How Love Grows– Part 2
The next stage of love’s growth could be described as “Love Performs.” Or to say it similar to how Bernard said it, “I love you for what you do for me.” Obviously, part of our experience of love at this stage is the good feelings we each have as we do things for each other.
Sometimes the doing for each other is defined by role assignments. The husband takes care of providing and for doing things to the outside of the house, and the wife takes care of the kids, food, and things inside the house. At this stage, the sense that we are emotionally close isn’t felt as an issue. The good feelings I have as you do things for me help me feel emotionally close to you. Things have to be negotiated and that takes time. If both spouses work, the question of who makes dinner is to be negotiated.
But eventually resentments begin to develop. If we are trying to be 50/50 on our division of doing things, it doesn’t feel so good if I feel like I am doing 55% and you’re only doing 45%. There is also the problem that behaviors that feel good to the other person, but are repeated over a period of time, become expected. They are no longer rewarding. And for a while we have to keep thinking of new rewarding behaviors to keep the feelings of love alive. Eventually the “Thanks so much, honey. You’re so helpful,” becomes “I can’t believe you didn’t take out the trash this morning.”
When we reach this point, staying stuck at stage two and not adding the third stage to the growth of love, we begin to lose the sense of connection. That’s when a couple often comes to counseling with the complaint, “He/she doesn’t meet my needs anymore.” Obviously, these couples need to recapture the benefits of this second stage of love before they can move on to the third stage of love, which is our goal. Here’s when the husband often needs to initiate change.
You can begin by talking about your expectations. You can also make a list of caring behaviors your spouse could do for you to show they care. LIttle things that are observable make a difference. And third, talk about your sexual relationship and especially talk about your hopes and desires for the future.
Question: Where is your marriage relationship in connection with this stage of love’s growth?