Romantic love is more complex than we think, so say Les and Leslie Parrott. Listen to them.
Most of us grow up thinking we understand love. As we grow, we learn love is much more intricate than ever thought. And, there are different types of love to consider, including familial love, friendship, and romantic love.
Marriage has a way of revealing all the ways you can learn to love someone. Sharing your life with another person means you’ll experience things together you never imagined–both good and bad. Through every season of life, your love will be tested. You must be able to continue showing love for one another if you want to strengthen your relationship.
So, what is romantic love, really? Do you “know it when you feel it?” Not exactly.
ROMANTIC LOVE IN 3 PARTS
In the mid-1980s, Yale researchers, led by psychologist and psychometrician Robert Sternberg, began an in-depth study of romantic love. One study, published in 1988, highlighted what Sternbern called the Triangular Theory of Love. This theory states there are three major parts to romantic love, so let’s take a look at what those are.
Passion makes up love’s biological component. It’s driven by hormones and sensations, and it’s that magnetic instinct you feel when you’re strongly attracted to one another. The beginning of a romantic relationship is often characterized by passion and false advertising.
Love’s emotional component is intimacy. This is the deeper connection you form as you get to know one another better. It’s driven by empathy and understanding, and the feeling you “get” each other more than anyone else in the world. It’s a great place to be.
Finally, commitment is the choice you make to love one another on purpose. Anyone who has been in a committed relationship, especially a marriage, understands that there’s no real love without the decision to be faithful until one of you lays the other in the arms of God. It’s on purpose and intentional and unbrekable.
LOVE REQUIRES CONTINUAL NURTURING
Interestingly, one of the conclusions that Sternberg and his team drew about the components of romantic love is that none of them are fixed. They’re always shifting. Because of this, you and your spouse must nurture and cultivate your love on a continual basis.
Now that you understand the three parts of romantic love, find ways to nurture each. How can you encourage more passion in your marriage? More intimacy? Stronger, renewed commitment? Think about the ways you can demonstrate each of these core components for each other.
Romantic love is more complex and requires more effort and intentionality than other forms of love. But pouring into one another is well worth that time and attention. When you’re both cultivating romantic love, you’ll reap the rewards year after year.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER BETTER
Cultivating deeper passion, intimacy, and commitment is easier when you focus on getting to know one another better than ever before. Developing a Servant’s Heart toward one another is a great intimacy builder. Getting over the idea of What’s In It For Me and turning to How Can I Serve You Best is a great place to be. Go back to the NUGGETs on Random Acts of Kindness after you take the Gary Smalley 5 Love Languages Quiz and start loving each other the way they want to be loved. Works every time.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT