[CUA Office of Public Affairs]

Stoking the Fires of Love

30 January 1998


l.gif (982 bytes)ove is like a fire in a hearth, and how one tends it determines whether the flame is roaring, steady, or lightly burning embers, says a Catholic University professor of social work.

Cathleen Gray, who specializes in relationships and is researching alternatives to divorce, finds that if couples think of their relationship in these terms, they may more easily understand what it takes to make love grow.

"A good fire needs kindling, firewood, a flame, and constant stoking," says Gray. "In the same way, a good relationship needs mutual interest (kindling), a foundation of trust (firewood), passion, and constant stoking."

Gray says that "many relationships begin like fires, with a thrilling and sometimes out-of-control blaze. Without substance (logs), the fire is intense, but short-lived. You can't just build it and then never add anything to it. The relationship will smolder, and eventually die out."

Even with all of the right ingredients in place a fulfilling relationship needs to be tended to frequently. She advises couples to practice a continual stream of thoughtful gestures such as leaving love notes, buying small gifts, planning quiet time together, and simply being kind and considerate. The intensity level is up to the individuals involved.

"Some people need a roaring blaze to feel the warmth of a relationship and these are very romantic, high-maintenance people," she said. "Others are happy with a middle or low-level glow. These typically are low-maintenance and low-pain people."

Professor Gray is available for interviews about families and relationships. Please call Annamarie DeCarlo, 202-319-5600 for more information.

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Revised: 30 January 1998

All contents copyright 1997.
The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.