Now I know that some of the romantics reading this blog may disagree with me. And believe me, I know how much women love the idea of romance and being loved, protected and rescued by a knight in shining armor. I do write romance, you know :) But both partners must work hard at nurturing the relationship for the love to grow and develop into mature love or the bloom of that fantasy love soon turns into a wilted flower. Don and Sally Meredith cite the progression of a life without relationship in their Christian Family Life Seminar. Here's what that looks like:
Phase 1 - Fantasy Love - The couple meet and date in circumstances that are idyllic and unreal. Then the couple decides to marry.
Phase 2 - Reality - The realities of life come crashing down - job, finances, weaknesses of each spouse, children, illness, trials, in-laws, etc. Feelings begin to fluctuate. The love that the couple initially experienced disappears or is neutralized, and the couple begin to struggle against each other.
Phase 3 - Compromise - This is the point where the couple either divorce or a compromise relationship characterizes the marriage. They resign themselves to a mediocre relationship. Marriage is not a hope, but a problem. The couple avoid anything negative or unpleasant. A sense of believing that one's mate is a hindrance to personal destiny instead of a support and encouragement. Here is the tragic reality - most seemingly "good marriages" are in reality two successful people doing their own thing.
Phase 4: The Day Of Bitterness - A woman becomes fearful as she ages, and a man hardens as he ages. Instead of the golden years, they become the death years. The two generalize their bitterness toward their children, employer, job or life in general.
It's a tragic cycle, but, as pastors, we found it to be all too common. Ask the Lord to energize your marriage and work hard to avoid this destructive pattern. After being married for nearly 50 years now, I can testify that it's worth it ... and my husband and I are more in love today than we were the day we married basking in the glow of fantasy love.