is about forty percent.
In addition, there are probably many couples who are unhappily married but stay
together for a variety of reasons - for the sake of the children, fear of loneliness
and the unknown, economic insecurity and fear of failure - so it would seem
that the odds of finding marital happiness are not exactly favorable. People
should realize this before they marry so that they are aware that successful
marriages don't just happen without effort.
Love begins when two people spend time together, learn and
accept more about each other, and share more fun and pleasure with each other.
It grows to the extent that they reward each other or fulfill each other's needs.
The more pleasure and satisfaction each partner gives to the other, the stronger
becomes the bond between them.
Since it involves the sharing of many rewarding and pleasurable
experiences, love takes time to develop. Infatuation is simply a strong sexual
attraction that should not be mistaken for love. It can become love but not
without time and mutual need fulfillment.
Love dies when two people cease to reward each other or
to meet each other's needs, when they give each other no pleasure or more pain
than pleasure. Several factors account for this diminution of love.
First and probably most important, people's needs change.
If the marital partners are unable to change to meet each other's changing needs,
or are unaware of such changes, the marriage may be headed for trouble.
For example, the sexual needs are probably strongest at
the beginning of the marriage but become less important with the passage of
the years. Later in the marriage, the need to be economically secure, or to
have a smoothly functioning household, or simply to be prized as a unique human
being might become stronger, so that a good lover at the start of the marriage
may not be a good spouse later on.
Second, marriage involves responsibilities and problems.
What starts out in the courtship and honeymoon stage as a relationship
involving only pleasurable, positive experiences eventually becomes encumbered
with negative experiences. There are always bills to be paid, differences to
be settled, children to be cared for, and chores to be done. If the negative
experiences come to outweigh the positive, love will be threatened.
Third, marital behavior becomes routine, automatic, and
predictable. Spouses fit into certain roles and routines and have trouble breaking
away from them. These roles and routines are necessary for the successful functioning
of the family but if too rigid can make the relationship stale and cheerless.
As a consequence, the partners lose the ability to have spontaneous "fun"
with each other.
Love need not die as it appears to do so often in American
marriages. It can be preserved, nurtured, and strengthened but not without dedication,
flexibility, clear communication, and lots of hard works.
About the Author: J. Bailey Molineux, a psychologist with
Adult and Child Counseling, has incorporated many of his articles in a book,
Loving Isn't Easy, Isbn 1587410419, sold through bookstores everywhere or available
directly from Selfhelpbooks.com. Copyright 2002, J. Bailey Molineux and Selfhelpbooks.com,
all rights reserved. This article may be reprinted but must include authors
copyright and website hyperlinks.