85% of the American population believes that joy and happiness will come from finding a soul-mate. That’s a lot of pressure to put on another person! Your joy and happiness will come from one other person? Did you know that this is a fairly new way of thinking about relationships?
Not until the 11th century did viewing your spouse as a source of your happiness begin to surface. The Romantic period in Europe shot this view sky-high until today we are focused more on infatuation and what the other person can do for us and how they can make us feel than on what our role within the relationship is.
The Romans blamed infatuation on Cupid. The Greeks called him Eros—the “god of desire.” It is one of four Greek words available that we translate “love.” It means “passionate” or “sensual” love. Plato said it was the initial love felt for a person. But even Plato understood that it had to grow into an appreciation of the beauty within that person.
Neuroscience has actually proven that the feelings that come with infatuation will only last 24-36 months. That’s only 2-3 years. One study in Britain said that the “seven year itch” has now been replaced by the “three year itch.”
When people enter into a marriage with a mental model that the other person is where their joy and happiness will come from and have a love based on eros love it is almost set up for failure. A couple gets married on an emotional high thinking that’s what a good marriage is like. Then, at some point when the “romance” fades a bit, one or both begin thinking they may have married the wrong person when in reality you can only keep infatuation feelings high for 2-3 years. And the only way you can keep infatuation high is to remarry every 2-3 years.
Maybe that’s why the word eros was not used by New Testament writers. They talked about brotherly love (phileo) and family love (storge). But they really liked to talk about the kind of love that is other-focused rather than self-focused: agape.
Agape love will lead you to a mature, intimate love. The research says that although it only takes 2-3 years for infatuation to drop off it takes 10-15 years to even begin to reach intimacy. And here’s the interesting find: couples that make it to their 35th wedding anniversary find the same satisfaction as newlyweds.
Marriages that stick are like steady yield investments. Keep putting deposits into it and at some point it will explode with intimacy.
You can start making deposits today. Here’s how:
- Instead of asking “what can my spouse do for me?” ask “what can I do for my spouse?”
- Start doing that.
- Redefine marriage. Instead of thinking it is designed to make you happy start understanding that marriage is designed to make you holy (or mature).
Invest for the long term. You will see a great yield in due time.
Question: In what way(s) can you put your partner first today?