Does Love last forever?

Call me Cynic!  I am sorry but I am not a believer in everlasting love.  When I go to weddings and see the “happily” married couples with stars in their eyes and passion in their hearts, I wonder how long it will be until the divorce.  What many people regard as love is little more than infatuation and naiveté.  We begin our romance with delusions of how wonderful this person makes us feel, how much we enjoy being with them, endless nights of passion and a lifetime of love without strings attached.  Somewhere along the way for all too many couples today, this fantasy of love changes.  Our blemish free partner suddenly develops warts, demands start increasing, passionate nights of love making become less and less frequent.  At some point, we begin to have doubts as to what we really saw in this person.  Did we really make the right choice?  What were we thinking? 
Well, you are probably thinking about what a miserable person I am right now. How can I say these things about love and marriage?  Perhaps all my relationships have been terrible but yours certainly would not be.  What world is he living in?  I suppose  I could point to my present 23 year marriage to Karen as some evidence of my experience in this matter but you could simply say “Yes, but it sounds like you are pretty unhappy.” Actually, that is not the case.  I have never been happier or more in love with Karen then I am now.  We started dating in 1983, married in 1989 and will have our 24th wedding anniversary in September.  I submit some people stay married simply because of duty or loyalty but that is not my case.  To be perfectly honest, I do believe in the possibility of living “happily ever after.”  Call me Idealist!   This is not the same as everlasting love. 
Next weekend, I will attend my former employer Lou Schultz, who is now my good friend and his wife Kay’s 50 anniversary.  I could not be happier for Lou and Kay. Throughout all the years I have known Lou, he has worked hard for whatever he has obtained.  Nothing was simply given to Lou nor would he expect the world to simply take care of him.  Lou served in the Marine Corp with honor and subsequently built a very successful career with Control Data.  Not content to simply pick up a paycheck and put his time in, Lou struck out on his own in the early 80’s and took the risk of starting his own company.  Lou and Kay put up a great deal of their savings to start PMI.  During the 80’s and early 90’s, PMI was one of the most successful quality consulting firms in the industry.  Kay continued to work to help support the effort and Lou put in many 60-80 hour work weeks.  The same hard work and dedication that Lou put into the company, Lou put into his marriage.  Thus, next week they will celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. Call me Realist!
At PMI, I learned from Lou and others, that most of life is a process.  There are ups and downs, ins and outs and normal variation in day to day levels of quality and satisfaction.  I submit that true love is really like that.  It is a process. You must feed and nurture it. You must work at it and you must expect ups and downs.  Some days, you will feel more loved and closer than ever before. If you continually work on your process, you will find the ups and downs become less severe and you will find your overall “quality” levels increasing in a steady upward trend. Meaning you will begin to have more and more a deepening sense of love for your partner. In team building, we describe the process of team development as going through four stages. The first stage is Forming when the group begins and selects it rules and leaders.  The second stage is Stormingwhen the group starts challenging the rules and power struggles break out.  The third state is Norming when standards and expectations begin to be understood and the group begins to really work together. The fourth and final stage is Performing when the team is really working on task and accomplishing its objectives in a unified and cohesive manner.  It has finally become a real team. 
I believe love may go through similar stages for many of us.  At least for those of us who are willing to stick it out past the Storming stage instead of heading off to Divorce Court.  However, unlike a team which is only formed for a short period of time, our marriage or our relationships are “teams” that we want to form for life.  The implication or consequence of this decision is that: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing may become part of our overall cycle of process improvement.  Love grows as a result of sticking to this process and continuing to build trust and loyalty with our partner.  It is all too easy to give up on them and to look for someone else who better meets our expectations.  Keep in mind that these expectations are most likely the same ones that your former lover once filled. However, since you have never understood the idea of Love as a Process, your desire is to simply fulfill that fantasy of love which still exists in your mind.  You go out again hoping to find Mr. or Ms. Right. This is the only person in the world who can satisfy your dreams and hopes of everlasting and effortless free love.  What you are really in love with is yourself and you are looking for a mirror to reflect that love back to you. This might happen for a short time but eventually and inevitably, your dream partner begins to have dreams of their own.  The “Mirror Mirror on the Wall” will someday tell you that you are not the “The fairest of them all.”  And thus the cycle of disillusionment starts again. 
Are you in love today or in passion?  Are you a cynic, an idealist or a realist about love?  Do you work at your relationships or do they just happen?  What could you do to apply the ideas of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing to your relationships?  What do you think it would take to put more love in your life?  

2 Comments (+add yours?)

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