What makes some marriages last so long? Love. But what does that really mean?
You have to work at marriage. It doesn’t grow deeper automatically. Some couples can be together for years and still relate on the ‘pass the salt and pepper’ surface level.
Marriage has the capacity to be the most intimate human relationship you can experience, but like all relationships it takes work, dedication, and deliberate action. For just as sure as the sun will set at the end of the day, the ‘honeymoon period,’ where words and deeds and expressions of affection are so automatic, will begin to settle down and your commitment will begin to be proven…not just for fidelity, but for the rest of what you vowed on your wedding day…to love, honor, cherish, in sickness and in health, for better and for worse. If the ‘honeymoon period’ experience lasted forever then we would not grow in our ability to love another no matter what…’til death do us part.
I know this kind of talk is getting to be more like a foreign language in our culture these days, where marriage is under attack and commitment has lost it’s meaning. But, all the more reason to talk about what healthy relationships look like.
In counseling courses we learn that feelings follow behavior. Doing a kind act, or initiating an expression of love, can make
feel good, even if there isn’t the response you had in mind…if you have the right attitude. And depending on the condition of the relationship, kind acts will return to you. The question is, are you willing to prime the pump? Are you willing to initiate? If you are, here are a few simple suggestions, that you can try:
1. Leave a note telling your husband something you appreciate about him, in his briefcase, lunch bag, sock drawer, taped on his rear view mirror…
2. Do something he loves to do even if it doesn’t interest you, like watching his favorite sport or type of movie on TV, or go with him bowling, fishing…
3. Take a walk together and only talk about what’s on his mind. (You may have to get the ball rolling on this one).
4. Cook his favorite meal or dessert for him.
5. Dream together: if money were no object where would you like to travel? What would you both like in your dream home? What would you like to do together to make the world a better place? What charities would you like to give huge amounts to?
6. Go for a ride in the country, or just explore a new part of town. Play his favorite music in the car. Or listen to the baseball game or news he likes.
7. Walk downtown window-shopping together, and go in the stores he shows an interest in. Watch him as he tries out the newest computer or television or tool…can you see him with new eyes?
If you aren’t already doing these kinds of things I believe you will be surprised to see the results. It may take time especially if things have been dry for a while…but don’t give up. It is well worth the investment.
NOTE: For those who are experiencing difficulty in your marriage, or you have been hurt so deeply you can’t bring yourself to the above suggestions, please seek help from a counselor or pastor, especially if there’s been abuse. Things can change because people can change, but sometimes we need help.