I Wish I Had Known That Being Love Is Not An Adequate Foundation For Building A Successful Marriage

I t should have been obvious, but I missed it. I had never read a book on marriage so my mind was not cluttered with reality. I just knew that I had feelings for Karolyn that I had never felt with any other girl. When we kissed, it was like a trip to heaven. When I saw her after an extended absence, I actually felt chill bumps. I liked everything about her.

I liked the way she looked, the way she talked, the way she walked, and I was especially captivated by her brown eyes. I even liked her mother and volunteered to paint her house anything to let this girl know how much I loved her. I could not imagine any other girl being more wonderful than she. I think she had the same thoughts and feelings about me. With all of these thoughts and feelings, we fully intended to make each other happy the rest of our lives. Yet, within six months after marriage, we were both more miserable than we had ever imagined.

The euphoric feelings were gone, and instead, we felt hurt, anger, disappointment, and resentment. This, we never antic- ipated when we were “in love.” We thought that the positive perceptions and feel- ings we had for each other would be with us for a lifetime. Over the past thirty years, I have done premarital counseling sessions with hun- dreds of couples. I have found that most of them have the same limited perspec- tive about being in love.

I have often asked couples in our first session this ques- tion: “Why do you want to get married?” Whatever else they say, they always give me the big reason. And the big reason is almost always the same: “Because we love each other.” Then I ask a very unfair question: “What do you mean by that?” Typi- cally they are stunned by the question. Most say something about a deep feeling that they have for each other.

It has persisted for some time and is in some way different from what they have felt for other dating partners. Often they look at each other, they look at the ceiling, they giggle, and then one of them says, “Well, ahh … oh, you know.” At this stage of my life, I think I do know—but I doubt that they know. I fear that they have the same perception of being in love that Karolyn and I had when we got married. And I know now that being in love is not a sufficient foundation on which to build a successful marriage.

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