Does a person fall in and out of love the way Hollywood portrays it? Does something just happen and the light switch flips on or off in our romantic relationships?
Or, is falling in and out of love an involved process that takes time and the development of key elements? In my opinion, along with many relationship experts, the latter is the most accurate explanation.
Family Dynamics, a company based in Nashville, TN, has put a considerable amount of research and effort into the area of marriage and the "falling in love" process. Their research shows that a person does fall in love, but it is more than an emotion or "love at first sight" experience.1
In order to fall in love, a person must move from independence – needing only one's self to exist – to interdependence – being concerned about self but needing someone else to exist as well.
Some people can even go beyond interdependence and move toward the unhealthy side of relationships: dependence – needing others to exist and not being able to function without them.
In order for a person to move from independence to interdependence (the healthiest scenario), certain dynamics must take place:
Moving through these three stages, the couple thus transitions from independence to interdependence.
An interdependent relationship isn't static; it continues to be dynamic. On any given day, the relationship may move slightly toward independence or dependence. That is normal.
But some relationships move toward dependence, which is not good. Continued movement toward dependence causes a relationship to become unhealthy and ridden with psychosis.
This process also involves three stages:
Since falling in love is a process of moving from attraction, acceptance and fulfillment, falling out of love is just the opposite.
When a person moves backward through the three stages (from interdependence to attraction), the feelings of love diminish. Not only will passion disappear, but commitment will eventually disappear as well.
The trip backwards begins when one or both partner stops meeting the other's needs and when negative behaviors, like selfish demands, disrespectful judgments and angry outbursts, become a daily practice.2
Continued movement away from interdependence indicates that your marriage is in trouble and needs to be addressed. If not, the relationship is headed for at least one of three destinations:
Thus, if you find that you or your spouse is falling out of love, you must begin at the beginning and start over:
As simplistic as this process sounds, it works. Hundreds of couples are beginning to learn how to fall back in love by following the same pattern they followed to fall in love in the first place. By seeking professional help and making a commitment to this process, you can too.