Marriage: Holding On To the Love and Romance
Plus the SEVEN SECRETS of having a great marital relationship.
By: J. Marlando
When we first wed, we are in love and feeling oh so romantic. Indeed, marriage has three typical stages.
Stage one: That timeless state of being trapped between love and lust
Stage two: The period of adjustment lasting approximately 3 years for most couples
Stage three: The settling into the routines of marriage as a committed couple
Changes begin taking place after the period of adjustment. There may even be a child or two by then. I have always said if couples were to wait for three years before having a child, there would be far less single moms.
Anyway, starting in about the third year—this depends on the couple of course—but for most couples, the marriage’s routines begin after around three years and the husband and wife have gained what is called “familiarity.”
When familiarity sets in the libido cools down and a more mature love begins to unfold. By this time husbands and wives have humanized for one another. That is, by the end of the adjustment period husband and wife have revealed their true temperaments and personalities. He is no longer pretending to be the epitome of mature maleness and she, as said, is showing her true colors too.
All the mystery is gone from what’s behind the shower curtain and anyway, by now there are bills and other obligations to contend with. This is why so many young couples have such “rude awakenings.” They thought that marriage was all about love and romance when it invariably turns out to be about stress and struggle.
So, more often than not, somewhere between the routines and the striving a rather unexpected relationship evolves that most folks simply call, "Marriage.”
At around this juncture, it is common for the lust to dwindle and the love to waver. Doubt enters: Did I really marry the right person…if only he or she was more like I thought he/she was…more like…me!
Strange as it may sound, we fall in love with our mates because they are so very much themselves but after marriage we begin desiring them to be more like ourselves—why can’t he/she just see things as I see them?
The other trouble maker is that before marriage we tend to maximize the other’s virtues and minimize their faults and frailties but after a few years of marriage this changes. That is, we tend to maximize the other’s faults and frailties and minimize their virtues. This of course creates an emotional gap between couples since no one feels very free under constant scrutiny. If a person does not feel FREE in the relationship outside the bedroom, they will certainly not feel vey loving or romantic at bedtime.
This has the same price that name-calling has. If one mate calls the other (bad) names in fits of anger, those names will linger deep in the psyche long after the two have made up and they will not fade away on an unconscious level even after the lights are turned out or a day or a month or a year has passed by.
Remember, marital romance was wonderful when there was absolute trust for one another outside the bedroom. Trust then is the vital key to maintaining love and romance…after marriage.
Trust in Daily Life
One major reason that we marry our mates is that we “trust” them. We trust them NOT to hurt us, we trust them to support us in good times and bad…we trust them to simply be on our side as we make our way through the uncertainties of life and we trust them to help assuage the wounds we all encounter in our daily lives.
These trusts are the cornerstone of couples joining together in a lasting, committed togetherness. A major problem is that these trusts are often broken after marriage. It is probably safe to say that in a majority of marriages money problems becomes the pin in the marital balloon. This is because money problems are indeed a source of anxiety and stress. What happens however is that during a time when a married couple should be the best allies possible, they tend to BLAME one another for the unhappy, financial situation.
We simply do not TRUST anyone who blames us. Indeed, even if something is truly our fault, we want to feel that our mate is there to give us a hand up instead of pushing us further down.
If our mates resort to name calling and blaming our TRUST for them is diminished and if their name calling and blaming occurs very much, our trust for them on an unconscious level simply goes away. When this happens the intimacy of romance becomes limited and cautious. If you will, no one walks freely in the darkness with someone who has been unkind to them and so untrusting during the day.
As a quick aside, there is a necessary discipline married couples must acquire when it comes to facing money troubles or, for that matter any kind of troubles. They must choose to fight the problems instead of each other.
The more mature husband and wives are the least likely they are to take out life’s hardships, disappointments and frustrations on each other. The more immature a husband and wife are, the more likely they will take out life’s hardships, disappointments and frustrations on one another. It is essential then to fully realize that it is NOT our mate’s responsibility to make us happy or content in life. That responsibility is solely our own.. This incidentally applies to every aspect of the marital togetherness including the couple’s most intimate times together.
In regard to this, a most important trust factor for both husband and wife is the security of knowing that their mate knows all about them and loves them anyway. Without this absolute knowledge the “romance” between couples will always be inhibited. If our mate tends to make us the target of their judgments during the light of day we will, so to speak, never permit ourselves to be vulnerable and freely expressive with them in the darkness of night.
On the other hand, I have read many times that “familiarity” is the culprit; that it serves only to reduce the romance between couples anyway. I disagree absolutely. Familiarity is—or should be—the catalyst that not only creates stronger bonds between couples but the major factor that strengthens the trust between them.
We are all imperfect personalities: we all make mistakes, mess up, do not always look our best, get cranky; get confused and get afraid from time to time…Hey, we’re human! Remember marriage is also about having a shoulder to lean on and sometimes to cry on; a hand to hold when we don’t want to be alone; of having the other there to kiss away the pain and, beyond all else, to let us know that we are loving and lovable.
Marriage in fact is about learning and growing together. And since we all grow at our own pace we need to constantly and consciously be one another’s teacher and student at the same time. In some instances we are far ahead of our mates but in other instances far behind, this is why marriage often demands compromise. Compromise is another trust factor for couples. This trust factor, however, is broken when one mate makes the “my way or the highway” demand either subtly or blatantly. We simply do not feel very romantic about someone who coerces us and we are especially not “free” with them.
We’ll talk about martial freedom next.
Aspects of Marriage and Freedom
Trust extends how we treat one another in our togetherness. How we treat one another when we are apart is also essential to the marital relationship. For only one thing, if we are not as committed to our mates out of their sight as we are in their sight, our untrustworthiness will reflect in the relationship no matter how well we believe that we can, so to speak, cover it up.
When we think of dishonesty in marriage we typically think about cheating. And of course cheating is a first taboo for anyone who truly cares about their mate. Certainly every human being has their fantasies and will now and then see the handsome or beautiful stranger who is attractive to them. This is normal but to pursue the “fantasy” is to shatter the trust of the marriage even if the mate NEVER finds out.
Husbands and wives who actually “cheat” in the full connotation of the term are doing more than merely betraying their mate’ s trust—the real injustice is that by “cheating” they are stealing their mate’s freedom.
Marriage is grounded in trust as we have been saying. If one mate treats the other cruelly, callously or simply unkind that trust begins to erode and when trust in the marriage diminishes so does the love and romance.
The modern married couple should never feel tied down beyond the obvious obligations of married life but, on the other hand, husbands and wives are bound by the ethics of marriage. An unethical mate destroys the bonds of the relationship and, in the doing, deconstructs the romantic cohesiveness that perhaps once existed between them. One who is dishonest in their daily life is never fully trusted in the romantic intimacies of the marriage. And, dishonesty does not necessarily mean “cheating.” Dishonesty can mean being devious in other ways—telling minor lies…not being conscientious when it comes to the other’s feelings and/or being egocentric in the relationship.
It is essential for both husband and wife to be FREE to enjoy their own individuality in their daily lives before that freedom can ever be demonstrated in the intimate togetherness of the relationship. In this regard, David Viscott clearly states what I am attempting to say here. He tells us, “Loving a person is to love the best in him…Any force that stands in the way of our becoming is alien to us. To have someone who shares your closest thoughts and feelings stand in your way is to be tripped at the doorstep before you have a chance to try your fortunes in the world, the worse thing one partner can say to the other is, ‘you kept me from being me.’”
What this basically means is that husbands and wives need to have their own space and some time for a self. I knew a couple, for example, who ended up living unhappily ever after because the wife decided before they had children, she wanted to go back to school and finish getting her degree. Her husband said absolutely not; that college was nothing more than a “mating ground” for people and he didn’t want her in that environment. The couple stayed together, as I ran into them years later, but the wife never felt self-fulfilled.
It is simply essential that husbands and wives have the freedom to explore their own possibilities not only for succeeding but for having fun. And what is meant by this is there is simply nothing wrong for husband to go off to enjoy a round of golf with his buddies while wife plays a couple of rounds of tennis with her friends; a wife having lunch with her girlfriends while husband is at home watching television or puttering in the yard. Marriage should not be ball-and-chain and husbands and wives need to support one another to be all they want to be.
In regard to the above it was also Viscott who told us, “A relationship should be a place where two people share the experience of helping each other become more than they were when their relationship started.”
It is just short of impossible to freely express oneself romantically with someone who otherwise limits our freedom during the normal course of our daily lives.
Love and Romance
There is no doubt about it, marriage can be a difficult relationship and, it is no doubt safe to say that it is, at least from time to time for most married couples. For only one thing, the modern world has manifold demands on all of us. And so, we must be careful not to structure home life as a mere extension of those demands. Home life should be a retreat for relaxation, fun and enjoyment; a place that escapes the noise and chaos of so-called civilization which, incidentally, is an unnatural environment anyway.
This brings me to a rather interesting aside: Not only do husbands and wives seem to holler at one another a lot, they tend to “bark” a lot and do little listening. What is interesting here is that it is not unusual for dogs to bark a lot when they are around people but you know they are not known to ever bark in the wild. Something to think about!
In any case, most husbands and wives need to practice listening to one another; this is a vital way of showing one’s love and attentiveness. We do not feel very romantic toward a person who only talks “at us” most of the time but countless married couples communicate like this nevertheless.
After all, if our mates are in the habit of communicating with us in the way that they do most of the talking and little of the listening, we are not going to suddenly become very “intimately” communicative during romantic moments either. Whatever happens outside the bedroom door finds its way in on one level of consciousness or another. Insensibility when the lights are on does not suddenly become sensitive in the dark,
So how the heck does a couple hold on to love and romance after marriage, after the tension enters the relationship and routines begin setting in? Here’s the list that I deem to be the seven secrets of maintaining love and romance throughout our married lives. We must remember to be:
This list represents the qualities of love and loving. Without giving them to the relationship and to each other, marriage becomes an obligation rather than a celebration. It takes such little effort to simply be nice to one another and yet a great number of marital relationships lack this common courtesy; this showing of affection.
One of the best representatives of what I’ve been talking about here are my friends Libby and Charles Pierce
A Perfect Gift to say I Love You
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