When Love is Real & When Love Dies

I’m a romantic at heart.  I love to see people find each other, to see a good relationship, or to see a marriage that I look up to.  The problem with my romanticizing is that its not a viewpoint that always lines up with reality.

Although we want to think that love is easy, or is a mere feeling, or even a strong passion between lovers, it seems clear to anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship – and especially marriage – that love is most definitely a choice.  Scott Peck, author of the Road Less Traveled, has said that he believes true love doesn’t even start until a couple is out of the honeymoon phase of their relationship, and he didn’t mean their actual honeymoon.  Really loving someone happens when you choose to do things in their best interest, even when you don’t feel like it necessarily.

I’m not saying that the feelings of love totally die after a certain time point in a long-term relationship such as a marriage, but the high that comes from a new relationship (and infatuation) wears off eventually, and that is when it’s up to the couple to learn to really love.

Being the romantic at heart, I can even romanticize this real love (this takes skill)!  When the infatuation period is over, and those feelings of a natural high are mostly gone from day-to-day, it’s romantic to me to make choices that lead to a strong, real love.  Maybe I can romanticize anything… I’m sure many of you don’t think it’s romantic to be in a marriage and have to do the work of learning to truly love, I know when I was a girl growing up, this was the most unromantic thing I’d ever heard.  I actually thought Scott Peck was wrong – or at least, I hoped he was wrong.

Now I know that loving someone truly is about the most romantic thing you can do.  Real love creates a strong and passionate marriage.


Falling Out of Love

Doing the necessary work to achieve this real love prevents a marriage from dying.  When people have affairs, they do it because they are either a sociopath or because something is usually missing from their marriage – a need is not being met in a very real way.  Does it excuse it?  No… but I feel for people who make this horrible mistake.  The affair partner is a fantasy… it’s infatuation and addiction, never at the beginning is it real love.

It’s after the infatuation period wears off that the slow & downward spiral of falling out of love with each other can happen.  Truly loving your spouse means that you take care of each other’s deepest needs… needs for security, conversation, sex, and companionship just to name a few.  When these needs go unmet, the couple is shirking their responsibility to really love each other, and leading the door wide open to the vulnerability of an affair.  It’s like emotionally or physically starving your partner to death.

The amazing thing is that when you do make those choices to meet each other’s needs and build a real, strong love together, you change.  You might not have that intense feeling of infatuation all the time, but the trust and security that you feel from knowing how much you both care about each other leads to immense passion.

It’s intoxicating to be married to someone who cares so deeply about your well-being and emotional needs – it creates the deepest love which to me, translates to an even deeper passion.

8 thoughts on “When Love is Real & When Love Dies

  1. I agree overall. We have been married 59 years. I am hoping to reach 60 next year and celebrate in Hawaii–our favorite place on earth.

    I fell in love with my wife to be the first time I saw her. There never was anyone else. I suppose the flaming passion we think of is not there, but there is plenty of sensual pleasure—just not like when we first married and I was young. My body is 80 years one going on 100 and it is not happy and takes lots of meds.

    I have a great wife. There were times that I did not think that she was great, but now with decades looking back, I had a great wife.

    We still like to go out on dates–especially a romantic restaurant a few miles from us. She lies me to make the move on her to this day. lol She wants me to be hungry male. lol That part cracks me up.

    I never miss a holiday, birthday or anniversary. She loves cards, flowers and See’s chocolates.

    We have three kids and she talks to them all every week–some daily.

    I guess the cliche ‘tough love’ fits here.


  2. My Ex chose to have an affair before telling me he was unhappy. As I often say to people, he gave his mistress a window into our marriage and in turn he gave me a wall. I’m sure she knows every last detail as to why he was so unhappy with me. Meanwhile, I sit here clueless. I spent many a session in therapy trying to figure out how a man who appeared happy and told me he loved me could have an affair, leave our marriage for this woman and then turn around and marry her.

    When I confronted him, he told me he was in love with her.

    I have my doubts if he even knows what love is or what it means to love someone.

  3. Men are not hypergamous, in the main, so if they have affairs it’s likely for different motivations than are true for women.

    I know two women well who had deliberate, long affairs while married with a friend of mine. The man was single in both instances. The women were hoping to trade up, and turned on a dime the moment it become clear than he would not immediately wife them up. He was left high and dry emotionally, as he was clear about his boundaries and they eagerly submitted to them. He didn’t see the sexual strategies for what they were: opportunistic offerings in hope of moving up and out, improving the material and sexual circumstances of their *marriage.* He resembles something of an alpha, though he’s really sigma, so it wasn’t straight money or sex they wanted, it was both.

    I have another male friend who complies with the female stereotype of men as thoughtless, ambulatory genitalia. He loves being married; he likes getting some strange. I don’t where his head is at now, but he was undertaking therapy the last time we spoke. Again, he has no desire to trade-up.

    My ex-wife’s best friend, a wealthy trustfunder, gathered up her 11 year-old boy, kidnapped him to Switzerland, where she lives with a financier. Her ex-husband didn’t see his boy until he was 18.

    About 15 years into my marriage my ex-asked me why I couldn’t be something more regular (I was an entrepreneurial CEO) like … a Goldman Sachs partner. A smarter man would have realized these were major alarm bells. I laughed, actually, and said “Because I don’t want to be, and I’m very ill-suited for it.” Three years later her affairs started, though “affair” gives them too much credence; in one email she referred to it as “some bouncy-bounce.” I erred again in suppressing any reaction, presuming it was just a nearing-40 deviation that would pass. I didn’t realize she was testing the waters, seeing if she could find somebody who made my wages but didn’t work six days a week. As the marriage (I: still to dumb to realize it) was winding down, she demanded that I retire. At 42.

    When she divorced me she still wanted to have sexual relations, and she kept a nude photo of me on her dresser. After she found her second husband, who falls asleep in his chair at 9 p.m. every night, she redirected her sexual interests, so far as I know, into real estate. Except for the year when she wouldn’t speak to me, because I stopped paying child support — per our custody order — when our second child reached 18 (she wanted me to just keep paying it, because, you know, she didn’t work and it was her walking around money), she continued to flirt with me at every one of the children’s functions we both attended.

    So I concur utterly with Deti’s post on the Seduction thread. Female hypergamy is driven, adjusted for where a woman is in her life, by a desire to see if she can trade up. Alpha widows marry better (usually beta) bux, if they can. A lot of men indulge a weakness for strange if they can get away with it. Women who “fall out of love” are either not attracted to their husbands, or think their husbands have topped out financially.

    Oh, and my ex-? Her public rationale for terminating our family was that my latest venture would fail. When the Washington Post wrote a profile of me and my company a year later, she sued me, and my attorney, for “fraud.” That cost another $200K to dispose of.

    I think the best illustration of this phenomenon is the Nicole Kidman version of Stepford Wives. In the subplot where Kidman organizes a game show titled “I can do better!” guess which spouse decides to do better: the whiny schlub husband, or the giggly girl.

  4. OMG BV…. wow. I just don’t really understand it, how women can do this. And yet, I do understand it to some degree (maybe I just don’t want to believe it?)….

  5. I’ve been married for over 20 years to a woman who insists that she loves me, but has only shown contempt, disrespect, and a disdain for passion that began immediately after marriage. Since before our marriage I had always said that love isn’t a feeling; it’s a choice. Many other people would say that love isn’t a feeling; it’s an action. I now believe those statements show lack of depth in understanding.

    Love is a feeling, a choice, an action. What are we choosing? What does the action mean? Do sweet feelings override the silent contempt that is implicit when ignoring a decision that the husband has made? Attempts to reduce important and/or complex concepts to a single slogan are ubiquitous. Being in love is much more than just a feeling. For many, men included, it is an emotional necessity… this is why men crave more than just the physical aspect of sex. It is in our power to choose to be in love, even with a spouse who is cold. This is part of what the traditional wedding vow is about. If a person is not willing to choose to passionately persue their spouse, then they are not loving their spouse. If humans are not capable of deciding to be sincerely passionate for better or for worse, then the vow is no more than a cruel joke.

    As an experienced object of contempt, I can tell you that passionate love is completely in the power of the one who chooses to love. I have done it, and I know that it is extremely difficult to consistently do when there is a lack of good will in the other spouse. I believe that the lack of good will (sincerety in love, loyalty, respect which also involve choices), can make it impossible to persue passion. There is just no reason I can think of why two sincerely loving people can’t be passionately in love if they both choose to do so, and persist even through difficulty. Why would that have to die just because the novelty of marriage is gone?

    Actions that are claimed to convey love are hypocritical when they are motivated by obligation alone. Being passionate, sexual, and sensual, provides assurance (particularly to men), that the actions really are motivated by love. People seem to think they’ve been faithful to their spouse and to their vow as long as they haven’t divorced or committed adultery, but there is more to the marriage vow than that.

    People usually make the point that love is “not a feeling, but an action” because it is a blatant and injurious deception/hypocrisy to claim to love someone without the dedication to love in actual practice that shows beyond the sex act. And those who say “love is a choice, not a feeling,” are trying to overcome the foolish self-deception of the spouse who thinks it’s time to move on because the feelings have died. Still, I think it is very important to see the serious problem with both statements and say, rather:

    In a marriage, love isn’t only a feeling, it is your decision to passionately persue your spouse in word and deed even when life stinks, or when your spouse is being a louse. I just can’t see love in marriage unless it is a persistent and conscious act of the will that brings passion, action, loyalty, forgiveness, good will, help, desire…. Why do we think we can describe this kind of love in one sentence??

  6. I just realized that, especially in light of that third paragraph, it may seem like I’m some kind of altruistic weenie who thinks he has found all the answers to dealing with a difficult marriage. That isn’t even close to being true. I hurt deeply, daily. I only know that I have chosen to love her. And with God’s help, I’m still with her, and doing my best to love her sincerely when it seems like I have no strength left in me. I am not persuing peace at all costs. I am direct and persistent with her about describing the problems. There just seems to be no good-faith effort to show a real, sincere, passionate love on her part. There are only a few hollow actions.

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