Dr. Patricia Love is a marriage and family therapist in Austin, TX and a charter faculty member of the Imago Institute for Relationship Therapy. She has co-authored three books, including the bestselling Hot Monogamy: Essential Steps to More Passionate, Intimate Lovemaking. For more information about Dr. Love – or her workshops, seminars, and books – visit her website at www.patlove.com or click here.
In this very personal column, Dr. Patricia Love shares her private and professional experience with divorce.
SINCE the last time my column appeared in Divorce Magazine I have been through the most difficult year of my life. If you had told me this time last year that I would be going through a divorce, I would have said “I’m sorry… you have me confused with someone else.” And yet, here I stand. My heart has suffered; my health has suffered; my family and friends have suffered. I thought seriously about not continuing to write this column. So why did I?
I continue for the same reasons I’ve been writing here in this place for the past ten years. I continue because I want a happy marriage to be available to anyone who wants it, regardless of social or economic status. And I continue because I hope that my experience, as well as my research, can be of benefit to you and those you touch.
I have learned a lot in a year; some things I’ve learned from experience, other things I’ve learned from my study of relationships and divorce over the years. I want to share some of what I’ve learned with you.
- I have learned that people who say divorce is the easy way out probably haven’t been divorced.
- I have learned that no-fault divorce is an oxymoron. First of all, whether you are at fault or not, people will ascribe fault to you. Also, in this day and age if one person wants a divorce – you will be divorced. You can slow it down if you have enough time, money or credit – but you will be divorced.
- I have learned that when you do your best, it doesn’t prevent pain but it does prevent remorse.
- I have learned that love is blind – but the neighbors aren’t.
- I have learned that during rough times your belief will get you through – and this is ultimately what influences your children.
- I have learned that there are some things in marriage one person can change – and some things that take both people to change. One person can change communication patterns; one person can stop an argument; one person can pour more love into the relationship; one person can be a more receptive sex partner.
- One person can do a lot, but one person cannot do it all.
- I have learned that we still have a long way to go in teaching The Truth about Love; simple truths such as: Infatuation is not love. From my experience I would say infatuation is the cause of 70% of all divorces. Chemistry is not love. Sexual desire is not love. Sexual desire has as much to do with hormones as relationship harmony.
- We don’t know the truth about love; that you can be with the perfect partner and have little or no sexual desire depending upon your physiology. And if your thyroid is imbalanced, your partner can’t give you enough love for you to feel it. Once your stress level reaches a certain point, you cannot be intimate. The primary source of stress, by the way, is multi- tasking (and women are some of the worst offenders.)
- Another truth I’ve discovered about love is the deepest moments of intimacy and connection occur when you are not talking. In fact, talking makes many matters worse, not better.
- Relationships are about so much more than communication. Sociopaths are great communicators!
Additional truths I have learned that are related to love:
- One in 25 people has no guilt about lying and deceiving.
- One in 25 people has no guilt about being physically or emotionally abusive.
- One in 25 people has no guilt about keeping the family in fear because of unpredictable mood swings.
- One in 25 people has no guilt about exposing their partner to sexually transmitted diseases which can cause gynecological and urinary problems, not to mention cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS.
- One in 25 people has no guilt about gambling away the family’s financial resources.
- One in 25 people has no guilt about depleting the other person’s retirement account for their own person gain.
- The truth about love is: Without proper guilt or ownership, there will be no change.
- The truth is: Love is not enough. Some 80% of couples who divorce say they still love each other. A commitment to marriage has to include a commitment to being a decent human being to live with.
As I said, I have learned a lot this year. I have learned that divorce is not the enemy of marriage; in fact divorce protects the integrity of marriage. Lack of accurate information is the enemy of marriage – and we are not through learning. Even research can be misleading because you cannot reduce marriage and divorce to one common denominator. Statistics predict for groups better than individuals and correlation does not equal cause. For example, statistically speaking, married people are fatter than single people. Does this mean that marriage makes you fat? Or is being fat a constraint that makes you stay married?
Do we have all the answers? No. There are still important areas for research and we all – even the “experts” – still have so much to learn about marriage and divorce.