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Rekindling the ROMANCELOVING THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE
By Dennis Rainey Barbara Rainey Bob DeMoss
Nelson BusinessCopyright © 2007 Dennis & Barbara Rainey with Bob DeMoss
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNew Love Is Easy
Once upon a time ...
There's nothing like a fairy tale to arouse delight in the soul of a little girl. As her mom turns the colorful storybook pages, her heart dances with anticipation. She knows the handsome prince must ride his tall white horse through the storm to rescue a fair maiden-before it's too late. She can barely contain herself when, just in the nick of time, the prince reaches down from his horse and sweeps the maiden off her feet.
Safely behind him in the saddle, the maiden holds her arms around his waist. As the story draws to a close, the child's heart soars. The valiant prince and the young maiden ride off into the sunset ... to a faraway castle deep inside never-never land ... where the grass is always green.
... and they lived happily ever after.
Like a well-worn Raggedy Ann doll, a little girl will carry that ideal picture of romance around in her head for the rest of her life. She's too young to understand why she resonates with such tales of chivalry. But she does. Deeply. And whether she knows it or not, the seeds of her dream lover are being cultivated in her fertile imagination. As the longing takes root, she might not say the words aloud, but she dares to believe that ...
One day my prince will come too.
And then he does.
From the first touch of his hand, her childhood fantasy begins to take flight. He's so perfect. He's absolutely charming. He thinks she's beautiful. He brings her flowers, writes a little poetry, and laughs at her jokes. He even thinks her freckles are adorable. They talk for hours. These early days of love have her sailing above the clouds.
She's found her one and only true love. Her soul mate.
After much fanfare-and breathlessly discussing every little detail of Mr. Wonderful with three girlfriends-she and her prince decide to marry. They find the "perfect" one-bedroom apartment and begin their life as Mr. and Mrs. Prince Charming. Standing in her own kitchen, she realizes she's all grown up. She's arrived.
And she couldn't be happier.
But a fairy tale is not real life.
One day, when she least expects it, she awakens from her dream and, with a look at the disheveled prince beside her, wonders if she's made the biggest mistake of her life. Like Snow White's mirror, the truth of his shortcomings and failures are revealed. The more she dwells on these deficiencies, the more she feels as if she's bought a ticket on the Titanic.
Why didn't she see it before? Now what?
THE SEASONS OF ROMANCE
Maybe you're in the same boat as this young bride. Whether you've been married a few months or many years, it's possible you're tempted to jump ship. Or maybe you've just decided to settle for being seasick. Let me encourage you not to give up hope. Here's why. Cinderella and all of the other fairy-tale love stories end at the wrong place-at the beginning! The grand finale is the wedding. No fairy tale dares to go beyond the honeymoon to show us the rest of the story.
After more than thirty years of marriage, I know more now than I could ever have imagined on that day when Dennis and I said, "I do." One thing has become crystal clear: romance is seasonal. Dennis and I have discovered that every marriage progresses through three seasons of romance-and most couples revisit them as the years go by. These seasons are:
New love Disappointed love Cherishing committed love
The first season of romance, new love, begins during dating and continues through engagement, the wedding, often into sweet days as newlyweds, and perhaps even into the first few years of marriage. This season is characterized by an intense focus on each other, a strong mutual attraction, eager anticipation and enthusiasm for building a life together, and a great freedom (hopefully after marriage) for expressing physical intimacy.
Couples in new love are eager to sacrifice time and money to fuel this new experience. It feels so good. Their fears are minimized by the emotion of love, and they will talk for hours about their lives and dreams and hopes. New love is easy, delightful, and intense. It is intoxicating. It is living a dream.
In his book The Mystery of Marriage, noted author Mike Mason writes, "Being engaged is like entering a new stage of childhood, right down to the feeling of strange new chemicals being released into the body. It is, in fact, like having a new body, like being a brand new creature just emerged from a cocoon ... The world is so bright, and this crazy new body is so incredibly sensitive to everything."
His picture of a new creature shedding her cocoon came to mind as I was passing through the Dallas airport. There, not long ago, I ran into a business acquaintance, a young woman who was on her way to visit her fiancé. I had not seen her for a year and was unaware she had become engaged. In our brief conversation I was amazed at the visual transformation in her. No, she hadn't had plastic surgery or changed her hair color. But she was glowing. She had come dramatically alive in a way she hadn't appeared a year earlier. She was clearly in love-she was radiant.
Such is the transforming power of new love.
ICING ON THE WEDDING CAKE
Our media-saturated culture encourages and celebrates new love by placing an inappropriate emphasis on the early days of courtship and romance. Just look at the ratings for the wildly popular "reality" dating shows such as The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and their many imitators. Millions of Americans tune in every week to follow the romantic adventures of complete strangers.
Hands down, the best example of turning romance into a spectator sport had to be the wedding of Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter. On ABC's The Bachelorette, Trista chose Ryan as her knight in shining armor out of twenty-five competing suitors. Nine months later, Trista and Ryan exchanged wedding vows in front of family, friends ... and more than seventeen million viewers via an ABC television crew.
In true Hollywood fashion, no expense was spared.
From head to toe Trista looked like Cinderella when she walked down the aisle-wearing a diamond necklace worth $1 million and a strapless designer gown that cost $70,000. And it was only one of three dresses she chose for the occasion: one for the wedding, one for the reception, and the third as she and Ryan departed the grand event to live happily ever after.
Although she didn't wear glass slippers, her shoes were a real work of art. Costing $50,000, they were covered with 282 diamonds-which, according to several estimates, were the most expensive wedding shoes ever created.
Not that anyone could see them.
As it turned out, Trista's gown hid the platinum and diamond-studded heels. On hindsight, she could have worn any cheap pair of shoes from a local discount store. But money was no object. It was, after all, what many have called "The Wedding of the Decade." Which explains why the bill was $73,000 for a celebrity makeup artist, $83,000 plus postage for custom-made fan-shaped wedding announcements, and $250,000 for the flowers, including 30,000 pink-and-ivory roses flown in from Ecuador and Holland.
But wait, there's more.
The wedding banquet featured food from 14 countries and included 200 pounds of shrimp, lobster, and crab-not to mention the swordfish, filet, and ravioli main dishes accompanied by 600 bottles of wine and 4,300 cups of coffee. A $15,000 seven-tier cake offered the perfect finish to a perfect evening where guests toasted the now famous newlywed couple with 180 bottles of champagne.
And all before the clock struck twelve.
Never mind that, as American weddings go, their $4 million bill for this modern-day fairy tale is slightly out of line. The national average is less than $20,000. But who's counting? This is true love we're talking about.
ABC scored millions of viewers because the network tapped into every woman's little girl dream to be a real Cinderella. The problem is, we think creating the perfect circumstances will make the dream a reality. But if the truth be known, that dream is the source of profound disappointment and disillusionment in millions of marriages today.
Here's the "real reality" of this extravagant reality TV show. After the caterers had packed their bags, the camera crews had unplugged their cables, and the masses of Cinderella wannabes had changed channels, Trista and Ryan's chances of experiencing a lifelong, romantic marriage are no better than those of the couple who decide to stand before a justice of the peace and pay the $20 for their license.
In fact, I believe their chances may actually be less than those of an average couple because their expectations-as well as those of their friends, families, and seventeen million viewers-are higher than normal. When everything has been orchestrated to perfection, how will they cope with the inevitable imperfections they are soon to discover?
The same is true for most couples. Creating the perfect wedding has been elevated to an art form. Preparing for a marriage has been demoted to insignificance. The blind assumption is that the fire of this unique love can and will conquer all.
But the harsh realities of difficult marriages, separations, and divorce statistics tell the real story. Just as Prince Charles and Princess Diana discovered, fairy-tale weddings do not guarantee happily ever after.
In the end, great damage has been done by such high-profile weddings of the rich and clueless. Their actions perpetuate the notion that couples can stay together only as long as the romance burns hot; furthermore, their example lends weight to the belief that breaking up is both inevitable and okay when the romance cools down.
When our focus is on the glitter of the wedding event, we forget that romance is more than what you do to catch your Prince Charming. Granted, a romantic attraction gets a couple launched during the first season of romance. But then reality comes along and exposes the fairy tale for what it truly is: an illusion. As the saying goes, if love is blind, marriage is a real eye-opener.
A couple wrestles with the fact that marriage isn't what they thought it would be-or should be. Real romance, they discover, is not like the fairy tales or the passionate stuff on TV. As Henry Ward Beecher, a clergyman, noted, "Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep burning, unquenchable."
How do we move from new love to a heart that burns with an unquenchable romantic fire? We start by learning in the next chapter how to handle the second season of romance, disappointed love.
New love is easy.
Happily ever after is hard work.
Excerpted from Rekindling the ROMANCE by Dennis Rainey Barbara Rainey Bob DeMoss Copyright © 2007 by Dennis & Barbara Rainey with Bob DeMoss. Excerpted by permission.
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