When Love May Not Be Enough
A young couple sits on our coach, excitedly telling us of their wedding plans: the venue, the guest list, food, and where they are going on their honeymoon. Although their conversation focuses on the wedding ceremony, we’re happy that they decided to invest in their marriage by signing up for our premarital coaching. I ask, “Why are you getting married?” They look at each other as if it’s a trick question. Then they turn toward us and in union respond, “Because we love each other.” By the tone of their voice, it’s obvious they are punctuating their answer with a question mark.
If nearly all premarital couples say they are getting married because they love each other, and if nearly 50% of first marriages and 70% of second marriages end in divorce, you might comfortably conclude that “love” is not enough to sustain a healthy, long-term marriage. Why is love not enough? Perhaps, whether they are aware of it or not, the way these couples are referring to “being in love” is actually a physical response of “feeling in love” that is wholly driven by the chemicals Oxytocin and Serotonin. Unfortunately, studies show these intense chemicals diminish over 6 to 24 months and cannot sustain themselves during a long-term relationship or marriage.
When the “love” chemicals dissipate, couples who rate their marriages as fulfilling and happy have tools in their toolkit which allow them to communicate and solve problems that are a normal part of two people becoming one. Countless couples argue and never resolve or manage their conflict, and their marital issues continually recycle and present themselves in different ways. Spouses who rate their marriages as strong and satisfying have effectively dealt with their differences and sores.
What is love? It’s more than a feeling and rooted in knowing a person on a deep human level in conjunction with accepting who they are. Accepting doesn’t necessarily mean liking everything about them. No one can genuinely love someone they don’t truly know. I feel my husband’s love, because I am completely vulnerable in showing him who I am. He knows me as well as myself and chooses to accept my good, bad, and ugly.
Marriages need strengthening now more than ever. Societal forces are conspiring even more to undermine couples and marriage. The rate of marriages is declining in favor of increasing rates of cohabitation. Few would argue against equal rights, opportunities, and pay for women, but this shift is changing women’s attitudes toward men. As women grow in independence, they view men as less essential. Now more than ever, we need to fight for marriage and protect its legacy for the couples and their families.
Where does a couple start? Whether you are in a serious relationship, premarital, or married, find a highly recommended marriage coach who can meet you where you stand, help you define your marriage vision, and then take you on a journey that includes communication and conflict resolution skills, budgeting, marriage needs and relationship expectations. Find one who will help you self-explore to understand how you show up to your significant other based on your worldviews and values. Get the support you need to have a fabulous marriage!
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a marriage coach along with her husband, Darin. She helps couples across the world via seminars, workshops, and private sessions. Sandra customizes a relationship journey for her clients based on her expertise and curriculum content from Prepare & Enrich, SYMBIS, FOCCUS, and Marriage on the Rock. Couples design their marriage, learn tools, and then work toward achieving their vision. Learn more about the ministry or sign up for a session by contacting Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org