You’ve probably watched quite a number of these predictable storylines:
Boy meets girl. Boy sweeps girl off her (sometimes initially reluctant) feet. The two encounter a few snafus before falling madly in love and walking off into the sunset, living happily ever after.
Or this one:
A man and woman are brought together under trying circumstances – war, maybe illness. The two surmount enormous obstacles that threaten to keep them apart. By the end of the film, the two walk off into the sunset, living happily ever after.
Though abbreviated, these two scenarios illustrate how films have taught us to believe that “happily ever after” is an end point, rather than a beginning.
They portray romantic love as a kind of super glue that, once in place, guarantees perpetual happiness.
Yet in my forty years of counseling couples, I have faced many intimate partners as they were trying to hold on to loving feelings that seemed to be slipping away.
What happened to their happily ever after?
The unchanging, everlasting idea of love we’ve learned from movies, novels, and poetry is the opposite of what makes true love last.
In fact, it’s precisely this kind of expectation that results in so much of the relationship dissatisfaction couples are experiencing today.
“Romantic” love implies that two people will forever adore one another, and that the connection they feel will always be as intense and passionate as it is when they first fell in love.
It implies that once your search is over and you’ve found “the one,” you’ve figured everything out.
But for this to be true, it would require that the people in the relationship never change or grow. Both would stay stuck at whatever level of personal development they were at when they met.
There would be nothing new or exciting to report. Their love would be frozen in time.
As it’s becoming clear, this is the stuff of fiction.
People change. Feelings change. Dreams change. Life itself, changes. Unpredictable circumstances bring unforeseen experiences.
And believing otherwise is what creates problems for us later.
When we have an idealized view of romantic love, we aren’t prepared for the inevitable challenges and changes life brings – from the mundane like moving to a new home to the major events such as illness, raising children, and issues with your extended families.
And when these things do happen, we panic and resist. We crave what we once had. We become disillusioned with our partners. We blame them and think they’ve changed, or we blame ourselves. We rethink whether we’re in the right relationship at all.
But the reality is that we simply hadn’t set things up correctly from the start, and we’re not doing the things that recapture the magic and sense of discovery that existed at the beginning of the relationship.
Initial lust may fade, but euphoric, celebratory can be a constant.
When you enter into a relationship knowing that it’s natural for romantic love to change, you can use this phase of the relationship to set yourself up for lasting love.
What’s more, you can continue to enjoy the thrills of romantic love in your entire relationship. Why?
Because when you and your partner understand how romantic love truly unfolds and find ways to strengthen your connection through all the phases of your relationship, phenomenal intimacy is possible.
When couples achieve true intimacy, they know how to bring back their initial romantic feelings, but imbedded within the depth of the heart-sharing history they have created over time.
They’re able to take all the discovery, spontaneity, and limitless potential of their courtship days… and inject it into their relationship so that they maintain the excitement while growing together as a couple and evolving as individuals. The result is sweeter and deeper than what they felt as a new couple.
When you subscribe to receive my free relationship advice newsletter (below), I’ll teach you how to love like a hero and create a love story that stands the test of time. You’ll learn:
And if you’re already in a relationship and now wish you would have known all this at the beginning, it’s not too late for you. You can do just as my clients have done: build the right habits and skills to recapture the romance you once shared and create an even more connected future.
You’ll now understand what likely went wrong in your relationship, and you’ll know what to do to get things back on track.
When you’re armed with this insight and my techniques for creating true intimacy, you really can enjoy a movie-kind of love – one that lasts far beyond the usual storylines.