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Love, Romance, and Expectations

Keeping Great Expectations Realistic
By Dr. James Walton

By the late 1500’s, the idea of marriage based on love had taken hold in Europe inspiring Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  Shakespeare’s work explored the ecstasies of passion and the devastating consequences of fiery passion not balanced with a realistic perspective.

It was their unrealistic expectations that swept them off their feet and carried them off to their tragic end.  What was true in the time of Shakespeare continues to hold true today; if we allow our expectations of love to run our romance, we will never see the marriage in a realistic light.  Our unrealistic expectations will kill our relationship.

Statistically, arranged marriages experience lower rates of divorce than love based marriages because they do not have the luxury of depending on love to carry them through.  If their marriage is going to survive, they have to make decisions based upon what is good for the relationship.  What is true for them is also true for you.  If your marriage is going to survive, then you must base your decisions on what is good for the relationship above what is good for you alone.

We often expect marriage, and surely our spouses, to rescue us from our feelings of isolation and loneliness.  Love will conquer all.  It will not.  Marriage is not a solution for loneliness.  Two can be a lonelier number than one.

To improve your marital odds, lower your expectations of what your marriage is going to do for you.  Healthy relationships are created by our participation in them.

Your marriage should be treated as a living being under your care whose health is dependent upon your attention.  To have a successful marriage, you must become its loving servant to enjoy all the gifts that a healthy and loving relationship can bring.

Dr. James E. Walton, Ph.D. is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a private practice in Sherman Oaks. Visit his website at LAtherapist.com or call 818-753-4865.