“The job is not to fall in love, it’s to stand in love.”
That idea doesn’t sound like Hollywood’s message that true love is recognized by losing control, good sense and a vision of purpose. Romantic movies and bodice-ripping romance novels have people rushing about to provoke passion, moping over lost or never-found love interests, or involved in other unproductive activities. Lover’s quarrels fill screens and confuse minds about what is the sensible way to proceed with a long-term, satisfying relationship.
Fantasy films and books sell tickets and dreams, not relationship success. Why? Because the adults involved in the unrealistic love stories don’t spend time or energy refining their characters, let alone verifying what each other believes and values. Nor do they focus on how they can improve the lives of their love interest. Instead, they assume that something is true, and proceed to act on the inaccuracy. Misadventures ensue. Somehow some of these characters end up married or somehow together, but the public is left to assume motives and some interactions, never witnessing the road to mutual commitment. An important piece of the relationship story remains missing after the story ends. That’s not a recipe for real-life relationship success. That’s a marketing ploy for box office hits and book sales. Somehow the public never seems to tire of watching people spiral downward, falling in lust not love, and losing sight of relationship basics.
What’s a real person to do as they figure out how to repair a problematic relationship? Taking the time to think things though and acting sensibly is the answer.
In Psychology Today’s Think Like a Therapist article, the relationship-repairing emphasis is on objective, fact-oriented thinking. The clarification of each other’s motives and thought processes is an essential part of a relationship’s basis.
There’s another important element to successful relationships: Mutual concern and reciprocity. The purpose of an adult relationship, romantic or otherwise, is to serve the other person’s needs as the other person meets yours. Mutual interest and satisfaction are critical components of healthy relationships. If one or both of you lose sight of that goal, you can repair your relationship by correcting the mistake.
Maturity matters in satisfying relationships. The willingness to distinguish trivial glitches from fundamental problems, knowing when to overlook something versus knowing that it’s appropriate to be angry and to do something about it, separates emotional adults from merely chronological adults. If these ideas are not clear to you, the Emotional Intelligence book by Daniel Goleman can teach them to you painlessly.
Dr. Phil’s Healing a Broken Heart column explains sensible ground rules for mending problems and preventing new ones.
Psychologist Dr. Sonya Freedman teaches that “The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others,” and “You [I] have control over three things – what you [I] think what you [I] say, and how you [I] behave. To make a change in your [my] life, you [I] must recognize that these gifts are the most powerful tools you [I] possess in shaping the form of your [my] life.” Her book Men are Just Deserts teaches an excellent point with a pun and good advice. Dr. Freedman’s other relationship-oriented books are instructive, too.
A world of therapeutic approaches to fixing relationships exists. And so does the opportunity to take the time to think your priorities through. As you do that, keep some important ideas in mind:
- If your love interest spends too much time questioning your actions and/or whereabouts, you might bet involved with a manipulator.
- If your love interest punishes you in any manner, you need to re-evaluate if you’re involved with a mature, compassionate person in control of their behavior and focused on genuine love, or someone determined to control you.
Other problems remain to be checked out if they’re part of your love life. Perhaps the way to sort out the confusion they cause is to focus on the idea that genuine loving implies consistently decent behavior within the couple. Fictional characters fall in love. Well-rounded people support love. They enthusiastically meet the demands of a give and take situation, bearing with the ups and downs of life. They understand that “The job is not to fall in love, it’s to stand in love.”