The idea of "mature love" was first suggested to me in the book "Lies at the Altar" by Robin L. Smith. The idea has flabbergasted me for months now. The truth is, I suck at it.
What is it? It's the love of life-long beautiful marriages. Not the romantic love filled with infatuation that initially draws me to someone . Mature love is the stuff that comes after and lasts for 10, 20, even 70 years. It's day-to-day love. It's going to work everyday, cleaning the house every weekend and paying bills every month love. It's real love - with frustrations and conflict and real experiences. I don't know how to do it.
Like many others, I am addicted to romantic love. It has actually been scientifically proven that infatuation and romance are addicting. Similar to a runner's high, new lovers experience a spike in dopamine and norepinephrine (like adrenaline). Lovesickness is real...and when things settle down, I begin to fret about the state of the relationship scrutinizing every move, every word, every second of silence for a clue on how to "fix" it. I know, I am ridiculous. And only because there are no pressing issues in my relationshiop right now, I can write about this. But next week, I am sure I'll come up with something to get all spun up about.
I desire to head it off at the pass, though. I want to learn how to be a grown-up in a relationship. But in a year or so, when the infatuation wears off, what do I do?
Robin L. Smith says the first step is to "show up as a grown up." Not as a little girl fulfilling a fantasy, not as a teenager looking to offset the bad stuff from a childhood, not as a young adult trying to impress your friends.
I know that one of my biggest roadblocks to mature love is the unsettled crap between the father figures in my life and myself. I never got approval from my father or my stepfather and so I live and die by the approval of my significant other.
Smith also says, "Whatever we focus on is what grows." I know that I cannot change another, so I must focus on myself if I am ever to get this right. According to Suzanne Harill, "Healing your past, building self-esteem, dealing with feelings and speaking from your own experience" are all ways to change yourself in a relationship. Doing such things, will ultimately impact your partner, your relationship, and your future.
My friend once told me that marriage isn't meant to complete us, it is an opportunity to share our complete lives with someone special. I know that in order for a marriage to work, I have to find a way to let go of my expectations of a fairy tale. I know that I am on my way. I know that I have progressed in the last year, but I still have a ways to go. Hopefully, my partner is willing to be patient and to walk side by side with me as I take these steps toward mature love.
In my research, I found this article on the three stages of love. Check it out: http://www.womensmedia.com/relationships-love-stages.htm