The 4Cs of a Meaningful and Lasting Romance: Introduction

Emotions

May thoughts await in dreams untold

Along a stretch of lonely road

A barefoot stroll on powdered sand

Side by side, hand in hand

While stars align in open sky

And spirits soar where angels fly

As sunlight shines from heaven’s gate

To warm the hearts of those who wait

On whispers in a mild breeze

Or gentle stir of autumn leaves

For what was lost can now be found

When love and happiness abound

—J.M.

Introduction

After more than eighteen years of writing suspense novels, what on earth compelled me to write a book about romance?

The easy answer derives from the positive feedback I received with my June 29, 2011 eZine’s article, The Four ‘Cs’ to a Meaningful and Lasting Romance. Encouraged by a receptive audience, I decided to expand upon my initial concept and amplify my thoughts on romantic relationships. The more complicated answer stems from my need to understand why intelligent, attractive, and caring individuals entangle themselves with the wrong romantic partners while more compatible ones slip away.

Since the Gutenberg era, famous poets, playwrights, and illustrious authors have penned countless words on love and romance. In contemporary times, psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage counselors, therapists, ministers, and motivational speakers alike, have written volumes on relationship issues. Numerous authors, many of whom I reference in this book, provide valuable insight on romantic relationships from a sharp academic focus; some through a more anecdotal lens. Other authors steep themselves in psychobabble or promote ideas void of substance, promulgating the same song, different verse to either knowingly or unwittingly evade the answer to the question, “What does it take to achieve a meaningful and lasting romance?”

After almost ten years of marriage and nearly twice as many years in the dating pool, I’ve often asked myself why a flourishing romantic relationship should end without considering that perhaps it never really began. As a systems engineer for almost two decades of my adult life, I’ve learned to apply logic, reason, and common sense to a range of complex problems. As an author and a hopeless romantic, I’ve learned the answer to my question on romance exists somewhere between logic and emotion. Certainly romance can, and often does, persist without reason or logic, but I propose the absence of rational thinking and objectivity diminishes a romantic relationship’s capacity for meaning and longevity. Sometimes we focus too objectively on love and the pursuit of happiness with someone we covet, only later to discover a more subjective definition of our own happiness and how we define our personal needs and desires. When everything clicks, love is grand. When it doesn’t, we’re often stuck in a parody of thermodynamic law, where:

  1. You can’t win
  • You can’t break even
  • You can’t get out of the game

Bruce Lee, the legendary martial artist, philosophy student, and author of Tao of Jeet Kune Do, wrote, “Relationship is understanding. It is a process of self-revelation. Relationship is the mirror in which you discover yourself—to be is to be related.”

Lee’s notion of understanding and self-revelation goes deeper than the pages of a manual on fighting techniques and strategy. His words speak to the essence of relationships and how we must first examine ourselves to understand who we are as individuals before we strive to understand who we are as one half of a desirable union. In line with Lee’s philosophy, a T’ai Chi instructor I learned from years ago sternly proffered the following advice: “See things for what they are; not for what you want them to be.”

At barely twenty years old, I acknowledged my instructor’s counsel within a sparring context, more applicable to the way one might attack or defend rather than how to approach a romantic relationship. Over the years, my instructor’s words took on a different meaning, one more applicable to me in a broader sense, beyond the scope of how to manage an opponent.

As adults engaged in life and love, we can want what we want, but in the end, we often get what we get, which sort of speaks to the concept behind the adage life’s not always fair. The notion of learning to see things for what they are and not for what we want them to be is important to understand. Often, we see what we want to see—in ourselves and in other individuals we attempt to engage in romantic relationships with—only to ignore the way things really are. Good or bad.

Socrates said, “Know thyself.” A simple truth, perhaps, but one often overlooked when we pursue a romantic relationship. In other words, if we don’t take a good look at ourselves and try to understand who we are as individuals with personal needs and desires, then how can we hope to successfully navigate a meaningful and lasting romance? Or to put it another way, if you don’t know what you want, how will you know when you find it?

Learning to see things for what they are and not for what you want them to be doesn’t mean you have to like the way things are. It means accepting the way things are in your real life world and not living in a cloud of false perception—an important philosophy for building any successful relationship, especially a romantic relationship forged by reason and passion. To articulate the significance of this concept, I devote the initial chapters of this book to defining what I call our core values and the distinction between our needs and our desires. These introductory chapters provide a common foundation upon which our romantic relationships should be built. A deeper understanding of our core values, needs, and desires also satisfies a prerequisite to defining the 4Cs and their pivotal role in a meaningful and lasting romance. My former eZine’s paper drew an apt analogy between the 4Cs I explore in later chapters of this book and the 4Cs used to measure a diamond’s worth. Stay with me for a moment, and I’ll illustrate an intriguing comparison between the two.

Diamonds have been called a girl’s best friend—a consistent theme for generations of single and married women captivated by these brilliant gemstones. To accentuate the allure of diamond jewelry requires a proportionate combination of color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Color and carat weight define prominent features of any diamond, but no woman dreams of a large yellow stone or a colorless rock the size of a gnat’s head. This explains why we introduce a superior cut and clarity to enhance a diamond’s quality, and in turn, its value in the marketplace. A large, nearly colorless and perfectly cut diamond with little to no imperfections will dazzle you with its brilliant shimmer. The challenge is not to measure well in just one, two, or three aspects of a diamond’s quality, but to exemplify all four. Only the rarest of diamonds receive the moniker of perfection and command the highest price. The most prolific gems, however, strike a balance between color, cut, clarity, and carat weight.

Just as no two diamonds share exactly the same characteristics, no two romantic relationships are precisely alike. Obviously our romantic relationships are not defined by color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. But much like quality diamond jewelry, thriving romantic relationships signify love, romance, and commitment. Unlike diamonds, which take billions of years to form, our romantic relationships require significantly less time and effort to evolve. Moreover, we have the ability to enhance our romantic relationships by understanding and applying the 4Cs to a meaningful and lasting romance.

But before I introduce the 4Cs, let’s touch on meaningful and lasting for a moment. After all, what good is a lasting relationship if we find ourselves in limbo between happy and miserable? And what value does a meaningful relationship afford us if it fizzles in short order to leave us lonely and unfulfilled?

The concept of a lasting romance implies loyalty and dedication but doesn’t guarantee meaningful any more than a meaningful romance can guarantee longevity. Meaningful and lasting should not be mutually exclusive in our romantic relationships—but should complement one other.

After nearly a decade of marriage and more unsuccessful relationships than I care to admit; after years of candid dialogue with women I’ve befriended; after years of observing behaviors from both healthy and dysfunctional relationships; and through volumes of academic knowledge gleaned from credible research literature, I’ve identified the 4Cs associated with every meaningful and lasting romance—namely chemistry, communication, compromise, and commitment. At face value, they seem obvious. Yet so often we fail to recognize their existence or worse, choose to ignore them. Love persists in healthy romantic relationships, but at times, all 4Cs do not. Romantic love stirs the soul and sparks a passion between a man and woman, but a meaningful and lasting romance cannot endure without chemistry, communication, compromise, and commitment.

This book will encourage you to explore your innermost needs and desires while also prompting you to ask yourself some tough questions. Though it’s written from a male perspective, I’ve done my best to respect and admire both gender viewpoints within heterosexual relationships. Although I feel that most, if not all, of the concepts explored in the following chapters apply equally as well to homosexual relationships, my lack of knowledge and understanding about the subtle nuances of homosexual couples confines my writing to romantic male-female relations exclusively.

We all exist as human beings with fundamental needs, desires, and capacities for love. Whether you are eighteen or eighty; whether you are currently involved in a long-term relationship or still hoping to find “the one,” this book will help you gain a better understanding of yourself and how to build and maintain a more fulfilling romantic relationship.

In the words of Deepak Chopra, “Relationships that begin in passion’s raging fire, often end in the coldest ashes.” I would add, romantic relationships bounded only by passion, in the absence of logic and reason, will not sustain. This underscores my philosophy on the 4Cs required to achieve a meaningful and lasting romance. For passion alone, in the absence of good communication skills, a willingness to compromise, and a need for commitment, cannot achieve a meaningful and lasting romance.

This book explores each of the 4Cs in more detail in an effort to address some longstanding, and often elusive questions, including:

  • What are core values, and why are they significant to a meaningful and lasting romantic relationship?
  • What are some fundamental needs and desires we all share in common, and why are these so important?
  • Why do some romantic relationships look so easy while others become the poster child for dysfunctional behavior?
  • Why do some romantic relationships begin with a flurry of passion and end abruptly, while others start slowly and diminish over time?
  • Are romance and sex mutually exclusive, and what does it take to shine in both?
  • How does new technology help and hinder our romantic relationships?
  • Is online dating just a digital meat market, or could our soulmates exist in cyberspace?
  • How can we handle some of the most daunting compromises romantic relationships face?
  • Why do we fear commitment, and what can we do to build commitment in our romantic relationships?

This book makes no claim to reveal all the secrets of a meaningful and lasting romance, but it does offer new insights on critical relationship needs, reminds you of ones you might have forgotten, and explores timely issues romantic couples often face. In many ways, experience remains the best teacher. And I truly feel my personal experiences with romantic relationships are not unique to me, but prevalent across a sizeable population of romantic couples.

What follows is not a lecture on romantic ideologies or a self-help guide cloaked in evangelistic tongue, but rather, a fresh, candid perspective on what it takes to make a romantic relationship work. When you reach the end of this book, you will have a better understanding of your personal needs and desires, a renewed sense of self, and the vigor to embrace a meaningful and lasting romance.

I hope you enjoy reading The 4Cs of a Meaningful and Lasting Romance as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I can’t promise this book will change your love life forever, but I believe, in many ways, the principles contained herein have made a positive and lasting impression on mine.

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