Why do couples stay in unhappy marriages?

Romantic love does fade, but enduring love replaces it when you have cultivated, nurtured and built it.

At first, romantic love begins with attraction, chemistry (endorphins, dopamine and serotonin flood the brain while sex hormones flood other areas of the body), and infatuation.

That chemistry must always fade.

But enduring love replaces it.

Enduring love develops over time. When you begin to share your life with someone whom you treasure and who treasures you, and you share you interests (not all of them, of course), goals and dreams, your hopes and you always keep avenues of communication open, when you are unafraid of compromise, when you hold yourself to the highest moral, ethical, physical and emotional standards toward your beloved, you have achieved enduring love.

What you have NOT done is to continue to build on that love, to cultivate and maintain ENDURING LOVE. You have allowed your everyday life and stresses to interfere with the appreciation and growing closer to each other’s souls.

Enduring love is the love that happens beginning the morning you wake up and say, as I did, oh my god, I’m sleeping with my brother; now what do I do? (I don’t have a brother, really), when you think the “love” is gone. Now begins the true journey, the hard work to make a successful, happy, even joyful, relationship work.

When you live with someone special to you for a very long time, you have shared EVERYTHING together, the good, the bad and the ugly. And you have persevered! The good has far outweighed the rough spots and difficult times, and you two have not worked hard enough build enduring love, with words, and actions, and big and small gestures of affection and caring; you have shared your thoughts, ideals, dreams, and goals for decades; you have achieved some, many or all of them, yet you have come to a place where your relationship feels lacking.

ALWAYS remember why you fell in love – keeping that always in mind creates the Kavanah – the Hebrew word for the intention or direction of the heart, the special feeling – that is necessary in a warm, loving relationship.That is the beginning, your state of mind, the rest is action. And if consider and take action every day, you build passion as well.

Passion comes from our enduring love, the love you nurture and grow during all of your time together.

Passion comes from wanting to and sharing common interests, goals and dreams.

Passion for us comes from performing a Sabbath service together every Friday afternoon at the old age home nearby, from sharing knowledge and insights on Saturday mornings at Torah study, from sharing community with our friends at synagogue.

Passion comes from caring for pets together and dealing with their lives, and their deaths.

Passion comes from true, deep communication, soul to soul.

Passion comes from remembering always why you chose each other.

And passions, too, comes from your physical encounters.

And when you share all of that, and more, passion feels like more than happiness; it feel like joy.

While still in the courtship or newlywed stage, there is substantial motivation to keep up the special treatment of your beloved, but as the endorphins and dopamine brain chemicals fade, which they must (unless you have begun to cultivate, build and maintain enduring love), people have less incentive to continue the special treatment REQUIRED, and I do mean required, to have the happiest, most successful relationships.

That’s why building enduring love is so essential to every relationship, and how, when the first stage of romantic love fades, people grow closer and will not drift apart.

People who become unhappy with their relationships stay for many reasons, though. Lack of communication is often the main cause, because that leads to loss of intimacy, moves into drifting apart, and then the relationship is doomed. They stay for financial security, or for the children, or for emotional security, sometimes because of lack of self-esteem, sometimes out of habit, and often because they may feel there is more security staying in a bad relationship than being on their own and starting over.

People stay in relationships once they know they are over for many reasons, but all of those reasons relate to fear.

Fear of being alone.

Fear of living alone.

Fear that they will fail again.

Fear that the next relationship will be worse than the one they are in.

Fear that they won’t find someone else to love.

Fear of the loss of family connections developed through their spouse.

Fear of the loss of friends, social connections and community shared with their spouse.

Fear of lack of future emotional support.

Fear of lack of sexual reliability.

Fear that their children with suffer, emotionally and financially.

Fear of the difficulties of raising children alone, or the lack of a secure environment for them, or losing one parent, or other worries about the health and well being of their child or children as a single parent.

Fear of future monetary difficulties.

Fear of losing the comforts they experience in their relationship.

Fear of the unknown.