Relationships That Really Last: Is This the Secret?

In my e-book, How to Build Relationships That Stick, I told over a story I once heard in the name of a famous relationships counselor who talks on radio shows. It was claimed to be an authentic account of something that happened in real life, but even if it's apocryphal, I'm very much inclined to believe it could happen.

A man decided to divorce his wife because, he said, he no longer loved her.

Unfortunately, for some technical reason, he could not file for the divorce for six months. Being a reasonable fellow, he decided to make the most of the situation. Just for the heck of it, he would make a list of all the things he would do, if he truly loved his wife.

So he began doing all those things. And the result? He was soon madly in love with the woman he couldn't stomach a few months earlier.

One thing we can learn from this is that love - I mean real, authentic love, not the Hollywood variety - is the product of giving, not of taking. (See my article: Give-and-take: Recipe for Success in Marriage.) But there's more.

The whimsically romantic notion that love just happens, that Cupid either strikes you with his arrow or he doesn't, is just that. It's a concept that has its place in romantic novels, but it has little to do with real life.

I'm not denying, of course, that chemistry is often an important component in relationships, but at best, it's only part of the story. Anyone who's interested in a lasting, satisfying, "sticky" kind of relationship, the kind that may lead to a lifetime of bliss, knows that he or she has to work hard.

Darned hard. On the first day, the second day, and every day thereafter. Period.

A professor of psychology recently wrote a book with an intriguing title: The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. In an article explaining his rationale for writing the book, Barry Schwartz alludes to the stunning array of choices available to people in modern Western society, in every sphere of their lives.

Just walk into the average supermarket in search of hair-care products, and you may have 300 or more shampoos, conditioners and the like to choose from. In countless areas of life in which we used to have few or no options, we have to make continuous choices. And of course, the present day "explosion of tolerance" for "alternative" lifestyles has given us a further set of choices unknown to our grandparents and which have far reaching implications.

But if it seems logical that having more to choose from should make us happier, in fact the opposite is true. Schwartz quotes the findings of respected researchers that "increased choices and increased affluence have, in fact, been accompanied by decreased well-being."

Now read the story of the guy who wanted to divorce his wife again.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Azriel Winnett is creator of Hodu.com - Your Communication Skills Portal. This popular free website helps you improve your communication and relationship skills in your business or professional life, in the family unit and on the social scene. New articles added almost daily. Visit Azriel's blog at: http://hodu.com/blog.

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