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Chasing Love!

Year after year people flock to the movies to see the latest romantic comedy. Why? Do you suppose it’s because of the chase? And because every new romantic comedy offers a slightly different variation on the chase? Don’t we love to see one of both characters chase each other through difficult situations until finally they end up with each other? We leave the theater with smiles in our hearts.

We are weaned on fairy tales — knights in armor slaying dragons so they may woo the fair damsels, princes searching for their princesses. No wonder even little boys and girls enjoy chasing one another because according to the stories, there’s the perfect payoff; once caught, they live happily ever after.

I believe this message, “And they lived happily ever after” is so deeply embedded, that it is the downfall of many otherwise great relationships and even more marriages. We celebrate the act of catching, fostering the myth that it is the nature of man to be the chaser and the woman’s role to be caught, and that once caught, the chase remains history. I believe it is the responsibility of all who want to experience a growing relationship that they develop, maintain, and improve their respective abilities to chase. I see the chase as the most underrated activity in human romance.

Every year couples look at each other and say things like, “I love you, but I am not in love with you any more!” When they first came together, the last thing on their minds was the idea that one day they would no longer be in love with each other.

They wanted to spend the rest of their lives with someone they loved and who loved them, not someone who would leave them. For too many, they bought into the message that marriage is the grand prize and once you’ve won the prize; you set it somewhere and admire what you accomplished.

The romance fades as the husband and wife neglect their lover selves. They become worker bees, parents, cab drivers, lawn mowers, and worse. They no longer make time to create the chase and savor the excitement it brings. They’re too caught up in keeping up with the Joneses. They no longer look at each other as great prizes worthy of chasing but as shoulder-to-the-wheel, noses-to-the-grindstone teammates in the struggle of life.

Their conversations shift from sweet sharings of how they feel about one another to whose turn it is to change the diapers. Dealing exclusively with one mundane situation after another bleeds all the love out of a great relationship. The main way to transfuse lifeblood back into the marriage is to redevelop the chase.

To get the best picture of the chase, go back to your kindergarten years to where the purest form of the chase exists. Think about two children who are interested in each other. They don’t go up to each other and say, “I’m very interested in you and would like to get to know you better.” Instead they get to know each other by playing games, and one of the most exciting is, “Tag.” This game allows them to chase after each other with great energy and excitement.

They laugh and yell as they dart from place to place looking for the opportunity to catch the other person. When he tags her, he declares, “You’re It!” and when she tags him, she announces, “You’re It!” Unlike a marriage that has lost its zest, the children’s game of Tag goes on and on, each getting the chance to chase and to be caught over and over again. Think about how the children look forward to playing the game day after day with the same people. This game seems never to tire them out. There is something about catching someone and being caught by someone that makes the game always exciting.

As adults we need to apply to marriage what we learned from playing tag. We need to be willing to be “It,” to start out being the chaser, not waiting for the other person to start the game. We need to be willing to be caught but not in a fast or easy way because that means the game lasts only a short while; and when you’re having fun, you want it to last as long as possible.

No one likes a person who never wants to play; it’s not possible to get to know more and more about anyone who prefers to play by himself and never wants to be part of the chase. If a person feels like he has to be “It” all the time, he’ll lose interest and stop playing. And we all know that when the game stops, so does the fun.

© 1998, Dr. Roger A. Rhoades

This article appeared in the Jan./Feb.,1998 issue of The Upstate Child.

Roger A. Rhoades, D.Min., is a licensed professional counselor, a therapist for more than a decade who is nationally known for his considerable skills in the field. He has worked with all ages and races, worked in psychiatric hospitals, worked in drug & alcohol rehab settings. Dr. Rhoades has extensive training in marriage and family therapy and is considered an authority on relationships.

You might have seen Dr. Rhoades’ appearances on national television shows such as The Montel Williams Show, The Rolanda Watts Show, and Biggers and Summers. Most recently a regular on the Jenny Jones Show, he is America’s most popular talk show counselor.