When a man or woman is getting divorced, oftentimes, people will say, "Oh, I'm so sorry," and ask, "What happened?" A common response: "We fell out of love." This post poses the question, Are you sure? Could you have fallen out of "like?"
There are countless reasons for getting divorced, but for the purpose of this post, let's exclude the biggie deal breakers: cheating, addiction or verbal and physical abuse. One of those could be the real reason for the divorce of a person who says "we fell out of love," but let's just say none of those were an issue in the demise of someone's marriage.
Let's focus on "we fell out of love."
I have a friend who is going through a divorce right now, and "we fell out of love" is her explanation. I don't know her husband very well, but I happened to see him the other day, and I just kept looking at him thinking, "Why did these two really sweet, smart, ambitious, kind, people (who have one child and are both great parents) fall out of love? Why?!"
I was seriously considering calling my friend and asking if she would be willing to meet me with her husband for a third party unbiased counseling session. I am not a therapist; I have zero credentials in the psychiatric or marital counseling field, but for some reason I felt like I might be able to help them.
Why? Because in this particular relationship, nothing really bad happened. My guess (and I could be completely wrong) is just that the two of them got on a bad path of non-communication and instead of talking things through, one or both harbored resentment for years. When one of them started talking divorce, they probably went to marriage counseling, but at that point it was just too late. There could have been years when one or both felt lonely and sad and that their marital situation was hopeless.
We all know that feeling of being in a relationship gone bad and desperately trying to get those feelings back. You pray, "I wish I could just snap my fingers and be in love again," but you just can't. The love is just too far gone.
That makes the key to a successful relationship nipping any bad feelings in the bud by addressing them, tackling them and solving the issues immediately. And, by both people caring and nurturing the relationship so much that they make their love their number one priority. The best way to explain it is this: If your child has the flu, you do everything you can to nurse him or her back to health, right? You don't say, "I'll deal with this later." Your child's illness comes before everything else in your life. That's how a married couple should act when their relationship is "not feeling well."
Now, you might be thinking, "Jackie, you have no idea what happened. People are constantly changing, and maybe the attraction they had 15 years ago changed when they changed." That might be true, which leads me to what I think is the key to avoiding "we fell out of love:"
MARRY SOMEONE YOU LIKE.
Not just someone you love. Like is actually more important and much more powerful than love. Like is what makes a relationship withstand the test of time.
Do you like being with the person, just hanging out doing nothing? Do you enjoy having conversations with the person? Do you respect his or her values and ethical standards? Does he/she make you laugh? Do you just plain, old like being in the same room?
People who genuinely like each other have a better chance of not falling out of love with someone.
Here's the thing. There's no one who loves a good love story more than I do. I'm a huge fan of that period of time (which could last forever) when the relationship is exciting and fun and romantic: the candle-lit dinner dates where you sit and drink wine and talk for hours, the times you get home and rip each other's clothes off, the hugs where you want to squeeze the person for a year and not let go.
Love is wonderful. There's no better feeling. But, don't underestimate the importance of like. It's big. Love gets the headlines, but like is what lasts.