Almost every couple has that moment of revelation. It may be two weeks after the wedding or two months after, but one morning either he or she wakes up and thinks, “Oh my gosh! I don’t believe it. I made the biggest mistake in my life. I married the wrong one!”
And it’s true that they made a mistake – but not the one they think they made. They made a far more fundamental mistake – mistaking infatuation for love.
The Magic Starts
When they first met, he looked into her eyes, she looked into his, and the magic began. Then with the violins playing in the background, they began an enchanted journey. He was so charming. She so beguiling. Hours passed like minutes. They could talk on and on and never run out of things to speak about. But it didn’t matter. Even if they spoke about nothing, just being together was enthralling.
And during this state, everything she did was perfect. Everything he said was clever and funny. And each of them thought, “This is it. Now that I’ve found the right one, forever and ever we will be happy.”
And that was their mistake. They were infatuated, and they didn’t understand what that state was and why HASHEM created it.
The State of Infatuation
Infatuation is like a drug. It affects your senses and changes the way you think and feel. Everything is wonderful. The whole world is filled with happiness and joy. Scientific studies show that falling in love affects the brain chemistry in a significant manner. The dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline, the neurotransmitters, which regulate our moods, are greatly increased. The effect of “falling in love” is similar to cocaine use. The couple experiences a rush of adrenaline, a sense of elation, and rapture. They are high.
“His bad habits will never bother me.”
“She will always be tolerant of my being late.”
And they have a clear sense that, “We will live forever and ever in this state of bliss.”
Infatuation Plays an Important Role
HASHEM created infatuation to allow men and women to get married and create long-standing, loving homes. But therein lies the problem. To take two individuals from different backgrounds, with diverse natures and upbringings, put them together for a short time, and then ask them to live together for the rest of their lives in peace and harmony should be impossible. By the time they meet, they are mature adults. They already have a host of habits, routines, and ways of doing things. They’ve developed their own lifestyles, value systems and goals. To ask them now to mold two divergent lives into one should never work.
To allow marriages to succeed, HASHEM gave mankind the capacity to love. When a couple is in love, they operate in a climate of acceptance and understanding. They overlook each other’s shortcomings and ignore the other’s flaws. She is forgiving. He is tolerant. Differences don’t matter. Disagreements are rare. Your way. My way. What difference does it make anyway?
And the marriage thrives despite what life throws at it. The heart of a successful marriage is love.
But love isn’t instant. Learning to give doesn’t come naturally. Real dedication to another person takes a long time to develop. To allow marriages to succeed, HASHEM created certain forces to jump-start the relationship.
Like a Kitchen Match
One of these forces is infatuation. Infatuation works like sulphur on a kitchen match. When you strike a match against the phosphorous on the match box, it will ignite into a flame. It gets very hot, very quickly. For a second or two it will flare up, just long enough to light the wood of the match. That flame, however, wasn’t designed to last. It was meant to be a catalyst to start the fire — not to keep it going. If the wood catches, the flame did its job. If not, it shined bright for a short while, but accomplished nothing.
Infatuation works the same way. It allows the couple to begin; it starts the process. But they must then do the difficult work of creating a true bond of love. They need to become attuned to each other’s needs; they have to learn to actually care about each other. And even more, they have to learn who their spouse is, and what they need. Which isn’t as simple as most newlyweds think.
You Think You Know Him
The way that we come to “know someone” is by creating a composite based on our interactions with him or her. We take our experiences with the person, and we review (often subconsciously) the conversations and exchanges, what he said, how he said it, when he said it, and then we create an image of who that person is.
And that’s the problem. When a person is under the influence of that drug called infatuation, they act in ways very different then they would otherwise. An ordinarily sober, serious young man might be seen singing from the rooftops. A normally mature, highly responsible young woman might have a glassed over look in her eyes and be unable to concentrate on anything. Psychologists would define this type of behavior as manic. Both of them are acting in a manner that is very different than they would otherwise, and very unlike the way they did before they met.
And as a result, the entire relationship was built on something that couldn’t last. It’s easy to like someone who is nice to you all the time. So when he says, “She is the first person who accepts me for exactly who I am,” and she says, “He is so sensitive and sweet. He never says a single unkind word to me,” of course, they like one another.
But that was because when they were dating, she was too spellbound to even notice his personal habits. Of course, she was completely accepting of him. She didn’t see a single flaw in him! And he, as well, was entranced by her, so it didn’t bother him that she laughed in that shrill sort of way. Naturally, all of his words were kind and sweet.
But after a while the drug wears off, and the music stops. Both of them go back to being who they really are, and each is a whole lot less tolerant and accepting than they were before they were married. While they certainly knew each other before, it was as a person acting unlike themselves.
The Magic Ends
And then one day they wake up. The magic is gone. The spell is broken. Yes, they still feel very strongly about each other, but somehow it’s different. Now, she says to herself, “He really does leave his socks on the bedroom floor – and it bothers me.” So she mentions it to him repeatedly. He says to himself, “She really does have a bit of a temper, and it’s annoying.” And he can’t help but point it out to her. And each of them ask themselves, “What happened to our love?”
The problem was that they weren’t in love; they were infatuated. Infatuation is a temporary state that ends. It was created to start things off, and then it fades away and is gone — never to be heard from again.
The First Really Dumb Mistake in Marriage
This is when many couples make the first really dumb mistake in marriage. It’s when either he or she wakes up and says, “I don’t believe it. I made the biggest blunder in my life! I married the wrong one!”
They didn’t marry the wrong one. The magic started to wear off, and they are now facing that great challenge of making their marriage work. What they fail to realize is that HASHEM designed it to work that way.
And this is the first really dumb mistake that Very Smart Couples make:
They forget that it wasn’t love. It was magic, and the magic was supposed to last only so long.
Infatuation is an important tool to help start a marriage, but it isn’t the basis for a marriage. It is a short-lived chemical explosion, and if you use it as the indicator that “We will have a great marriage,” you might well be making a grave error.
And a couple is now ready to learn the first rule of a successful marriage.
First Rule of a Successful Marriage
Infatuation and Love are Two Different Things
Love is a bond based on commitment, devotion, and dedication. It may have been helped along at the start by a sense of infatuation and even lust, but that is just one of the many catalysts that helps to form a real attachment.
The real bond of love comes from sharing a life together, working together, being committed to each other. Infatuation is fast boiled and temporary. It starts off with a bang, but if soon fizzles out. Love is a whole lot slower to cook up. It starts off very gradually, but as time passes, it becomes stronger and more real. But unlike infatuation, which just magically happens, love isn’t instant. Love takes work.