♥♥♥Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. It is a special day of romance in which couples indulge in chocolates and cuddly teddy bears adorned with hearts. The evening sets the scene for an intimate candlelit dinner for two with menus that have been tweaked a little to inspire and savour that sweet moment of love. Shops everywhere accommodate for this love fest selling anything with hearts on them. Bouquets of flowers are crafted with the finest of nature’s beauty in preparation for the arrival of Romeo who wishes to melt the heart of his special Juliet. Lovers find themselves carefully selecting from hundreds of Valentine ’s Day cards to declare their unending love. The choices of cards are endless catering to the simple messages of “I will love you forever”, to the more poetic Shakespeare inspired love notes.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated by many couples at different stages of their relationships. There will be the first timers experiencing the joy of butterflies and long lingering eye contact whilst frozen in a moment of togetherness oblivious to the existence of others outside their cocoon of love♥.
There will be the newlyweds reminiscing about their wedding day and engaging in tender conversation about the future they dream of making together♥.
Couples with children have made special arrangements with sitters to take the time out and enjoy the quietness of just the two of them♥. Sighing in relief that they can now eat a gorgeous meal with no interruptions or parental demands placed upon them for just that short while.
The midlifer’s have enjoyed many Valentines Days in times past♥. As they sit together surrounded by all of the different couples celebrating Valentine’s Day they may find it challenging to have a conversation. One of the partners may be consumed with thoughts of worry and concern over their adult children whilst the other may be contemplating what the future holds for them in terms of financial security and work. When a partner has struggled with health issues amongst all of the other possible pressures it is easy to understand the temptation at that point to question where the special spark has gone that had once been present. Frustration and emptiness knocks on the door and introduces themselves to the midlife couple. There may be deep hurt to process as life has taken its toll and the sense of drive and focus that they once both shared has vanished somewhere into the past! As both partners experience a variety of emotional and physical challenges it almost seems unfair that an enormous amount of commitment is now required in order to connect. They are faced with what seems like a mountain of rubble and stress that has impacted their relationship.
Being in a marriage or long term relationship certainly can test the commitment when life’s trials and difficulties pound on each partner like huge uncontrollable waves.
Last year as I was studying a particular unit in Psychology I came across some information that I thought to share with others who may be wondering where their spark or passion has gone in their relationship.
The information or research I found was titled Classifying Love. In an effort to classify love researchers have found that there are two different types of love. The first type of love which is usually experienced at the start of a relationship is called “passionate love”, the other is companionate love. Companionate love refers to deep affection, friendship and emotional intimacy. At the beginning of a relationship “passionate love” is at the top of the list and then overtime it begins to diminish. Passionate love is discussed as a wildly emotional condition with intense physiological arousal and absorption in another person. Researchers state that “passionate love” tends to make a comeback on occasions throughout the relationship. Companionate love is at its lowest in the beginning yet it tends to grow over time and is the glue that holds a relationship together (Burton, Westen & Kowalski 2012, p. 740). Companionate love overtakes passionate love.
In Midlife it takes commitment to grow in a love that is based on deep affection, friendship and emotional intimacy♥. At certain times the commitment can be stretched outrageously and may show signs of failure.
Who would argue against a passionate love relationship 24/7. That concept is not realistic despite the mixed messages we may receive watching a romantic movie. Romantic movies portray love passionately. We can get confused about relationships if we measure or compare it to the 90 mins of passion and love on a t.v. or movie screen.
True love is not based on feelings alone as we would like it to be. Yes we recognise that the feelings are the strongest at the beginning of a relationship however feelings change when pressure and stress enter through the door uninvited and as it progresses to a long term relationship.
This Valentine’s Day if you find yourself questioning the absence of sparks don’t see it as failure. Consider the season you may be in at the moment. While it may require more of you in terms of commitment than you have energy for, I trust that what I have shared with you today will inspire you!
Don’t be too hard on yourself or your relationship if you are struggling to hold it together in a difficult season.
The absence of sparks is not the sign of a bad relationship it is a sign that you are in a different place requiring more effort and work which will include rewards along the way♥.
Happy Valentine’s Day ♥♥