The beginning of the end or the first step toward real, lasting love?
How The End of “Being In Love” Is the Opportunity For “Real, Lasting Love.”
Marcia was devastated when her husband of twenty-five years told her,
“I’m not in love with you anymore. The life has gone out of our marriage and I don’t think we can get it back.”
Two days later her husband Mark moved out of the house. He said he needed to sort things out. The couple’s two children were distraught and afraid.
Marcia called me in full panic mode.
“I feel blind-sided,” she told me. “We’ve had our ups and down and Mark’s been having a tough time with huge stresses at work, but I never thought it would come to this.”
After telling me about their lives up until now, Marcia broke into tears.
“I love Mark and I don’t want our marriage to end. What can I do?”
I told her that hearing the words “I’m not in love with you anymore” feels like having your heart ripped out. You think your world is collapsing. But it doesn’t have to be the end. In fact, it may be just the beginning of the best love of your life.
Confessions of a Thrice Married Marriage-and-Family Therapist
It’s said that we teach what we want to learn. For more than 40 years I’ve been teaching people how to have successful marriages that remain passionate, loving, and creative through the years.
Being a marriage and family counselor has been a satisfying career and I’ve helped thousands of couples. But the truth is my initial motivation for going into the field was to learn how I could have a successful marriage.
My parents divorced when I was five years old and I grew up being raised by a single Mom. I vowed that what happened to them wouldn’t happen to me. “When I fall in love, it would be forever.” I probably remembered that from one of the love songs I heard growing up. “Forever” lasted almost ten years for me. I remarried and my second marriage lasted just two years. Before I married again, if I ever found the right person, I vowed I would learn the secret of real, lasting love.
My wife, Carlin, and I have now been married for 35 years. I’ll tell you truthfully it’s often been a struggle and there were times I wasn’t sure we’d make it. But I can tell you, we’ve learned the secret of having a functional, joyful, marriage. Learning about the four stages of marriage turned out to be the key to our success.
The Four Stages of Marriage
I still remember falling in love with Carlin. We met at an Aikido dojo and later reconnected at the weekend workshop on Sex, Love, and Relationships. I don’t remember much of the formal learning because I was entranced with Carlin. We talked, walked on the beach, talked some more. I felt I had finally found my soul partner. We laughed together, played together, made mad, passionate love. Having finally found “the right person” we were sure that things would continue to be wonderful. Oh, how naïve we were.
It turned out this was the only the first of four stages:
Stage 1: Falling In Love
Stage 2: Becoming a Couple
Stage 3: Disillusionment
Stage 4: Creating Real, Lasting Love
Watch out this interesting video on how to build happy marriage and avoid divorce:
1. Falling in Love: Nature’s Trick to Get Us Together
Here’s a thought experiment that can teach us a lot. Imagine the implication of this simple truth: None of your direct ancestors died childless.
We know your parents had at least one child. We also know your grandparents had at least one child. You can trace your ancestry back and back and back. You may or may not have children and you certainly know people who will never have children. But all your ancestors did.