All you need is love
We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant.
You can just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just
think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it.
You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.
Jim and Jennifer are in love. Living together for five years allowed their relationship to mature and now they were ready to make the ultimate commitment to each other ‘til death do us part’. Anyone who attended their wedding would agree how much they loved each other. While they exchanged their vows, their eyes locked together like they could see inside to each others soul. There is no doubt in their mind that their marriage will last forever.
Remember that magical feeling after you were married? That excitement of starting a new life with the person that you love the most —your best friend, your closest confident. The special experience of being in a room full of people yet be so connected and attentive to each other that it was if there no one else existed. After the honeymoon we want to spend as much time with our spouse as possible. We laugh and play together and enjoy exploring our new life together. We flirt with each other and share private jokes. We spend time talking to each other and also spend time kissing each other. The future is bright, and we are excited about learning to live together while planning our future. Those were the days. Jim and Jennifer are lucky. They are in love.
Most marriages begin with these emotions. But after the honeymoon is over and we begin to deal with kids, job stresses money pressures, family drama and deciding who is responsible for making sure the garbage gets to the curb, things slowly change. Life becomes more hectic.
Every marriage faces the challenge of keeping the passion alive despite the joy and pain that life throws our way. People mistakenly think when they fall in love those feelings are going to last and carry them through the hard times. Those feelings in the early days are often infatuation, and because people don’t have a road map to what lies ahead, those feelings fizzle out and what they need then are skills of communication, negotiation, how to co-parent, how to keep the passion alive. “All you need is love” is not all you need to keep the passion alive in a marriage Couples who have long-term happy marriages succeed because they have the relationship skills to weather difficult times, not because they’re soul mates.
Jim and Jennifer already have a very solid foundation that should keep the passion alive between them for many years. But relationships must continue to grow and mature to sustain the romance. New thoughts and ideas have to be shared and disagreements have to be managed. No one who attended Jim and Jennifer’s wedding doubted the depth of their love and commitment to each other. Now they need to develop the skills that will maintain those romantic feelings even during the tough times.
The Three-legged Stool
The main difference between being single and being married is that married people have to consider each other as they proceed through life and not make decisions alone. Successful couples figure out early in their marriage that their relationship has to be as much of a priority as they are. Developing a sense of ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ is critical if a marriage is going to thrive. When we feel that our needs are being ignored we become distant and resentful of our spouse. Now you find yourself on the road to anger, hostility or withdrawal. That is how you fall out of love.
Just like a stool cannot stand on only two legs, a marriage can only survive if the couple can work together to protect their relationship. When disagreements and conflicts arise, compromise and understanding is the goal. The alternative is “emotional gridlock”, two stubborn people protecting their individual turf. Unless partners are willing to work through the conflict and grow and develop new understandings and behaviors, the relationship stalls — or worse, heads for crisis.
We have a real problem in our society hearing each other. Although listening accounts for 50% of our communication time, we only retain 25% of what the other person says. That fact does not bode well for married couples who are struggling to have genuine conversations with each other. When we speak to our spouses, we are often distracted. Not only are we distracted by our own thoughts, emotions and perceptions, but we also react to our spouse’s tone of voice and their body language. All we want from our spouse is to be understood. If your partner hears your point of view and is willing to work with you to address your concerns and not feel resentful, you’re going to feel connected to them.
As difficult as it is to add one more challenge to your busy and hectic day, spending twenty minutes talking with your spouse keeps you feeling close and involved in each other’s life. Good communication allows the couple to feel safe— to share their hopes, dreams and fears and keep the intimacy growing between them.
The Power of Touch
Remember the special feeling when you were dating and walked down the street holding hands. Why do we stop touching each other as the years go by? Touch is one of those special ways to communicate that you want to stay close to your partner. An affectionate hand on the shoulder, a light kiss on the cheek can communicates your feelings for each other as much as hot, passionate love making.
As nice as non-sexual touching is in a relationship, an exciting sexual relationship always helps keep the passion alive in a marriage. Sex should be an active part of your marriage as you grow old together. Many couples report that their sexual relationship improves as they get older, as they feel more secure in their relationship as well as having less of their focus on the kids. While the kids are still home, sex often has to be planned. Some couples make a date to be together on a weekend morning while their adolescent sleeps to insure their privacy. Don’t forget to have a lock on your door to make sure you don’t have any unwanted interruptions.
Never Stop Laughing
The ability to make your spouse laugh is one of those skills that keep your marriage passionate. Being playful makes us feel special and also gives us the ability to defuse difficult situations. Of all the skills that couples need to survive throughout the years, the ability to make each other laugh is up there as the most important ingredient for a long lasting relationship.
Eleven Rules for Keeping the Passion Alive in your Marriage
- Try to see your spouse with fresh eyes.
- Keep your mind focused on your spouse’s positive qualities.
- Forgiveness is letting go of the past.
- Forgiving yourself and your spouse is an attribute of the strong.
- If you are keeping score of your spouse’s mistakes, you are setting your marriage up to fail.
- Life is too short to allow boredom to infiltrate your marriage.
- Good things often come from the difficult times.
- Strive to genuinely understand your spouse.
- Break your routines to keep the marriage exciting.
- Maintain an attitude that encourages openness.
- Strive to find the magic that is waiting to be discovered in your spouse