Holding on to Romantic Love
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
Recently I spoke to a woman who has been married for 25 years. She has a lovely family, grandchildren, friends and a strong community. But she wondered about her marriage. She and her husband have a comfortable relationship, but there was little passion or romance. Thinking aloud, she pondered-- “I wonder if after all of these years, he would say he loved me?”
I am reminded of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” who had an arranged marriage with his wife, Golde. He asks her “Do you love me?” She responds—“For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow, after twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”
Why?--because romantic love is a basic element of a full adult life.
I have heard many adults who have been in a long-term relationship question how much passion and romance they should expect. “All my friends tell me that their relationship becomes more about comfort, companionship, and familiarity over time and less about romance and intimacy,” notes a woman who has been married for 10 years.
Throughout recorded history, artists, philosophers, theologians, and scholars have attempted to describe romantic love. What is it? How do we know if we have it? How does it ebb and flow throughout a long-term relationship? How can we separate it’s distinct colors and textures over time? How is it different from other kinds of love? How do we nurture romantic love? How do we find it with another person? How do we know if we have lost it? How do we know if we have found it? What should we expect?
Despite our confusion about this experience, and our difficulty in defining it, all of us want romantic love! The search for love begins in adolescence. The desire for a long-term, loving, and romantic relationships runs deep into the very core of our being.
Swans, barn owls, sand hill cranes, (and yes, termites too!), mate for life. But, surely they cannot fathom love.
I feel very fortunate. I have been with my mate for 39 years (Wow! Am I really that old?)—and we still have a close, romantic, live connection. The chemistry we had almost 4 decades ago is still alive today! So I know that it is possible, although it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what keeps those atoms colliding.
My definition--Romantic love is that sense of connection, chemistry, and closeness that brings warmth and touch. But it is also contains the deep desire to be a source of happiness for your loved one. It is not just about intimacy. I want to be a cause of happiness for my wife. Both of these conditions are important!
Life is change. Nothing stays the same. Over the long haul, our connections ebb and flow, like the tide and the seasons. There will be periods of intense involvements with others—most commonly children and possibly parents. There may be periods of immersion in work and career. During these times, our connection with our loved one may be more distant. But, when there is romantic love, we find our way back to each other because we know that is where we truly live. We know that is where we want to be. We seek each other out.
The fulfillment of romantic love is our birthright. This is why we yearn for it.
Here are a few things I do know for sure…
Romantic love must be nurtured. When we first meet our loved one, there is often passion, chemistry and infatuation. We are discovering each other. But over time, we come to know each other and we become more familiar. This is both good and bad. Romantic love, like a garden, must be watered and weeded.
Never take your loved one for granted! This can happen! Don’t let it! Consider that every day when you wake up in the morning your loved one and you are renewing your vows.
Be a source of happiness for your loved one. When both partners are a cause of happiness for each other—there is much more happiness and love in your relationship!
Do you have romantic love? Share your experience!