Loving vs. "In Love"

Q: Can you give me advice on being "in love" and just "love." I have been married for 19 years, and I try to tell my husband that there is a difference between loving someone and being "in love" with someone. I need help explaining the difference to him. -- Rachel, 39

Dr. Susan: A: Rachel, I can't tell for sure whether it's you or your husband who has found someone new to be "in love" with. After 19 years together, it's natural for the butterflies in the lower regions of the body to show up much less frequently. It's also typical for the prospect of a new lover to be more exciting than staying true to the one you're married to. That "in love" feeling you have when you're with someone new, for up to a couple of years, is as much lust as love. It's about hormones and is nature's way of ensuring people get together and probably have kids. Love, on the other hand, is a commitment. It's a decision. It's what you set your mind to do when you marry someone and plan to stay with them through a lifetime of sharing fun times, as well as hard times. Allowing yourself to pay much attention to what you call being "in love," once you're already married to someone, is very foolish, short-sighted, and dangerous to everyone's stability. You can love the one you're with. Or you can keep starting over until no one wants you anymore. That's a choice too, but in my opinion, it's, finally, a sad choice.

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