I was watching Dr. Berman’s show, In the Bedroom. She was counseling a couple, Trish and Rick, about their marriage. As they delved into how they met, it was clear that their relationship was based on the concept of love at first sight.
In the seventies, Trish was working as a receptionist in a dental office. Rick walked in and was completely awestruck by Trish’s beauty. When he left the Dentist’s office that day, he turned to Trish and said, “I’m going to marry you.” Within months, they were married. Rick told Dr. Berman, “I knew she was the one within the first five minutes. As they say, [it was] love at first sight. I found the girl that I was going to marry.”
Two kids and almost fifteen years later, they are on the brink of divorce. And how they met is definitely at the front and center of their issues.
Trish is still holding tight to the promise her husband made to her that she would never have to worry about anything, never have to work, and that he would always take care of her. Rick’s lucrative career as a real estate broker came to a screeching halt with the turn of the economy. They had to sell the dream house they built together and move into a smaller home. Their marriage is now riddled with issues that affect their communication, finances, sex life, and happiness. Trish now lives in a bubble of constant sadness, resentment, and anger toward her husband and cannot get past the fact that she now has to work a part-time job.
Love at first sight is about attraction, beauty, passion, physique, and curves. It is the pretty red bow on a beautifully wrapped gift. The problem comes when you have no desire to peek at what’s inside the box. You introduce him or her to your friends and family or you decide to get married. After all, this was meant to be. As long as everything stays the same, life is perfect.
Once you untie the bow and rip the paper off, you trade romantic notions for the unknown. You find out what is really inside of the other person; whether you are compatible, how well you communicate, whether you get along with each other’s family, what values you share, and whether or not you want to have kids. You find out if that person can meet your needs, make you happy, share your interests, support your goals, and be there when times are rocky.
Trish and Rick kept the bow on. Rick was presented with his ideal manifestation of physical beauty. Trish was presented with her ideal notion of marriage; being a princess in a castle with everything taken care of behind the scenes. Once life ripped off the wrapping paper, they both were presented with events and challenges that clashed with their expectations of what marriage was really about. It turned out to be way more than choosing bridesmaid dresses, cake-testing, wearing a tiara, and taking a seven-day honeymoon.
Attraction can be instant but lasting relationships take time. Don’t fall prey to the illusion of love at first sight. Sure, there are couples who wed days after they met and are still together. They are the exception, not the rule. And staying together and being happy are two completely different things.
Love, like anything, takes practice and patience. And it rarely looks like what you see in movies, books, and television. Few people end up with the love of their life on the very first try. For some, it may take multiple tries to get it right. So take your time and make sure that what you have inside the box is just as wonderful as the wrapping.