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The First Ninety Days
A friend of mine recently commented on the amazing number of romance novels written
and the huge amount of money being made in that industry. He then shared his observation
that these romance novels do not usually tell their stories beyond the first ninety
days or so. He said people just want to read about the romance of falling in love,
not of the day-
I told him that it is not necessarily ninety days, but that is a fair enough number to use for discussion purposes. I went on to tell him that those first ninety days of a relationship set the tone for the rest of the time you are with someone. Typically, if a relationship goes sour in the first ninety days, it is not going to survive much longer. If on the other hand, it is a beautiful first ninety days, then the relationship has a foundation to grow on. When rough patches occur in the relationship, the couple often looks back to that honeymoon stage for inspiration to work through the problems. If the first ninety days does not create something worth fighting for, then where is the motivation to keep the love alive?
I thought back on some of my own relationships. I have had three major relationships
as an adult. One never had a ‘first ninety days.’ I had decided to marry someone
who was just a friend in order to give my two young children a chance at having a
dad. He was not really my “type” and he knew that going into the relationship. The
only thing that motivated me to work through the problems was my children’s desire
to keep their new dad around. When he broke their trust through some dark behaviors
on his part and they quit wanting him around, I was no longer motivated to bother
with him. Another relationship’s ‘first ninety days’ only lasted about a month.
By the time the first ninety days was over, I had gotten pregnant despite using
two forms of birth control. However, during that first ninety days, he had cheated
on me and done many other horrible destructive things to our relationship. For the
sake of our unborn child, I would try to make it work. Finding the motivation to
stick with him was very difficult because there were so few positive memories to
build hope on. Another relationship had an amazing and wonderful ‘first ninety days’
that lasted for a year. As a result, I fought tooth and nail to make that relationship
work long after everyone around me could see that the relationship had become unhealthy
The first ninety days is very important. It sets the foundation of ‘happily ever
after.’ No relationship can be all perfect all of the time, but with a strong foundation
created right from the start, couples have something to hold onto, something to call
sacred and holy. That foundation should include elements of romance, trust, magic,
attraction, and a like-
Romance novels typically end with the couple happily married and delighting in the
beauty of their children. It is a safe place to end the story because they have
already established a rock solid foundation to build their lives upon. Look at the
ending of Gone With The Wind. Scarlett and Rhett did not set up a strong foundation
at the beginning of their relationship. We were left wondering if he would ever
accept her back into his heart. In the sequel, she finally creates ‘the first ninety
days’ with him. She had to create an atmosphere of romance, trust, magic, attraction,
and a like-
I love to ask couples that have been happily married for a long time how they met. I also ask them how they knew this was the right person for them. Their stories of the first ninety days are always beautiful and often last longer than ninety days. So many of them are love at first sight stories. So many of them have one basic element that flows throughout the entire story of their relationship. Just like in the first ninety days, every time they really take a long hard look at their partner, they fall in love all over again. There is something enchanting about that other person that no matter what happens, they keep falling in love with them, over and over and over again. They relive that first ninety days regardless of life’s ups and downs. They seldom tell stories of losing faith in the relationship or of ever really wanting to walk away.
Romance novels sell so well because we love the stories of romance. Movies are no
different than books. Look at some of the all time greatest movies that center around
love stories. We love to hear of others setting up such amazing and powerful foundations
that can never be torn down. It is hidden in the depths of the human soul -
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