…Romantic love has two stages
Actually, I knew there were two stages of love. Maybe not in these exact terms but I knew there was a difference between the “over the moon” swooning & butterflies honeymoon phase of a relationship, and the deep, sustaining quality of love that lasts through the decades. I just wasn’t sure how one transitioned from one stage into the next.
The first stage is easy…you’d do anything to be with or make the other person happy. Being together was effortless. It didn’t matter what was happening as long as you were together. Because you were “in love”.
And then one day it seems all the little habits, mannerisms, quirks and styles of your spouse that you fully embraced when you were “in love” (and vowed you’ll always love this person the way they are) has piled enough to topple over into an outburst of why the other person is the way they are. You don’t get why s/he isn’t getting it…s/he doesn’t get why you aren’t getting it. And then a stuck sort of feeling emerges. “Wow, this is hard.” “Is it supposed to be this hard if I’m with the right person?” “What happened to the person I married?”
I honestly expected these questions to emerge when I married. I expected the difficulty and the hard work that would need to come with it. In fact, as much as getting into conflict tears at my heart, I still saw it as an opportunity to hammer things out until we reached a better and deeper understanding of the other person. And so far it’s been great! (Once the conflict was resolved that is.) I’ve had to learn our differences and preferences in conflict resolution, but otherwise, every argument has resulted in a feeling of deeper love and appreciation for each other.
The book references learning each other’s Love Languages (more on their website). We all speak a slightly different love language so how we show love might not be how the other person likes to receive love. This results in you feeling under appreciated or not well loved….even if the other person is showing the best they can (in THEIR love language) that they love and appreciate you. I believe speaking each other’s love language well is what will inject those “in love” feelings into your marriage long after the honeymoon phase is over.
For Skywalker and I, some of the conflict we’ve had certainly stemmed from our differences in love language. Speaking each other’s love language takes a lot of practice because it doesn’t usually come naturally to who we are. I’ve read somewhere that the honeymoon period for anything (relationships, new job, new house, new city) lasts about two and a half years. That’s EXACTLY where we’re at from the start of our dating relationship til our first anniversary. So we’re already transitioning from phase 1 to 2! We’ve made huge progress….and it’s always about progress right? Here’s to year two…and beyond!