What's the difference between loving someone versus "being in love" versus limerence/new relationship energy? And how important is the presence and intensity of the "being in love" feeling to having a long and happy marriage?
It seems like a commonly held view that the kind of head-over-heels, passionate, dizzying feelings of limerence at the beginning of a relationship inevitably fade over time and aren't really what's important to a lasting partnership. (As seen by much of the advice in the recent Marry or break up
question.) Yet I also get the impression that most people make a distinction between loving someone and being "in love" with someone, and consider having and maintaining the "in love" feeling to be an important part of marriage. The difference between love and limerence is pretty clear, but how exactly would you define the difference between being "in love" and "love" on the one hand and the difference between being "in love" and "limerence" on the other?
And how important is that "in love" feeling? Assume a couple has a good friendship, enjoy spending time together, feel warm and fuzzy and happy about each other, have compatible values and life goals, respect and admire each other and feel respected and valued by each other, feel like they have a good and strong partnership, communicate well, have a good (although not necessarily amazing) sex life that they're both satisfied with. Assume they love each other deeply (in the "your happiness and well-being is very important to me, I'm willing to make sacrifices for you" sense-- a very strong feeling, but one which could also apply to a parent or a child) and feel willing to make a commitment to each other, to a future together, to working on their relationship and working through problems that arise.
In your experience or that of those around you, how much difference does it make whether the couple feels "in love" or not, or how strongly they feel that way, to their long term happiness as a couple? And how/why? (i.e., does the "love" feeling deteriorate over time/in stressful situations if the "in love" feelng is absent or weak? does the lack of the "in love" feeling make people more vulnerable to a third party with whom they do feel the "in love" feeling? etc)
Obviously a lot of this depends on the particular individuals, but any anecdotes are great, and/or generalizations from your experience. And of course if there's any actual research on this issue specifically, that would be awesome and interesting as well.