Romance, discovery, passion. Ah, the early years of marriage when everything was new.
And now? If you’re wondering “What happened to the love and romance in my marriage?” it is not too late to make changes. The key is awareness and desire to transform your relationship.
Every marriage has its moments of challenge. There is a difference though between strong and weak marriages. The marriages that stand are the ones where, despite the differences, we maintain positive feelings about our spouse. We are committed. We realize that no one is perfect but living life together is a source of joy. We can’t imagine being without one another.
Weak marriages bring a sense of disillusion. A spouse withdraws physically or emotionally. There is less expression of love; ambivalence sets in. An atmosphere of being unresponsive to each other’s feelings exists. Conversation is one sided or dead. The light has dimmed.
Red Flags in Marriage
It is normal to feel let down at times or as if your relationship is coasting. But then there are moments when something does not feel right. Paying attention to red flags can help put a marriage back on track.
Here are some of the red flags that may appear. They’re easy to ignore especially since so many couples are dealing with the same issues. But why not make your relationship the best it could possibly be?
- lack of romance and intimacy
- living selfishly, absence of consideration and empathy
- lack of respect-in words or actions
- finding excuses to be apart, seeking escape
- overdependence on friends, parents, workmates
- unrealistic expectations and demands
- taking each other for granted
- blaming and not taking responsibility
- getting lost in technology, social media, texting and emails
Relationships are the key to living a life of joy. When we connect there is magic in our lives. With time it is easy to forget how to cherish and value our spouse. We put away the dreams we shared and the laughter. We become careless with our love. We neglect to infuse our relationship and the heart grows frigid.
What can we do?
Begin with a conversation. Tell your spouse that you recognize a need for greater bonding. It’s not about whose fault it is or who is to blame. It’s about being determined to nurture the gift of having someone special in your life to love. Life is too short to spend squabbling or living as if we are two ships passing each other in the night. Take back your relationship by strengthening your resolve to make it work. (I am of course not speaking about a relationship that has soured to the point that professional help is needed.)
Here are some positive steps you can take to energize your connection.
- Commit to time together
Life is stressful. We get distracted. Our togetherness becomes a given and we become careless. Plan your time together. No phones allowed. Leave talk about stressful topics behind. Share dreams, thoughts and experiences.
- Don’t be afraid to love
There is a fear of being vulnerable. We think that if we express our emotions we seem weak. We wait for the ‘other’ to be affectionate. We wonder why we must be the one to take initiative. Stop wondering and start doing. Be proactive.
- Careful with your confidences
Don’t ask marital advice or confide in people who are not true proven professionals. There are plenty of advice givers; this doesn’t mean that they are successful or correct. Do not confide negativities about your spouse to family members or friends. You may find resolution but they will continue to carry bad feelings and impressions. And if someone does not like or understand your spouse, they are definitely not your ‘go to’ person for help.
- Express your love
Show your spouse that you do not take her/him for granted. Little actions speak volumes. Be considerate. Do a kindness each day. Listen to your spouse’s feelings and reflect empathy. Ask: what can I do to give the message that you are meaningful to me?
- Be compassionate
Put yourself in the shoes of your spouse. Imagine his pressures, her stresses. What would you want your spouse to do for you? Now ask yourself what your spouse would appreciate your doing for them. I am speaking not just about actions but sensitive words. Be open to hearing your spouse’s fears and worries. A listening heart brings compassion.
- Don’t hold onto anger
There is no room in marriage for grudges. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Too often we bring up incidents that are long gone. Let it go. Show understanding; forgive. Don’t use your mouth as a weapon of mass destruction. Move ahead by leaving the ‘if only’, ‘could’ve’, would’ve’ and ‘should’ve’ behind. Speak about what is hurting you now, live in the present. And when you speak about your sadness or pain do it without blame. Look for solutions instead of problems. In a calm tone and without giving a lecture, tell your spouse how you would like to handle this situation differently in the future. Be sure that you speak in privacy.
Taking the time to make your relationship a priority is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Having a partner to share your life with, to face both trials and joy, is a most valuable treasure. Nurture the relationship and keep your love alive.
Slovie Jungreis Wolff is a noted teacher, author, relationships and parenting lecturer. She is the leader of Hineni Couples and daughter of Rebbetzen Esther Jungreis. Slovie is the author of the parenting handbook, Raising A Child With Soul. She gives weekly classes and has lectured throughout the U.S.,Canada, Mexico, Panama, and South Africa. You can reach slovie at [email protected]