September 20, 2014

Keeping Love Alive in Marriage

Just a few days ago, I was browsing through my Facebook page and came across this little ditty about marriage:
 
You and I both know there is no such thing as an actual “marriage box,” but I do think the point that the author is trying to make with this is that if a couple gets married and become complacent in their love for one another then they start to take one another for granted and the love they once had will suddenly be gone.
 
In other words, keeping the love alive in a marriage is hard work. This is probably why more than 50% of marriages end in divorce. The marriages that make it through the course of time most likely involve couples who have figured out how to keep the love alive. Below are a few things that you can do to help keep the marital fires burning:

Make a big deal about anniversaries. I know a lot of couples who have been married for several years and, as a result, they have started to treat their anniversaries like any other day. Sure, they get their spouse a card and tell them “Happy Anniversary,” but that’s about it…unless it’s a “milestone” anniversary. Don’t do this. Each and every anniversary you reach with your spouse is a big deal. It takes a lot to stay married these days and every year brings new difficulties for married couples. Therefore, when your anniversary rolls around, celebrate the fact that you two have made it through another year of trials together!
 
Don’t stop doing the little things for one another. It doesn’t matter who we are talking about, there isn’t a person alive who doesn’t like feeling loved. Like the marriage box blip from above stated, “there is no love in marriage,” love is something that individuals bring to their marriages. One of the easiest ways to keep the love alive in marriage is to never stop doing the little things for your spouse that you know he/she likes.
 
For example, most women love to receive flowers or chocolates at work from their spouse. We also enjoy things like, shoulder rubs/back scratches, impromptu cards/notes/letters, surprise date nights and other similar things. Men enjoy things like golfing with the guys, home cooked meals, watching sporting event on television instead of HGTV, sex, etc. While the lists above are examples of common likes for men and women, the fact is that each individual person is different and it’s up to their spouse to take note of what little things make them the happiest. And, just because you may not think that the things your spouse likes are important, they are important to him/her. Continue to surprise your spouse with the little things and you’ll be amazed at the results you get from it!
 
Take weekend trips without the kids. Now that I’m a parent and my oldest son is starting to get involved in school activities, I understand just how hard it is to find time with just my spouse. While kids are great, they (and their activities) can be draining as well. And, if couples aren’t careful (my husband and I included), they can easily get so wrapped up in the kids and everything they’ve got going on that they leave little time (and energy) for their spouse. This is why I believe it is so important for couples to carve out time for each other and take at least one weekend trip each year, without the kids. The time you and your spouse are able to spend alone together are precious because they give you the ability to reconnect with one another. It’s important that you stay connected to your spouse because one day your children will move out and it will just be you and your spouse…you don’t want to find that you’re living with a stranger.

Say encouraging things to your spouse on a regular basis. The world is a harsh place to live in right now. It just seems like people today are so negative towards others. While there is nothing we can do about this outside of our homes, when it comes to our family, we can control the amount of negativity coming out of it. This is especially true in regards to our marriages. Very seldom are two unhappy people living in a happy marriage…it’s really impossible when you think about it.
Therefore, keep things positive by looking for ways to build up your spouse instead of being negative and critical towards him/her. Give compliments and encouragement daily. If you know your wife is down because she has gained a few pounds, tell her how great she looks and how attracted you are to her in the mornings. Ladies, if you know your husband has been stressed about work, tell him how proud you are of him and how thankful you are that he continues to go to work to support his family. These words of encouragement/love keep the bond between spouses strong.

Talk through your differences. My husband and I have been married for 10 years this June, and this is something we still work on. While we have gotten much better about it over the years, there are days when we argue and we want to be mad for a while. Talking through our different views is not something that we necessarily want to do…and sometimes we put it off for a day or two. But, for the most part, when we have an argument we make a point to work through it right then and there. We may get angry with one another and our tempers may be strong, but that’s okay, because at least we are communicating with one another about our feelings over that particular issue. This allows us to move past the “I’m right, you’re wrong” stage and work together to find a solution…which is often a compromise for both of us.
Working through your problems as a couple is vitally important to keeping your love alive because when you don’t take the time to express your feelings and come to a resolution, resentment builds. And, resentment can be a marriage killer if you aren’t careful.  
What are your thoughts regarding this? Do you have any additional tips for how to keep the love going within a marriage? Please share!