Shared activities essential for love

But single parents, short of time, often rush headlong into doomed relationships

By Peter Ehrlich

Last year my New Year's Eve was spent with a wonderful woman whom I had known for only two weeks. We drank cold Californian white wine, sideways as a matter of fact, and ate oysters. It was a glorious evening with angels perched on each post of the headboard. I even asked one to "please pass me the water."

We also exchanged the words all of us spend our entire lives wanting to say and hear – "I love you." Single dad was deliriously happy on Dec. 31, 2006.

I wasn't so happy when we broke up four months later.

What happened?

Single dad (and the woman in this story, who is still a wonderful woman) fell for the "love is a feeling" myth, as Scott Peck described it in his landmark book, The Road Less Traveled. His position is that real love is found in shared activities.

This single dad had his own set of activities. "Wonderful single woman" had hers, and never the twain did meet.

Is it enough to be attracted by someone physically and have unlimited respect for their brain? Can you build a relationship just on those attributes?

No we can't, because they are passive.

Our activities define our values. Without similar values, single parent couples are doomed, both as singles and as single parents. Singles need to share values, single parents more so because children ultimately become involved in activities.

Single parents are prone to getting trapped by the "love is a feeling" myth because we are sometimes a tad more desperate than regular singles as a result of our time restraints.

(Young men who stalk yummy mummies know this.)

Often we rush things along as if our mating dance was in constant fast-forward.

How important is it to undertake "doing things" together to find out the truth about your relationship?

One couple I talked to, Scott and Julia said "We realized we were in love after we took a 30-day trip to a Third World country. We experienced hardship after hardship, threw up together and shared the Maalox bottle instead of fine wine. When we were still in love at the end of our journey through hell, we knew it was real."

Single dads and moms often sacrifice the "activity" as part of their courtship or search for common values for the sake of not wanting to compromise quality time with their children. This is a mistake.

Single parent guilt has turned too many of us into "single parent wussies," not having the guts to hand off our resilient kids in order to experience meaningful activity with another adult.

If you're serious about finding out the truth about your relationship with someone, drop your children off, sans guilt, and join a range of activities that define your values. You'll soon discover if you're a match.

If there's someone you're considering as a marriage partner, book a ticket to a faraway destination that will challenge you on the most basic levels. Better yet if you need to take malaria pills. When you arrive back at Terminal 1, you will know the truth.

If you don't care about the truth, that's fine.

Here's what I did on Dec. 31, 2007; I was alone, rented bad movies and ate marshmallows.

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