Additional Information for Chapter 3, page 35
The transition from “in love” to real or mature love requires an understanding of “romantic acts.” Romantic acts is discussed fairly thoroughly in The Compatibility Code and in even greater detail under the Prescript icon in this chapter labeled “Romantic Acts”. Before continuing in the present discussion, please read the description of romantic acts in the book or on the web site.
Romantic acts operate as the transitioning agent to engineer the shift from “in love” to “mature love.”
For an understanding of what exactly you are shifting from (being in love) and shifting to (mature love), please read Chapter 3 in The Compatibility Code and supplement that by reading additional material from Prescripts #1, #2, and #3 on this website.
The issue has been well discussed by now. The in-love state lasts on average about two years. If you fall in love and then marry 1½ years later, according to the average you only have about another six months to go. What are you going to do with the next 59½ years?
The answer assumes one of the most fundamental principles of Personality Psychology: Emotion occurs as a response to action. If I do the actions that cue the emotions, then the emotions will occur. Waiting for the emotions, the right feeling, before we do romantic acts is a formula for disaster.
If you are in the first two years, the in-love years, then your emotions are so extreme that actions (romantic acts) occur without effort, without much thought, and often foolishly or extravagantly.
If you are in the final 59½ years a different model needs to be applied: If we don’t feel in love with our partner (a frequent occurrence in even the best relationships) doing the acts that express love rekindles the emotion. Glen Yarborough got it all wrong in his famous song If You Could Read My Mind, when he said “but the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back.” I’ve got a suggestion for Glen. If he starts doing the things he did when he was in love, the feeling would come back!
Another illustration from Hollywood: The 1996 film The Preacher’s Wife tells the story of a preacher who is so obsessed with serving his congregation that his marriage is crumbling. When the wife (played by Whitney Houston) asks Dudley the angel (Denzel Washington) “What do you do when the flame [of passion] goes out?” Dudley tells her “you never let it go out.”
Dudley’s response is psychologically sound. It also assumes that there are actions you can perform that will keep the flame alive. Let’s explore the differences in the activities of a hypothetical in-love couple with the same couple seven years after marriage. Let’s say this couple has not read our book and does not understand the principles of keeping love vibrant. Let’s also say that they fall in the 80% of marriages headed for divorce or suffering significant challenges.
How frequently do the following acts occur?
Comparison of Romantic Acts in 3 Settings: In Love, Troubled Marriage, and Good Marriage
In love phase
- Kisses: 35 a day
- Hugs/embraces: total duration average 40 minutes per day (not counting love making)
- Verbal expressions of affection: average 15 a day
- Number of times touching: average 500 times a day
- Additional snuggle time: as circumstances, allow up to two hours a day
- Frequency of love making (for traditionalists, please assume they are married): at least once a day; more often if they get a chance
- Gifts: 40 times a year
- Flowers: 24 times a year
- Special celebrations: 18 times a year
- Notes, letters, e-mails, phone calls (which type depends on circumstances): twice a day
7 years into a troubled marriage
- Kisses: 1 a day, if they remember or if they’re not mad at each other
- Hugs/embraces: total duration average 10 seconds per day (not counting love making)
- Verbal expressions of affection: average 0 a day
- Number of times touching: average 5 times a day
- Additional snuggle time: rare
- Frequency of love making: hopefully once a week, more likely twice a month if they’re not mad at each other or the kids don’t get in the way
- Gifts: 2-3 times a year (Xmas, birthday, valentines day) usually under severe duress by the spouse, and, troubling consequences if you forget
- Flowers: 2 times a year, at anniversary or in the event of a severe personal violation
- Special celebrations: 2 times a year if lucky, and they’re such a nuisance
- Notes, letters, e-mails, phone calls (which depends on circumstances): only when necessary and almost never an expression of love.
Let us agree that the frequencies for the in-love couple is excessive, so let’s explore a frequency of romantic acts that might be realistic for life and still keep the flame of passion burning brightly: Please don’t take these ideas rigidly. The numbers are only suggestive.
Maintaining a brightly burning flame in a realistic marriage
- Kisses: 2 a day, regardless of how you feel, and make sure they linger long enough to express something: “I really love you” “I really want to have raw, passionate sex with you” “I understand you’re having a difficult day” “I’m 100% with you” “You’re doing a great job!”
- Hugs/embraces: total duration average 30 seconds per day (not counting love making) but be fully present when hugging, and just like with the kisses have it express something.
- Verbal expressions of affection: average 1 a day with feeling
- Number of times touching: average 25 times a day. Whenever you’re near each other, touch.
- Additional snuggle time: Snuggle whenever the situation allows. If you are fortunate enough snuggle extensively in bed [Elizabeth and I can actually go to sleep snuggled together], when you’re watching a video at home, particularly a romantic one.
- Frequency of love making: Create circumstances that allow you to make love with each other as often you would like. Make it a priority.
- Gifts: 2-3 times a year (Xmas, birthday, valentines day) as standard, then 2 or 3 additional times spontaneously.
- Flowers: 4 times a year, and not just when you are in trouble
- Special celebrations: 4 times a year. This provides almost infinite opportunity for creativity. For instance, Elizabeth and I take turns year by year surprising each other with our anniversary celebration. We make it special. Tie vacations into this.
- Notes, letters, e-mails, phone calls (which depends on circumstances): doing this at least once a day is extremely powerful!
This provides an outline. Now consider the specific things that you might do to keep your passion alive by visiting the section titled Romantic acts