As we’ve talked about in the past, being “in love” is the passionate feelings of infatuation that couples experience during the early years of their marriage. However, these intense emotions are meant to wane over the months and years.
As your relationship evolves, there will be periods of conflict with your spouse characterized by emotional chaos, disillusionment and ultimately, acceptance. In time, your marriage will go beyond fleeting moments of passion and move on to a more stable, deeper sense of loving.
With that, I’d like to offer ways to help your marriage move smoothly throughout the different phases of its evolution:
#1: Put Your Love Into Action
Verbally affirming your spouse is important, but the other half of showing your love is based on tangible things that they can see.
Like we said, being “in love” is temporary. To help your love evolve to its deeper stages, showing it through actions is important – especially when you DON’T feel like doing it.
Yes, there will be times when the passionate feelings will be absent (usually after the “reality check” stage kicks in), and just because you may not be in the mood, it doesn’t mean you should stop doing things for your partner.
Think about the other areas of your life. If you only showed up at work or gave your best only when you felt like it, chances are you wouldn’t stay hired for long.
Emotions are fleeting, but your life-long commitment to loving your spouse shouldn’t be.
#2: Keep In Touch
When it comes to staying close, talking with your spouse more frequently is only the first step. Truly effective marital communication involves two other components.
First, expect that you won’t agree with everything your spouse will say. Whether it’s politics, religion, philosophy on life, raising the kids, or your preferred brand of toothpaste, it’s vital to always maintain respect for each other’s opinions.
The combination of events in your life is different from your partner’s, so each of you will have unique filters which affect the way you see the world.
The other aspect of effective communication is your ability to truly listen to your spouse. Sometimes, we get so caught up with wanting to being heard by our partner that we end up tuning them out.
Among the many couples we’ve helped over the years, we’ve noticed that being unacknowledged and a lacking sense of validation are MAJOR sources of negative feelings in a marriage.
If you want to love your spouse, make the effort to really listen AND empathize with them. Pay attention to both their words AND actions to get a clear picture of where they’re coming from - this is your best weapon against potentially damaging misunderstandings!
#3: It’s about BOTH of YOU
Before you got married, you probably had a clear idea of the direction you wanted your life to take. Now that you’re sharing your life with someone else, have you updated your vision to include your partner?
Many people forget that getting married means combining their individual plans into a SHARED one. How can you move forward as a couple if you can’t agree on the direction of your marriage?
It's a given that you'll clash over your values when you begin asserting your respective personalities in the relationship.
But that’s not the point – it’s every couple’s responsibility to GET PAST these fundamental differences.
Goal-setting is a very crucial foundation in any healthy relationship; be prepared to talk about the basic objectives of your marriage as early as possible.
(Incidentally, our Save My Marriage Today book has a lot of couple exercises, including goal-setting!)
Also, don’t forget to devote quality time for each other and make daily gestures of love to remind yourselves that your marriage is more important than the differences you need to resolve.
#4: But It’s also about YOU
At the same time however, you need to retain your individuality. To make your marriage last, you also have to hold on to the traits which make you unique from your partner.
He or she liked you for who you are, so it’s important to keep those wonderful qualities alive in you. Besides, things would get pretty boring if you only liked and did the same things as your spouse.
To preserve your unique qualities, find time to maintain your personal interests. While it’s good to keep your marriage as the top priority, part of a lasting relationship is having the space to do your own thing from time to time.
Being married may not be a paying job, but it takes hard work to make it work!
Take time to indulge in your hobbies and other extra-curricular activities such as volunteer work, video games, books, movies or sports. Whatever appeals to you, attending to them gives you a chance to let off some steam and keep you refreshed.
As you do this, don’t forget to support your spouse in their own activities. They need a chance to regain their bearings just as much as you do.
Here’s another tip – being happy as an individual also means working out any personal hang-ups. Everyone has them, so there’s nothing wrong with working on your emotional and spiritual development.
There are different self-improvement books and classes which will best suit your needs. Take the time to look into them to prevent your personal issues from affecting your marriage.
By being the best version of yourself, you can fulfill your role as your partner’s better half.
Great post! Thanks for the insights. I feel that this is so important for my situation as my husband and I have lost those little affections and validations that you are talking about. I also feel like we have lost a sense of ourselves and are always so busy looking after the kids, worrying about money and other stresses of running a household that we have completely forgotten about ourselves as individuals, especially me...!
Thanks for your comments Nicolene! Remember, making time for one another doesn't have to involve grand gestures or spending unnecessary amounts of money. It's about putting a bit of thought and creativity into it. A foot rub, a cuddle, a 'thank you' or 'I love you' at the right time can pay real dividends. It's easy to lose sight of things when you have kids, but remember that it's the strength of your bond that will help you endure any challenges that face you as a couple in life. Best of luck!
Thank u for allowing God to use u like this!!! U can't know how many you're helping.
Surely you are a help to me and my friends. May God Bless you and give you more wisedom.
the steps are wonderful.
Thanks for today's lesson it has come at the right time. My husband is having an affair and he has accepted responsibility and is willing to give our marriage another chance but I sometimes feel like giving up especially that he is still not completely out of the affair but is working towards that. What should I do? I want to make our marriage work and I need all the help I can get and I am sure you will help me.
Thanks for your feedback Esther,
It's great that he wants to give things another chance, but in order for this to succeed he needs to show his commitment to this by letting the other person go. I suspect he's hanging on to her in case it doesn't work out with you, which is no basis to build a renewed marriage on. Tell him your terms. He has to end the affair first in order to make room in his life for you. He owes you that.
We have lots of information about dealing with affairs in our course, and I would encourage you to check it out.
Regards, The Save My Marriage Today team
These steps, eventhough they are very basic, are very important. I am in my 25th year, actually, 26th year with my wife and there have been times when we overlooked some of them. One important one that I neglected was to keep up with my own personal interests, hobbies and preferences. For a period of time, I thought that if I just agreed to do whatever she wanted life would be easier, but over time that proved to be incorrect.
Another point is numeral 1, the action of being affectionate, especially on her part, was something that was lacking, and still is from time to time. Overall, we have a great relationship yet affection is important to me and I am always pumping it out.
The last point I want to mention is, after all these years, I am still "in love" with her, everything I read about relationships denies the existence of this love after a few years and I don't get it. I feel it, I am not imagining it. It is there.
thanks for your words...
THAT IS A HARD ONE. U FIRST HAVE TO GAIN HIS TRUST AGAIN AND THEN YOU CAN GO FROM THEIR. IF U DO NOT BUILD UP THE TRUST THEN IT WILL NOT GET ANY BETTER..
This IS an excellent article that I wish I had read before getting married 27 years ago. I will pass this on to my adult children as they are preparing for their futures.
My marriage has lost a lot, including trust, respect and love but I'm going to give it one more shot and the information in this article is a good place to start.
After almost 40 years of marriage my husband wants to see if he has missed out on life so wants to leave me. He says I'm still his best friend yet he is very distant. He is angry with me for not staying in my job when he decided to postpone his retirement for two years and for me following our original plan to be in a warmer climate this past winter. He felt taken for granted and abandoned. I am working hard on the steps above to renew his feelings of love for me, but he is determined to divorce me in order to not compromise his decision which was made while I was gone and unbeknownst to me until I got home. We are still living under same roof, but different bedrooms now. I'm working hard at the first three steps but, other than a divorce, he no longer seems to know what his goals are. What else can I do to help him renew his love for me. He is still the love of my life and I tell him that daily.