- Gender and Relationships
Is It Love? Will It Last?
by Kathy Batesel
Is it Love?
You probably don't need to ask "Is it love?" when you first fall in love. You know that your fluttery stomach, the way you can't stop thinking about him or her, and your overwhelming desire to spend every moment together are strong signs that you've fallen in love. But before long, a more important question will occur to you: "Can our love last?"
It might happen before you agree to make your relationship exclusive, before you make a huge jump into marriage, or when your relationship faces hardships that threaten it.
Have you ever wondered how some couples are affectionate after many years together? You may be surprised to find out the difference between couples that seem to be meant for each other and couples that eventually split.
What do you think makes love last?
What do you suspect the difference is between couples that are happy after decades and those who aren't?
Do You Have A Marriage Mindset?
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Where (and when) you live has a lot to do with what marriages look like. As cultural norms change, so does the social fabric that makes up a community. People in the United States don't marry with the same expectations today that their ancestors held a century ago. Parents in India might select their child's spouse, an idea that seems alien and undesirable to many Americans.
Examining unfamiliar marriage customs can help us weigh the pros and cons of how we approach marriage.
Cultures may have traditional, autonomous, or collectivist approaches to marriage.
- Traditional cultures, like those in the middle east, highly rank a man's ambition and a woman's sexual chastity as important to choosing a marital partner.
- Autonomous areas, like North America, value romantic love, attraction, and compatibility.
- Collectivist cultures, including some Asian cultures, look at family networks, health, and financial arrangements as important reasons to select a mate. Often, the family chooses a marital partner, and the betrothed person may or may not be able to veto their selection.
Some studies have compared marital satisfaction between arranged marriages and those that were made for love, but the results aren't completely conclusive. Certain research has shown that couples in arranged marriages have a higher level of marriage satisfaction, while other researches have concluded that the two kinds of marriage result in similar levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Regardless of how they hooked up, couples have informed scientists of what determines how happy they are in their marriages, and unraveling the results can be tough. Take a look at just a few of the kinds of things that can affect a couple's happiness:
A Few Things that Affect Love Satisfaction
Health / Illness
"Does my partner understand me?"
Expectations of the relationship
"Can I influence my partner?"
Chip on shoulder vs. Trusting
"Do I feel desirable to my partner?"
Assuming success / failure
"Does my spouse confide in me?"
"Is my spouse committed to me?"
Existing relationship skills
"Do we do things together that have meaning?"
"Does my partner admire me?"
It's not hard to see how many factors influence whether a love can last or not! A couple who pledges to love each other forever can't anticipate exactly what that means, but job and family problems, personality differences, boredom, and personal well-being will bring challenges to the relationship.
Whether love can withstand those changes depends on two individuals navigating all these things - external factors, how they interact, their personalities, and their attitudes.
But before we get into all that, let's look at one underlying assumption that causes many relationships to fail when they first start facing the obstacles that can destroy love.
Most Couples Will Never Celebrate a Golden Anniversary
How Does Love Develop?
Is it Love? Can it Become Love?
Fewer than 5% of arranged marriages in India fail. This video provides an enlightening look at how love can develop and grow between two people with very little in common. In the U.S., divorce rates climbed in and after the 1970s, but historically, marriages here developed similarly - even when it was a marriage for love.
How does this couple's attitude provide a strong realistic foundation for lasting love?
Single Biggest Mistaken Idea about Love
You probably already know that passionate love can't endure. All those feel-good chemicals in our brains during the first stages of love will eventually settle down and we'll return to being our "normal" selves.
When that happens, many relationships begin a long, painful slide. Where they once fell in love, they now start to climb out of it one painful snub at a time. It might take years or even decades for all of their affection and caring to disappear, but this is what happens when we expect our partners to "be the right partner" instead of learning to love the partner we have.
The fact is, nobody's going to be perfect for us! So we have to let them (and our relationship) have enough meaning in our lives to make it a top priority.
The chart above highlighted that external factors, our personalities, the way we interact, and our attitudes all affect relationship satisfaction. They affect us and our partners, even though we may have individual responses to these factors. But the most important one to love success is attitude.
The reason arranged marriages are as satisfactory or better than marriage for love is probably due to attitude. Cultures that rely on arranged marriage or matchmaking services have taught their children from an early age that marriage is something that can succeed even if the bride and groom are strangers on their wedding night! The young man and woman who will marry a stranger have different expectations that young adults who marry for love.
Those who marry for love tend to have very high relationship satisfaction in the beginning, but it often drops later, replaced by resentment and unhappiness.
Those in arranged marriages may have fewer of the external factors to contend with - the family finances, health, and social expectations have been evaluated for them before they wed. Their social expectations have laid forth exactly what roles the wife will fulfill and what the husband is supposed to do. Although it might sound limiting, it does make it easier for each of them to know if they are doing the "right" thing or not.
In other words, their attitude is that they will learn to love their partner in the years to come. They start at zero and get up to speed, instead of racing ahead and putting on the brakes whenever obstacles arise.
To make your relationship work, you must develop the right attitude - one that trusts that love will grow and deeply believes your partner is a good person who wouldn't knowingly harm you.
Just as a house must be built on a sturdy foundation if it's to last, your relationship will endure longer if you have the right attitude from the beginning.
Sometimes the secret to staying together is "Just don't break up!" But keeping your love and affection for each other depends on finding reasons to love your partner even when everything else is going wrong.
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