Romance and marriage

94

Family Matters

Thomas Kulanjiyil, PsyD, PhD, is a founding member of PARIVAR International. He currently serves on the faculty of College of DuPage. He is co-editor of the book, “Caring for the South Asians-Counseling South Asians in the West.” Dr. Kulanjiyil can be reached at tk@parivarinterntional.org. For any personal or family issues contact Parivar Family Helpline:(877)-743-5711.

By Thomas Kulanjiyil
Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world on February 14 with couples exchanging flowers and gifts as expressions of love and affection to each other. Romance is often associated with Valentine’s Day celebration. The word, “romance” is popularly de-fined as a relationship bet-ween two lovers,” and based on this definition, romance could be between any “lovers” whether it is between two unmarried persons, between an unmarried and married person, or between a couple within the bond of marriage. When romance is placed within the boundary of marriage, it can be understood as the vigor of emotional tie that exists between a husband and a wife which expresses itself in words and deeds.  

In some people’s mind, romance has to do with the honeymoon and the initial feelings following a wedding. When romantic sentiments gradually fade way, such marriages suffer from emotional emptiness and dryness. The association some people make between romance and physical beauty keep them way from enjoying a fulfilling marriage. As physical beauty diminishes in the processes of aging, couples find their partners to be les and less attractive. With passing of time, they experience emotional distancing from one another. As isolation and loneliness increase, marriage comes to a deadlock. 

Our popular culture wants us tolerate pre-marital affairs and extra-marital affairs. Promiscuity has become a way of life. It is argued that “two consenting adults have the right to romantically get involved.” The problem with popular culture is that it places the cart before the oxen. People first get psychologically and sexually involved with someone they think they love, and then think about the consequences. The emotional scars that results from such promiscuous life style are dreadful. 

In order to sustain passionate union between couples, their love must be exclusive and their loyalty total. They must not allow anything to come in between them to thwart their shared trust and fidelity. It is in such a climate that couples can grow in warmth and fondness for each other.  

There are many different ways for couples to show affection. Sexual intimacy is part of it, but romance does not always imply sexual relationship. Exchanging gifts bet-ween spouses on special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, having a special meal under a candle light, eating out at a restaurant, spending a day together without distractions from family or work, and taking a vacation together, all can be romantic.  Because people differ in character traits, living styles, and personal preferences, there are no prescribed ways to build love and romance in a marriage. It is for the couples to discern how to share their love with each other and how to make one’s spouse happy and special.
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