Three Essential Ingredients of Romantic Love
Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions,
give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
I Corinthians 16:13-14
If you were creating a recipe for romantic love, what would be your top ingredients?
A "hot" body?
Great in bed?
Reads your mind and meets all your expectations?
It is interesting that there is now a mountain of new research that reveals what matters most. Quoting Dr. Les Parrott, Robert Sternberg, a Yale University psychologist, says it basically comes down to three ingredients:
Passion - the biological part of love:
This is the spine-tingling sensation that moves us toward romance. It starts with our hormones. It's sensual and sexual, characterized by physiological arousal and an intense desire for affection. It helps if it fulfills the "Goods" we talk about...looks good, smells good, tastes good, sounds good, feels good. Caveat, this requires the other ingredients we will talk about and much intentionality. It's more about what you choose to DO rather than how you feel. If you work at it, it will come and build a nest and stay.
Intimacy - the emotional part of love:
Love without intimacy is only a hormonal illusion. Without intimacy, we are reduced to animals in heat. You can't desire another person over the long haul without really knowing that person. Intimacy has a "best friend" or "soul mate" quality about it. We all want someone who knows us better than anyone else--and still accepts us. Don't you secretly long for someone who holds nothing back from you, someone who trusts you with personal secrets. It's about giving someone else the right to hurt you and trusting them not to. Intimacy is a warm place to cuddle up on a cold evening in your pajamas and keep each other warm inside and out. We are all made for relationship and Intimacy draws us together.
Commitment - the willful part of love:
Commitment looks toward a future that cannot be seen and promises to be there - until death. "Without being bound to the fulfillment of our promises," writes philosopher Hannah Arendt, "we would be condemned to wander helplessly in the darkness of each person's lonely heart." Scott Stanley identifies 3 "Cs" about relationships: Communication, Conflict Resolution and Commitment.
Commitment creates a small island of certainty in the swirling waters of uncertainty. As the mooring of marriage, commitment secures love for your partner when passion burns low and intimacy wanes. Commitment says, "I love you because you are you, not because of what you do or how I feel." It's the kind of promise that says "I will be here for the duration until one of us lays the other in the arms of God." No caveats, no exceptions, all-in.
Contrary to what entertainment media would have us believe there is absolutely no way you can expect to wake up every morning of your married life and have all three of these ingredients present at their highest intensity. Ain't gonna happen for anybody. But, here is the secret, you can enjoy a lifetime of romance if you work on cultivating passion, intimacy and commitment.
The sad reality of our time is that we have been sold a bill of goods that these things should be at their peak all our lives in equal measure. Not only is that wrong on so many counts, nobody in our culture uniformly teaches any of us how to meld all these ingredients into a recipe for success.
The good news is that any of you with willing spirits can learn to create this compelling recipe in your own marriage. That's what we and countless other relationship educators, coaches, therapists, and mentors are about. Find someone near you who knows how and can help you learn how to cook this up. Ummmm, good!
One Final Note
How about you? How are the two of you doing when it comes to these three? As you consider the three ingredients of love, which ones do you need to work on most and what will you do about it? Only 9 days until Valentines Day. Need some help, drop us line.