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'Romantic realism': the seven rules to help you avoid divorce

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jan/10/romantic-realism-the-seven-rules-to-help-you-avoid-divorce

theguardian.com

'Romantic realism': the seven rules to help you avoid divorce
We expect love to be the source of our greatest joys. But, in practice, it is one of the most reliable routes to misery. Few forms of suffering are ever as intense as those we experience in relationships. An estimated 42% of marriages in Britain end in divorce; 30% of people in couples describe themselves as "actively unhappy but unable to leave".

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Perfection is unrealistic

Perfection is unrealistic

Whomever we get together with will be radically imperfect in a host of deeply serious ways. We must kill the idea that things would be ideal with any other creature in this galaxy. There can only ever be a “good enough” relationship.

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Learn to blame love

When difficulties strike in relationships, we often fall prey to the idea that we are going out with a foolish human. The sadness must be someone’s fault: and we conclude that the blame has to lie with the partner. At an extreme, we exit the relationship far too early. 

We blame our lover in order not to blame love itself, the truer but more elusive target.

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Love makes irrational demands

The person we love becomes involved in some of the grandest and most complex matters we ever undertake: we ask them to be our lover, our best friend, our confidant, our nurse, our financial adviser, our social partner, and our sex mate.
The job description is so long and so demanding, that no one in the standard employment market could conceivably deliver perfectly on even a fraction of the demands

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Striving to love

Striving to love

We start out knowing only about being loved. To the child, it feels as if the parent is spontaneously on hand to comfort, guide, entertain, feed and clear up while remaining almost always warm and cheerful. 

Plenty of parents don’t reveal how often they have bitten their tongue, fought back the tears and been too tired to take off their clothes after a day of childcare. We should renounce the desire to be loved and instead strive to love.

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Relationships require administration

What a couple gets up to over a lifetime has much more in common with the workings of a small business. They must draw up work rosters, clean, cook, fix, throw away, mind, hire, fire, reconcile and budget.

None of these activities have a glamourous halo. And yet these tasks are what is truly “romantic” in the sense of “conducive and sustaining of love” and should be interpreted as the bedrock of a successful relationship.

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Sex and love

The general view expects that love and sex will be aligned. But in truth, they won’t stay so beyond a few months or, at best, one or two years.
This is not anyone’s fault. Relationships in the long term have other key concerns (companionship, administration, another generation). 

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We’re not that compatible

The right person is expected to be someone who shares our tastes, interests and general attitudes to life. This might be true in the short term. Over an extended period of time, the relevance of this fades dramatically; differences inevitably emerge.

It is the one with a capacity to tolerate difference that is the true marker of the right person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.

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The cultural backdrop

For most of recorded history, people got married for logical pragmatic sorts of reasons.

Since around 1750, we have been living in an era in the history of love that we can call Romanticism w...

The Romantic template

  • Romanticism tells us that a long-term marriage can have all the excitement of a love affair.
  • Romanticism proposed that true love must mean an end to all loneliness.
  • Romanticism believed that choosing a partner should be about letting oneself be guided by feelings, rather than practical considerations.
  • Romanticism believes that true love is synonymous with accepting everything about someone.

The Romantic script is delusional

It's normative points include:

  • we should meet a person of extraordinary inner and outer beauty and immediately feel a special attraction to them, and they to us
  • we should understand one another intuitively
  • we don’t need an education in love
  • we should have no secrets and spend constant time together
  • we should raise a family without any loss of intensity
  • our lover must be our soulmate, best friend, co-parent, co-chauffeur, accountant, household manager and spiritual guide