With the large number of divorces that have occurred during the past decade you would imagine that someone would write a book on how to stay married in the 1990s. Guess what? They have.
Last week Susan and I were at Lake Tahoe, where I spoke to a group. After I finished we had some free time, so Susan wanted to stop at one of the supermarkets to "buy a few things,"We found one and went inside. She appeared to be buying every third item on aisle E, so I wandered over to the magazine and paperback section at the market. There were the usual women's magazines, romance novels and a variety of other magazines. I think you would understand why the title of one new paperback book caught my attention. It was titled, "Husbands and Wives: A Guide for Men and Women Who Want to Stay Married."
The paperback book was $4.95. I showed it to Susan, and she said she would try to fit it into her budget...and her shopping cart.
We went back to the motel, and I began reading the book. It is fascinating. The authors, Melvyn Kinder and Connell Cowan, are both clinical psychologists in private practice in Los Angeles. They claim that in order to stay married in the 1990s we will have to give up some of the myths we have held about marriage in the past and adopt some new perspectives.
They claim, for instance, it is a myth that "if you truly love each other, romance should continue to flourish." In fact, they claim romance and love are quite different.
Kinder and Cowan note "romantic feelings and love are linked yet vastly different states of mind. Romance is characterized by feelings of rare closeness, ecstasy, longing and idealization...Romance is based more on fantasy than on reality. It is more about what we project into the situation than about what is actually there. Romance is based on mystery, fantasy, hopes and wishes. Our lover's flaws are minimized, and his or her virtues are magnified in our eyes. So as we come to know more about our lover, romance evolves into something more real and substantial, though often less intoxicating."
The two psychologists continue: "Love, however, is based upon information and experience. It takes over where romance leaves off. While romance often leads to love and marriage, it doesn't automatically follow that love leads to romance. Love is about loyalty, fidelity and companionship. It is about shared dreams, tenderness and sexuality. For some couples, the ongoing passion and excitement may also be part of the story. But for others, romance and passion become rare and fleeting experiences in the marriage. In other words, romantic interludes need not be absent from the marriage, but they are not automatic simply because two people love each other."
You can probably find Kinder and Cowan's new book "Husbands and Wives: The Guide for Men and Women Who Want to Stay Married" at your local bookstore. Or, you may find it at a supermarket like I did--somewhere near aisle E.