Who knew that real love in a marriage had a shelf life?
A recent study has shown that the love we feel after the initial bliss of being married dissipates after just two years and marriages simply morph into comfortable companionships. As a man coming up on his two year wedding anniversary this June, I have already warned my wife. Hey, the good times can’t last forever, right? Soon, I’ll simply keep the mortgage paid and nod affectionately in her direction.
Now, such studies are liable to leave some people with a feeling of hopelessness. Those who believe eternally in love are sure to be nervous. Those that are running from marriage will see this as the perfect argument for continuing to run. Either way, I’m suggesting that we all come back from the ledge.
In my opinion, studies like this are designed to create more fear and misery than they are hope. There’s no study that can determine what’s truly in our hearts. If there is one thing that can be figured out about relationships, it’s this: Some people are meant to be together and some aren’t. And 9 times out of 10, when they aren’t, it doesn’t have nearly as much to do with love as it does with incompatibility.
With that said, here are four things I suggest for remaining in love beyond that two year window:
It’s not the feeling of being in love that goes away in most relationships. It’s the feeling of euphoria that comes with being in love that does. People often want to feel the newness of the relationship forever and ever. That’s just not going to be. Love is not always a bed of roses. Relationships are work and no matter what kind of work you do in your life or how much you love that work, there are days when it’s going to be a grind. There are times when it’s going to be more work than play.
Relationships follow this pattern. It doesn’t mean you don’t love anymore or are not in love anymore, it just means that there’s work to be done. Once we learn the ebbs and flows of a long-term relationship and get used to the idea that there will be days that are less thrilling than others, we can manage. If you’re truly in love, it’s always going to be worth the work. But you must be realistic about the fact that indeed, it is work.
It’s an old standby, but the old standbys are the things that work. Time for conversation is always one of the things that are easily forgotten. We learn one another’s mannerisms, moods and idiosyncrasies and we allow that level of comfort to take the place of actually talking to one another. “How was your day” becomes more of a formality question than it is an actual inquiry. Do you still care how their day was?
If you struggle talking to one another in the same manner that you did when love was new, maybe setting aside some time each day to do so would help. For example, if the two of you or even just one of you needs time to wind down at the end of a day before talking, allow for that time. Don’t try and force a conversation when you’re not in the mood. Talk from a place of comfort if at all possible. It lowers the risk of an argument when no one’s angry and increases the chances of a smooth back and forth.
Never Take Anything For Granted
Forever isn’t promised in a relationship. It must constantly be earned. A lot of our getting comfortable with one another leads to us taking one another for granted. Just because you put a ring on it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do maintenance. For example, “I love you” is the easiest thing for you to say on a daily basis and doing so in a sincere manner can go a long way in keeping the level of appreciation high in your relationship high and the level complacency down. If there’s anything in a relationship that shouldn’t be assumed it is the fact that your partner always feels loved. They may know that they’re loved, but a reminder of that fact can often brighten their day.
In addition to that, couples get comfortable with one another and certain things that happened during the dating process or early on in the marriage fall by the wayside. Going back to being realistic, there are some things that just aren’t going to go on forever and you’ve gotta know that. Some things are important and need to be kept in practice, while others aren’t as necessary as we make them. Communicate with one another and identify what’s important and what isn’t. But be fair. Don’t place the pressure of superhuman efforts on your partner, especially if you’re not able to reciprocate.
Often times, when we speak of doing things together we think of making sure we’re still going out to dinner or to the movies or other recreational things. But I think some of that togetherness needs to be in having mutual hobbies that the two of you can do together. And doing things together doesn’t always require a major event. For example, my wife and I have certain television programs that we enjoy. We DVR them and we never under any circumstances watch them without one another. It’s our time together.
There are other things we do like her cutting my hair weekly (which is often a time for us to converse) and our kneeling down and praying together each night before we go to bed. Those are things that don’t take long, but it’s still a way for us to spend time together. Now that we have a newborn, this is even more important. Even though our son is only 3 months old, there is time set aside each day for just the three of us. We’re creating a bond that won’t be easily broken. So many things are against relationships these days. If we want this, we must be for one another.
I’m more inclined to think that the people that love one another and stay married never fall out of love. I think that once you reach a certain level in your relationship, there no longer needs to be a constant onslaught of open affection to prove that you are in fact in love. It doesn’t mean that you’re taking anything for granted. It simply means that what you have is solid. There comes a point in all relationships where the necessities will do and we no longer need to prove ourselves with over-the-top acts. That goes a long way in making the special nights that much more special. Besides, when you’re really in love with your partner, everyone can see it on your face. As long as the two of you know that, there’s no need to prove it to anyone else.
Enjoyed this article? Receive email alerts when new articles are available. Just click on the “sign up” button above.