“First you marry, then you fall in love”
In old India, the prevailing philosophy regarding romantic love was, “First you marry, then you fall in love.” While their implied advice about marrying blindly sounds foolish, Indian sages were trying to convey that lasting love occurs primarily when you know someone well.
The high divorce and separation rates for marriage and live-in partners attest to the reality that romantic feelings, even strong ones, do not guarantee relationship success. After the honeymoon phase, romantic attraction gets undermined by the humdrum routine of ordinary life and relationship satisfaction declines.
What then will sustain a romantic relationship built on fantasy? After the smoke clears and the fantasy dissipates, the most important bonding factors become commitment (religious or otherwise), communication (especially being able to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner), and companionship (enjoying one another’s company). These big C’s along with friendship (based on affection, respect, and trust) and emotional responsiveness (sensitivity to one another’s feelings) are the ingredients that solidify a romantic relationship. Equitable distribution of labor in a shared household and a mutually satisfying sex life are also important in keeping a romantic partnership healthy, no matter how unrealistically it started.