William Shakespeare once observed, “Love is blind.” He was right.
Studies done at University College of London found that, when we get close to someone and begin to like them, there is reduced activity in the areas of the brain associated with critical social assessment and in the areas necessary for making negative judgments. In other words, we stop seeing anything wrong with the person — emotionally we become blind.
This is both good news and bad news.
When couples begin to date, if they get too close physically or emotionally too fast, they see themselves as “the perfect couple,” completely blind to major problems. Thus, researcher John VanEpp warns that couples need to spend at least three months in causal dating, with a great deal of time, togetherness and talk, getting to know each other, before placing real reliance on the relationship or doing much touching.
The good news for dating couples, however, is that everyone has imperfections and idiosyncrasies that need to be overlooked, otherwise no one would ever get married. It becomes a matter of developing “selective blindness” by learning about each other, and letting trust and reliance grow before there's a sense of commitment or intense intimate touch.
Then the “love-is-blind” process will help you overlook the minor irritants we all have and still move toward a healthy marriage.
Love being blind can help keep your marriage stable. The passion of the early years will diminish as your waistline increases. Taking steps to stay blindly in love makes it easier to see your spouse as that endearing and captivating person you married years ago.
Author Mark Gungor correctly warns, however, not only is love blind, but “so is hate.” If there are too many disappointments, unmet needs or unresolved hurts, couples can move from blind love to “marital ambivalence.”
The move “occurs, when people have completely lost the intimacy” within their once loving relationship and lose the ability to see any good at all in their marriage. They may stay together out of a sense of obligation, but “there is an irreconcilable storm of anger growing within them” from the buildup of unresolved issues, a storm that eventually will blow their marriage apart.
Gungor notes most couples approach marriage believing their relationship is special and “that their love will last a lifetime.” It will, but only if they take the steps necessary to keep their love blinders on.
•First, don't expect to live “happily ever after.” That's only exists in fairy tales. Trying times will test you and your marriage. By keeping expectations realistic, you can stay in love “ever after,” even when there is little happiness.
•Second, respect your differences. No two people are exactly the same. You and your spouse come from different backgrounds, and gender differences will constantly arise. Talk about them, but with a respectful attitude. If your spouse does something you weren't expecting, ask about it, but without sarcasm or criticism. They may have had an idea you hadn't thought about.
•Third, minimize disappointments and hurts. Talk about your expectations. Your expectations may seem obvious to you, but in your spouse's world, they may not be. Minimize hurts by keeping clever, but hurtful statements to yourself. And any comment you need to defend by adding “Well, I'm just being honest,” is probably best left unsaid.
Love is blind, but it doesn't have to be stupid. Before you're married, be careful the blindness doesn't cause you to stumble. After you're married, do everything you can to protect those wonderful blind spots that will keep you in love for a lifetime.
©2013, All Rights Reserved. James Sheridan’s website is www.marriagedoneright.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.