I was listening to a Tony Robbins CD in the care and something he said struck me as being a little off. He was speaking of relationships, and how we begin by being intensely “in love”, full of enthusiasm for each other, and then eventually the enthusiasm wears off and things wind down to a lower key. The problem I have is that Robbins treats this as if it is the result of our being inattentive to our relationships. I think it’s actually quite natural and to a degree – healthy.
Gary Chapman, in The Five Love Languages, talks about the same phenomena. Research shows that the phenomena of being intensely “in love” lasts about two years. During that time, it is easy to overlook each other’s faults, and easy to find each other fascinating. This is actually nature’s way of keeping a couple together long enough for a child to be conceived, be born, and reach the age where he or she can walk independently.
This initial attraction fulfills biological needs. But human beings also have a higher emotional life. While two years may be enough to bring a child into the world, both the couple and the child have higher emotional needs that require a more developed kind of love. If properly used, the intense period of “love” is a chance for a couple to learn enough about each other to develop a deeper and more profound relationship, even if it isn’t as emotionally intense.
So, I don’t think we should be beating ourselves up if we don’t always feel the intensity of being newly in love. Intense chemical bonds give way to more intelligent psychological relationships based on more conscious choices. The only problem is if we fail to put in the additional work and time. If we expect the emotional rush to carry on, then we may fail to put in the time and effort necessary.
So I’m happy Tony Robbins wants us to put in the effort. But let’s not beat ourselves up too badly if longer term love turns out to be more gentle and calm sort of thing.