William Shakespeare, speaking about marital love between a man and a woman, said “Love is a many splendored thing.” He is regarded as the best poet and playwright of all recorded history. William Shakespeare lived in the 1500s but scientists are just finding out today that he knew what he was talking about.
The key to staying in love with your wife is embracing the complexity that the challenge of loving your wife brings you. As men we sometimes bow our heads in grief when confronted with this complexity.
But rather, what we have to do, is to accept the many splendored complexity and enjoy it rather than endure it. Drake Baer from Business Insider shows the science behind William Shakespeare quote in his article titled, ‘Here’s The Secret To Staying ‘In Love’ For Decades’:
We usually think that marriages have a few years of impassioned romance before settling down into dependable, if less exciting, friendship.
But lots of couples stay in love.
That’s what Stony Brook University psychologist Daniel O’Leary found in 2012. He conducted a survey of 274 married individuals in the US asking them to rate how in love they were with their partners.
A full 40% of participants said that they were “very intensely in love.”
Similarly, in 2011, Match.com asked 5,200 Americans about how love lasts, and 18% of participants said that they’d experienced romantic love that lasted for over 10 years.
So what gives?
Aaron Ben-Zeev, a philosophy professor at the University of Haifa in Israel and author of “In the Name of Love“, writes in Aeon that it’s a matter of what you seek in relationships. Namely, are you after romantic intensity or romantic profundity?
“Romantic intensity expresses the momentary value of acute emotions,” Ben-Zeev says. “Romantic profundity embodies frequent acute occurrences of intense love over long periods of time along with life experience that resonates in all dimensions, helping the individuals flourish and thrive.”
In other words, romantic intensity is a hit of emotion, which is, of course, fleeting. But profundity is more of a sentiment developed over time. In the same way that seeking out self-realisation is a better predictor of long-term happiness than seeking pleasure, pursuing a relationship that’s rich with meaning is a better bet than demanding one that’s full of thrills.
If you’re looking for that profound, long-burning love, Ben-Zeev says to seek out complexity. “The complexity of the beloved is an important factor in determining whether love will be more or less profound as time goes on”, he says.
It works with music: People can enjoy listening to complex songs again and again, but stop enjoying listening to simple ones.
It’s the same with love, Ben-Zeev argues:
… a simple psychological object is liked less with exposure, while a complex object is liked more.
A complex psychological personality is more likely to generate profound romantic love in a partner, while even the most intense sexual desire can die away.
Sexual desire is boosted by change and novelty and diluted by familiarity. Romantic profundity increases with familiarity of the other person, and the relationship itself, is multifaceted and complex.
In other words, the more meaningful and rich you can help the relationship to become, the more intensely the love can last.
William Shakespeare also said, “Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.” In other words put the effort in and the flowers will grow. The flowers of love can be very fragile and so are our wives. They deserve premium care and that requires effort on our part. Husbands need to learn the lost art of husbandry. So what are you going to do this week for the woman of your dreams? I shall leave it up to your imagination. As I always say, “It is easy to fall in love but you have to fight to stay in love.”
Yours for Staying in Love
PS. I am endeavouring to put my words into practice in the coming weeks by combining our work helping children through Dads4Kids with keeping the love fires burning. My big goal in life is not to become a hypocrite but I press on in the midst of my hypocrisy.
Alison and I have been asked to speak at the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City in Utah, USA. In the midst of all this business I am trying to discover the lost art of husbandry. So after 4 weeks of meetings and conference work across a range of issues in the USA, my goal is to take the woman of my dreams to Paris and then on to Israel to renew our wedding vows ’40 years on’ in Cana of Galilee in Israel. This was the place where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning the water into wine at a rather depleted wedding reception. Hopefully there is some water there I can practice on.
On a practical note Ben Pratt, a wonderful father of four, is stepping into the editorial breach by helping Ron Hellyer while Alison and I are away overseas for the next four weeks. Hopefully the Dads4Kids Board Members will be willing to do the same. On an admin level Patrick Steele, a devoted father of two young children, and the creative driving force behind the Dads4Kids Instagram Photo Competition will keep things ticking over. I will try to give an occasional report of our progress on the road. Thank you for your ongoing support of the important work of Dads4Kids.