Relationships: Choosing Love that Lasts

It is easy to look around and see that relationships everywhere, and in particular, marriages are in serious trouble. I can not speak for other nations around the world, but at least in the US it can be hard to find good examples of healthy happy marriages.

This makes me mad.

I am a strong believer in marriage. As a Christian, I take seriously the sanctity of marriage, believing that two people are joined together and become one, and that this union is not easily separated. Divorce is so painful and devastating because it attempts to rip apart something that was made into one unit. Divorce is never an ideal scenario. No one hopes that their children will one day grow up and get divorced. And yet I meet with so many couples who blindly believe that divorce will magically resolve the problems of a painful marriage. It will not. Some pains will be minimized, but other new ones will emerge. Of course, there are some situations where no other solution exists, but lets be clear: it is not the first choice.

A healthy marriage is the best option.

I realize that this may feel like an unobtainable option for some of you. Years of damage and pain in a marriage may leave you questioning if your relationship can ever be healthy again. It can. It will take work, lots of long hard work. And you will have to wipe the slate clean and commit to starting again. I know that’s not easy, but it is necessary.

So wouldn’t the easier answer be to just start with a foundation of a healthy happy marriage, rather than having to engage in the “undoing” process: undoing and unlearning bad habits and hurtful patterns? ABSOLUTELY YES!

My audience for this post is hopefully those who are not yet married. Single, dating, engaged: please listen.

Who you choose to marry and the habits and patterns you form at the beginning of your relationship will have a greater impact on your life than anything else. Ever. I can not emphasize this point enough.

And yet, we begin relationships based on some of the most ridiculous information we gather about others, often allowing our hormones and genitals to have more input than our brains or what we truly know about ourselves, the world, and what makes relationships work. Yes, sex and physical attraction are important parts of a relationship. But love does not equal attraction. And the physical chemistry that initially brought you together may not amount to a hill of beans when you are in your sixties and are desperately seeking ways to keep your relationship alive.

Love is a choice. You are not simply on board a ship that will take you wherever it wants against your control. You determine the course. You choose to make love work, and you create the foundation for your relationship. You either do this consciously or unknowingly, but either way it is your own creation.

Make wise, conscious decisions. Be purposeful in the foundation you build.

As I begin this blog series, Choosing Love that Lasts, I first want to awaken AWARENESS in you. You are in control of the choices you make. And it is very difficult to change what you do not realize you are doing. Take a long hard look at yourself and the patterns you see in your relationships. Are they things you would want to build a marriage on? Will they stand the course of time? What is working, and what needs to be revamped? We will cover some ways to build a strong foundation for a lasting relationship. It is never too early to start the process. Every effort you make to establish a healthy relationship before marriage will save you years of undoing in later years, so put the work in now. You will not be sorry.

About Liz Fava, LPC

Liz provides individual and couples therapy for adults, including counseling for dating, engaged, and married couples. She also conducts couples workshops, and training and supervision for therapists.