What Real Love Looks Like

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“I’d say he respected me 100% until we got engaged. Then his respect for me dropped about 20%, which I thought was due to the stress of planning the wedding. But by the time we hit our honeymoon, his respect for me hit 10%, if that. And it stayed at rock bottom the entire time we were married.

“What was I going to do about it? I was married; it’s not like I was going to leave him. So I tried to prove myself to him. Being an even better wife, trying to make him happy, trying to give him a home to be proud of. He liked being treated like a king, but it didn’t make him respect me more.

“Over the years, I found it harder and harder to maintain the enormous respect I’d had for him. I ran out of excuses for him. By the end of our marriage, neither of us respected each other. Weirdly enough, the hardest thing for me was losing my respect for him. I never ever thought that would happen.”

Have you ever been in a relationship like that?

Where the person you loved and respected didn’t exactly love and respect you in the same way?

There’s a common pattern in the psychology of marketing called the scarcity principle:

People value most what is difficult to acquire.

By definition, then, the stuff they already have isn’t as valuable to them as the stuff they could have but can’t get.

It explains why you’re a hot commodity until you agree to spend your life with the person you love. Once they have you, your value drops in their eyes. It’s completely unconscious, but that doesn’t mean it’s not obvious. Their behavior towards you can change overnight.

Are all marriages destined to fall apart, then, because no one ever values what they already have?

Let me tell you a story.

My daughter has a stuffed dog that she’s had since she was a year old. She’s slept with that dog every night for nearly 5 years.

Has she got bored with it? Does she love it less than the new stuffed toys that arrive on her bed every Christmas?

Of course not!

I’ve watched with amusement as the new stuffed toy—often cuter, brighter, and more visually appealing than her old dog—claims pride of place on the bed for a night or two. Then, inevitably, Doggie sneaks back under her arm, and the new toy joins the line of stuffed friends behind her pillow.

Her love for Doggie only increased when we read The Velveteen Rabbit, which explains that toys that are loved for long enough become “real.” Their fur may be rubbed off, they may be missing an eye or two, but in the child’s eyes that toy is no longer a toy but a living, animated being who’ll always live on in the child’s heart.

That kind of love—the faith-filled love of a child for her special toy, or the faith-filled love of a parent for a child—does not diminish with time. There will never be another Doggie. No one can replace a child.

And that’s why some marriages endure while others do not.

Some people marry from the same urge that drives them to acquire the latest model. It’s a possessive urge that pushes them to get the best before someone else gets it.

Others marry because this is their beloved. Once chosen, there will never be another. It doesn’t matter if hair goes grey, teeth fall out, or wrinkles sag. Time makes each other even more “real.” You see past the surface into each other’s souls.

It’s the most beautiful thing. That’s why it’s called real love.

And real love never loses respect.

Category : Relationships