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It is not the solution to a problem that builds a healthy relationship.  
- Dr. Belle

So, you're Getting Ready for Love! in a society where the divorce rate hovers around the 50% mark. Well, be careful. What you're looking for may be based on seductive expectations and myths about romance that grew out of centuries old concepts of Courtly Love and Romantic Love.

Until merged in the new world by the Puritans (yes, they originally sanctified passion through marriage), passion and marriage were essentially irreconcilable. Their origins and ends made them mutually exclusive. Courtly Love between a knight and his married lady of nobility was ALWAYS chaste and asexual: that would be the Knights of the Round Table variety, made legend by Lancelot and Guinevere. Then, as well demonstrated by Shakespeare in his tragedies, in order to have the unrequited love and intensity of emotion called for in Romantic Love, the beloved must remain unattainable. So often, these contradictory ideas coexist in our unconscious mind giving us automatic assumptions about what a relationship with another person is, what we should feel, and what we should get out of it.

Ready?  Check out your belief systems: 

Love conquers all.  One of the most popular and dangerous, this says love is everything, discounting the need for communication and conflict resolution skill and some matching of interests and values. 

Angerless love.  If you love me you will not be angry with me, and vice versa.  Proper expression of anger is essential in healthy living and loving.  Anger is not the opposite of love; indifference is the opposite of both. 

Love without conflict.  Not only is some conflict unavoidable, its total absence is a far greater danger sign. 

Magical knowing.  If you love me, you should know what Im feeling, thinking, needing.  Mind reading is not yet a proven human capability!  More likely this is an excuse for claiming to be misunderstood and neglected. 

True love should lead to marriage.  One of the most popular, yet most ill advised myths derived straight out of Romanticism, this one neglects to warn that there may be some individuals with whom one may be in love, but well advised NOT to marry.  During a typical lifespan, there may be several true loves.  

Love means never having to say I'm sorry. Wasn't there a book by this title? If so, for heavens sake toss it! This myth takes away all accountability. It merely provides an excuse to be or do whatever one wants regardless of its consequences on others. 

If you're even a little attracted to others, love is dying. Truth is, this means you're alive and well. You will probably be attractive to and attracted by many others. Mature love can accept such feelings without acting on them.  

The right partner will meet ALL of my needs.  No human being can nor should be expected to meet all of their partners needs.  Truthfully, no one must have all of his or her needs met to be whole and healthy. The fact is a majority of people has no idea what their needs are.  This can be a good topic for a partner-to-partner communication exercise. 

Good marriages just come naturally.  All that this outgrowth of Romanticism does is relieve one of the responsibilities needed for working at the marriage. 

The right partner.  Good news!  There is more than just one right partner out there waiting for you.  The soul mate ideal is definitely one of Romanticisms favorites.  Such romantic novels like Richard Bach's A Bridge Across Forever make good reading along with giving warm fuzzies, but also make an excuse for some failed marriages.  It places the responsibility on the other person for the failure, suggesting that the soul mate coupling would NEVER fail. 

Don't be surprised if you find yourself holding onto more than a few of these tenets. Still dominating todays Western Society, Romantic love remains the single greatest energy system in which men and women seek meaning, transcendence and wholeness. Don't be disappointed, either. The very process of ferreting out these unconscious expectations and assumptions, then owning and sharing them with your partner, begins a very positive dialogue, which can serve as a model for future conflict resolution. It is not the solution to a problem that builds healthy relationships.  It is the PROCESS OF PROBLEM SOLVING, itself, that builds them.

Copyright 2005-2006    Belle Muschinske, PhD, MFT   All Rights Reserved

Note from Viveca
:  Dr. Belle was instrumental in helping me move forward in my life. When I met her I was enmeshed in a relationship that was destroying me emotionally, financially, physically  At our first meeting I told her that I wanted my life back. I got it! Thank you Dr. Belle!

To continue this conversation ... click here to evaluate your past or present relationship tendencies in Dr. Belle's Is Your Relationship Healthy?

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