It was a cool, crisp, but sunny day in Manhattan. I was delighted to be engaged in a lively conversation with a 27 year old cousin of mine that I had just met. Our conversation lead to an older couple we both know. He was shocked at the revelation of the wife that she was no longer in love with her husband of 50 years. He couldn’t understand how people could stay married when they were no longer in love. I smiled inside my head and was reminded of his youth with such a declaration and wondered if I would react as he was reacting to such news when I was his age.
When do we learn that falling in love with and loving someone are two different concepts and that one can exist without the other. Falling in love is just that, a fall, almost like an accident. Unknowingly you fall into something unexpected. It is exciting and fun being high on dopamine. I have fallen in love more times than I can remember. It can turn into love.
Love is a more conscious and deliberate choice. I truly can say that I love only a few people in my life and that love will not fade away and weathers all kinds of storms. Love makes you stay or leave depending on your situation. Love is clear. Love does not expect, demand, or judge. Love does not have to make sense and this is the quality it shares with “falling in love”. They are both a condition of the heart and not of the mind.
I thought about the couple who were still together despite not being in love and I recalled the wife’s answer to my cousin’s question, “We have children and grandchildren now. What is the point of leaving him now?” I wonder if she is still looking for that feeling of falling in love and wonders if it is lost to her for good. I wonder if she truly wants to end her marriage or just doesn’t feel the love anymore.
What makes two people stay together in a marriage is still a mystery to me. I coach many clients who are in what may seem like a dysfunctional marriage to many for reasons that change every week. Marriage is a legal contract and as such it is binding even after the love is gone. That is the main reason people stay married in unhappy marriages. Many are also wise enough to know that it takes two and if the relationship is not a happy one, perhaps they need to take a good look at themselves first.
All of this was running through my head as we continued walking up 5th Avenue. I smiled thinking about all that he is yet to learn and experience in life and hoped that he wouldn’t have his heart broken knowing well that it was sure to happen!
If you are in the process of re-evaluating your marriage or relationships and need help making a decision, you may want to consider spiritual life coaching. Spiritual life coaching is a process where the client is always in the driver’s seat and the coach provides a safe space for exploration. If you are interested in a 30 minute complimentary coaching conversation, please contact me.