A new romance is always exciting. But, just like any other relationship, a romantic one has its ups and downs. Couples easily fall in love, but they have to work at maintaining that special connection on a long term basis.
I’m no expert but I do have experience as Ron and I recently celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. When we walked down that aisle on that Sunday afternoon in September 1960, we had no idea what the future would bring. Looking back, I can truthfully say that walking that road through the summer, fall, and now winter of our lives has been a great journey with no regrets. So perhaps I can offer a little insight that might help those of you who are just beginning that journey.
Couples expect a lot more from their marriages today than did our parents. My parents’ generation was post WWII when women were usually housewives staying home and raising the kids. Rosie the Riveter returned home as men returning from the war took back their traditional roles.
Things had changed somewhat with my generation but even then women with careers had fewer choices. The usual ones were Secretary, Teacher, or Nurse.
Today, many more women have jobs outside the home and divorce, although always traumatic, is easier to survive.
So why do some couples bounce back from the hard times while others don’t?
There are lots of reasons, of course, but I feel that one of the primary ones is how they handle the boredom of a long-term relationship.
During the courtship and honeymoon period, couples overlook their differences and small annoying habits that can later become big irritations. Boredom leads to taking each other for granted which leads to disappointment which can spiral on downward towards divorce.
So what can you do to prevent boredom from creeping in or to gain back some of the excitement of the earlier days of the romance?
Keeping him or her on your mind is a good start. When you see a book by his favorite author, surprise him with it. Bring home a tin of her favorite tea. Did you enjoy movies while sharing a box of “Red Hots” while in the courting stage? Surprise him or her with a box of those special “Red Hots.”
For some other romantic suggestions, see “Saying I Love You without Words.”
Remind yourself that all relationships go through ups and downs. You can love your spouse and dislike him/her at the same time. It’s OK. When times get rough, remember that the loving feelings are still there even if lurking in the background.
Never say something you don’t mean. I read somewhere early in my marriage that if you start saying “I hate you” or “I want a divorce,” those things would eventually happen the more you repeated the words. And, I believe that to be true. Negative thoughts only lead to negative actions.
If your partner is going through a rough time, don’t allow it to spill over into your relationship. Do whatever you can to lend support or to lessen the stress he/she is experiencing. Then realize that is all you can do for them. Give them space to work out their problem and focus on what you can control–your own enjoyment of life.
Realize that men and women are different. They think differently. They react differently. Romance means different things to them.
Also remember that the excitement of early courtship will not last. There are stages to a relationship and one of the most important ones is the friendship stage where relaxed compromise and acceptance occurs.
Ron and I have been through all the stages as any couple who has been together for this many years can tell you. But I can also tell you that the most satisfying one is when you finally reach the stage where you accept each other as they are, enjoy each others differences, and realize that you can’t imagine being married to anyone else.