What’s Your “Story of Love”?

Your “story of love” has a huge impact on the state of your marriages. So, I ask you. “What is your story of love?” “From where did you learn that story?”

Maybe you learned your “story of love” from Disney and your story’s theme is “and they lived happily ever after.” It sounds like a lovely story, but it assumes everything will remain unchanged, just as it is at this moment. People will not change or grow. Circumstances will forever remain the same and no problems will arise. But challenges do arise. Circumstances and people do change. Personal challenges begin to weigh on the marriage. No, this does not provide a good “story of love.”

Or maybe you learned your “story of love” from Jerry Maguire, building it around the theme of “you complete me.” A romantic statement but a dangerous storyline for love. Marriage is not built on two incomplete people leaning on one another to make them whole. In fact, two “half-people” will only make a quarter of a marriage when they come together. A healthy “story of love” consists of two whole people choosing to join their lives in marriage.

One more…. Perhaps your “story of love” comes from Hollywood movies in which one character must choose between duty and stability (a boring life) on the one hand or freedom, adventure, and happiness on the other. You may have also seen this “story of love” in real life as one person leaves their spouse while citing the theme of this “story of love:” “I love them but I’m not in love with them.” But relationship choices are rarely, if ever, so black and white. People, and the relationships they form, are complex. “Loving” versus “being in love” is more of a sentiment than a solid theme for a long, enduring relationship. It speaks to a poor story line more than the relationship it leaves behind.

All these stories are based on a fixed mindset; and a fixed mindset is not good for a healthy marriage. a fixed mindset believes character and ability are fixed and cannot change. They believe unchanging ability leads to success; effort is NOT required. Problems become character flaws of the spouse rather than challenges to be overcome. If happiness does not always flow easily, “we just weren’t meant to be together.” If challenges arise, it must mean a better alternative is “somewhere out there, out where dreams come true.” The story built on a fixed mindset does not build a healthy marriage. This “fixed mindset story” builds a doomed marriage.

A healthy marriage is built on a “growth mindset story.” People with a growth mindset believe ability is nurtured, people change and grow, and effort leads to greater success. They put in effort, intentional effort, believing they can become a better spouse and build a stronger, healthier marriage. When they go through times of struggle, they accept the challenge as an opportunity to grow. They turn toward one another and work together to overcome the obstacle as a couple. You can see that the growth mindset creates a much stronger and more enduring story of love. (For more on a growth mindset click here.)

So, I ask again. What is your “story of love”? Is it a story built on a fixed mindset? Or is it a story built on a growth mindset? The answer makes all the difference between a faltering marriage and a happy enduring marriage.

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