Someone once said that love is a verb. I so truly believe this. Everyday we make choices in how we’re going to interact with people – from our kids, to our boss at work, to the police guy who just ticketed you, to your neighbor whose dog won’t stop pooping on your lawn, to your friends… you get the picture.
As humans we value connections and some of those connections mean more to us than others. Its a simple fact of life. We worry about the consequences of losing a friend in a similar way to how we worry about losing a job. As a result, when we’re wronged by a boss, a police officer, or other authority figure … well, normally we take it on the chin. We don’t want to rock the boat or get into trouble. We’re mad, we go through that process, and then we move on with life.
Sadly, we become comfortable with certain truths – truths like “family will always be there for me,” “my best friend would never let me down” and others. We tend to be more relaxed around these people, show our first/gut emotions to them (trusting it won’t chase them away) and then we move on. We also, because of our close relationships with these people, tend to accept that they will tolerate “the real me” from us forever – because they love us, right?
Add to those facts the idea that we, as humans, tend to zero in on the negative before the positive (and some of us are pretty good at holding on to those hurts) and you have a recipe for broken friendships and relationships which (more than likely) you have a few of in your past. Truth hurts. Humans can really be that single minded. However, our nature as humans doesn’t have to destroy the things we love and the thrill of love and romance doesn’t have to fade under a litany of annoyances with your spouse over time. Here’s a few ideas for you…
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or anyone licensed to really give relationship advice – I’m not a professional… these are just things that work for me. It should be clearly stated that there are lots of good reasons for a relationship to end (abuse being top of the list) and I’m NOT AT ALL suggesting that such things should be over looked or dismissed simply to keep your relationship going. I’m only addressing the normal wear and tear on a relationship which happens over time, and that it need not be an end to an otherwise happy long-term relationship. Clear? Groovy, let’s go on.
1. Do something just because you know they like it – In the picture above you can see my husband dressed up for his part in our community theater play. Now, if you knew my husband you’d know what an introvert he can be and how difficult coming out on a stage had to be for him. And yet, he did it? Why? See me beside him? I’ve spent my whole life trying to be the center of attention and from the very start of our relationship, he’s followed quietly behind. Every now and again, however, he steps up to stand beside me because he loves me. Not because he enjoys it. Not because it’s easy. He does it because it’s what someone who is woo’ing you would do. He knows how much it means to me that he shares in the things I love. In turn, I always try to remember what a sacrifice it is for him to rise to the occasion.
2. Touch – When you were dating you’d give anything to feel his/her touch. In the busy times of our lives we sometimes forget to do those little things which once meant so much. If you haven’t done it in a while, a simple touch (holding hands etc) can be a surprising gesture to your loved one and it can really mean a lot.
3. Look at Your Spouse – Don’t nitpick them if they’ve become unkept or gained weight over the years… look for the things you saw first when you were dating. Their smile. Their laugh. Their eyes. Spend a solid thirty seconds looking just for the sake of looking. If you haven’t admired your spouse in a while, they probably will notice. This is a good chance to be a bit of a flirt. If you haven’t done that in a while, that could lead to all sorts of things. 😉
4. Be an Active Listener – When your spouse is talking, whether about their day at work or whatever, turn your body towards them. Put down your electronic devices. Meet their eyes. Watch their mouth as they speak. It’s not as easy as you think to really engage someone who is talking to you… but we did do this once… when we were first woo’ing and being woo’d. You really wanted to know what this person had to say, what they thought and felt. You still do, or you wouldn’t be reading this… show them.
5. Remember – Dig out an old photo. Remember that moment. Better still, share the memory by writing a note about what’s happening in the picture and leave it for your spouse to find. Not only will going back to the start mentally help you refresh your feelings – it will mean a lot to them that you chose to recall happy times too.
Now, I know what some of you may be thinking: “But DeAnna, these all sound like things I’m doing for THEM, not for me. How is THIS suppose to help me fall in love with my spouse again?”
Well – the truth is this, most of these things are what you did to fall in love the first time. And, in a loving relationship, your spouse being reminded with your help is BOUND to bring about some sort of reaction that (ideally) is going to remind you more of all that you love about them. Trick is, someone has to break from routine. Someone has to extend a hand first and we’re all guilty of expecting the other person to do something or wanting them to.
My advice is to invite you to work through your agitations over their failures – and reach out. Perhaps they have been reaching, but you’ve failed to recognize what they thought were loving gestures as that. This can happen to, so don’t be too hard on your spouse. I’ll talk about that in another blog though. Until then, give these a go. What’s the worst that could happen? Nothing?
What ways do YOU use to keep the spark bright in your relationship, let me know in the comments!