Romantic Love is First Love
According to Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., in his book Keeping the Love You Find, romantic love is the height of unconsciousness. In blinding us to reality, romantic love performs a valuable service for mankind.
Hendrix opines that we unwittingly choose someone like our parent/caretakers, then expect our mate/lover to love us as our parents never did. Therefore, our mate/lover is able to open all our old wounds. If we were not blind with romantic love, we would run screaming in the other direction.
Romantic love then acts as nature's anesthesia so that we will stick together long enough to see if we can make a relationship work. Romantic love can last a few weeks or even a few years, but, unfailingly, the bubble will burst and lust or romantic love will begin to wane..
Hendrix writes "During the romantic love stage of a relationship-buoyed by hope and endorphins-each partner is voluntarily providing what the other wants and needs, so there is some basis in reality for the anticipation that the relationship will be fulfilling."
But commitment which is most often the actual wedding ceremony changes that, and things begin to come apart. As anticipations becomes expectations, both partners tend to withdraw some of the unconditional love and generosity that characterized the early relationship. At this same time they begin to expect, demand, or feel entitled to have their own needs met.
Harville concludes, "Since they have chosen partners with their caretakers' failings, it is likely that the partner will fail them as well, in the same devastating ways. Each is doomed to disappoint the other."
All couples go from romantic love to a less infatuated stage. Romantic love is supposed to end and it does-in a power struggle within the relationship. The relationship moves from romantic illusion to the disillusionment that heralds the onset of that struggle.
Or maybe the power play is as simple as the garbage. Bill said their honeymoon was over when time came to take out the garbage. She was sure that no lady would carry the garbage to the curb. He was sure that no real man would carry the garbage anywhere.
Consequently, the garbage piled up in the apartment, then down the stairs. Eventually, some creepy crawlers made both partners work to clean it up.
And then the power struggle started over.
Although the power struggle is not supposed to last-it is a way station on the way to real love-most marriages stall in the struggle, according to Hendrix. Some couples stay in the relationship or marriage, but remain focused on childhood issues that were never resolved. Many others leave the relationship and go back into the singles' world in search of chemistry and romantic love.
Hendrix defines chemistry as a combination of:
The worst traits of our parents or childhood caretakers.
The negative traits that we possess but deny in ourselves.
The traits that have been repressed in us by our upbringing.
The traits that society denies our gender.
So much for chemistry and romantic love: on with power!