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

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

'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

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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). 

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.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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

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Improve Any Relationship
  • Acknowledge the opinions, feelings and needs of others
  • Be more open to suggestions and compromises
  • Give 100% of your attention to the job
  • Spend ...
Understand your attachment style

We come out of our family of origin with a blueprint of how we attach to others. The closer someone is to another person, the greater the likelihood that their attachment style can becom...

Identify your triggers

Journal about the experiences in your relationship that trigger behaviors you experience as self-sabotaging. Ask yourself: What was happening? What did you feel at the time? What were you afraid of? How likely is it that the outcome you feared would happen?

Having an awareness of what triggers these behaviors can prepare us for the inevitable conflicts that arise.

Be mindful of your behavior

Insecurity in relationships is inevitable because everybody has issues to work on.

It’s critical to know what yours are. With this insight, a person can then stop negative behaviors, learn to tolerate the discomfort, and engage in alternative and more healthy behavior.

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We Don't Understand Ourselves

We don't realize that we are a bundle of contradictions and are trying to look for someone who can understand us, while we haven't been able to understand ourselves yet.

We think we are a gre...

We Don't Understand Others

Like us, other people are stuck in the same low-level self-realization: we try to gauge the other person by their looks or family or social status, which is a futile exercise in most cases.

We Don't Know Happiness

We aren't accustomed to being happy or have a misguided idea of what happiness is.

We find the ones who would be right for us, to be wrong for us, because of our lack of experience in what good is, and the fact that we don't associate love with being happy and fulfilled.

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Falling in love

To us, being loved in a relationship is perhaps the highest ideal. It gives our lives meaning and purpose. Being loved validates our sense of self-esteem and soothes our fears of loneliness.

Whom We Find Attractive

Our self-esteem, mental and emotional health, positive and negative life experiences, and family relations all influence whom we’re attracted to. 

The Ideal Stage of Romance

There is an amount of healthy idealization that helps us fall in love.

However, if we’re depressed or have low self-esteem, we’re more likely to idealize a prospective partner and overlook signs of trouble, such as unreliability or addiction, or accept disrespectful or abusive behavior. A lack of a support system or loneliness might also blind us to potential faults.

It is far better to first deal with these concerns before entering into a relationship.

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The forms of love

Love is not just found in romantic love directed at one person.

Love includes the depth of close friendships, the sense of belonging in a community, the intensity of an artistic practice...

It takes a village to feel loved

In history, marriage was a pragmatic institution. A sense of identity was more embedded in community, and not solely in marriage.

The shift to individualism and choice has meant that we feel the need to find our identity in an all-encompassing romantic partnership. We are asking from one person what once an entire village used to provide.

Recognising that one person can't be your everything can help you find a broader definition of love.

The love of friendship

Sharing your experiences with others is an essential ingredient to feeling connected.

This conncection doesn't have to come in the form of a partner or having friends around you all the time. Rather, it is the quality of your close relationships that has an impact on your well being.

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Romanticism

Romanticism emerged as an ideology in Europe in the mid-18th century in the minds of poets, artists and philosophers, and it has now conquered the world. 

It has permeated our culture wi...

Romanticism is deeply hopeful

It tells us that marriage can have all the excitement of a love affair and the feelings of love should prevail over a life-time. 

Romanticism proposes 

... that true love end loneliness. It promised that the right partner would understand us fully without words.

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Unresolved conflicts

The idea that couples must communicate and resolve all of their problems is a myth. The truth is, trying to resolve a conflict can sometimes create more problems than it fixes.

Being honest

The last person you should ever have to censor yourself with is the person you love.

It’s important to make something more important in your relationship than merely making each other feel good all of the time. The feel-good stuff happens when you get the other stuff right.

Being willing to end it

Romantic sacrifice is idealized in our culture. 

Sometimes the only thing that can make a relationship successful is ending it at the appropriate time, before it becomes too damaging. And the willingness to do that allows us to establish the necessary boundaries to help ourselves and our partner grow together.

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Rekindling the Fire

Many couples have reached a cozy state of companionship. The humdrumness of life affects the long-term relationship.

It is not uncommon to lose the 'fire' and is unrealistic to expect consis...

Love Progression

As the initial stage of love fades away, a deeper, richer sense of each other should take its place, and couples can find more ways to make things interesting and fun.

Look With New Eyes

Staying curious about each other and finding things, memories, places, and activities that are yet to be shared or experienced together is a great way to rekindle the relationship.
Revisiting your past and finding ways to connect better by looking at the other with 'new' eyes makes us see many things that were overlooked earlier.

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Solutions To Basic Communication Mistakes
  • Criticism: complain without blame.
  • Content: regularly express appreciation, gratitude, affection, and respect for your partner.
  • Defensiveness: accept respo...
Couples Who Stayed Together
  • When disconnected, they ache for reconciliation. 
  • avoid blaming each other in arguments or disputes, 
  • try to meet one another’s needs 
  • parent each other a little
  • understand that the future and relationships are uncertain.
Potential External Threats

Be proactive about warding off threats to your relationship. Avoid lots of time apart, or unwise behavior such as hanging out with people you used to be on/off with.

You can’t guarantee fidelity, but you can do your best to make the relationship the container that you each value so highly, that going elsewhere isn’t desirable.

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