Liz always assumed the fire would start to die out in their marriage somewhere along the way, but she didn’t expect it to happen after just six years. Oh, she and Evan still get along great. They laugh and kid around more than ever. But the magic, that spark they used to have, the way they’d look at each other … well, maybe their energy is focused on other stuff now. Like the kids and work. Still, it’s as if they’ve become roommates instead of the soulmates they once swore they’d be for the rest of their lives. What’s happened to them?
Liz and Evan aren’t alone. Many relationships and marriages that began passionately fade when confronted with our daily lives and the people we really are. Often, we don’t even notice the warning signs. When was the last time you held hands or kissed in public? Has sex become more of a duty than something fun and magical? Are arguments over ridiculously small things happening more often? Have you stopped having deep conversations about life? When was the last time you truly did something unexpected that felt romantic?
Sometimes, the shift is a result of our differences. When we meet and fall in love, we tend to look past those differences or promise ourselves we’ll “work though” them. But over time, the people we really are deep inside begin to reemerge, and that can lead to conflicts and resentment. You might even find yourself wondering if you really know this person.
One of the most common causes is couples who have stopped working on their relationships. Happy, successful marriages don’t happen automatically. They’re not the result of someone getting lucky in the marriage lottery. Couples whose relationships stay strong and continue to grow are couples who deliberately make an effort. It’s easy to push each other aside as we focus on raising the kids and advancing in our careers, but that’s dangerous for marriages.
How can you make that effort? There are many ways, but they all begin by recognizing your relationship should be your priority. That isn’t neglecting your kids, because they’ll benefit much more if your marriage remains healthy than they will from diverting time to them. Make time for each other. Do the things you used to do when you were dating. Liz and Evan used to love spending Saturday mornings walking along trails in state parks and then finding interesting places to grab lunch. Maybe they need to do that again. When dating, couples are often playful, but they forget about play once real-life responsibilities crop up.
If you start prioritizing your relationship, you should start to see the things you loved returning, from simple affection, to laughter, to more frequent and more satisfying sex. You may even fall in love all over again.
Looking for help in making that happen? One of our professional counselors can help you find the way. Care to Change also offers a Marriage Intensive program to help couples work through particularly challenging issues. Instead of the traditional weekly sessions, an Intensive involves a concentrated effort over three to five days with a specially trained professional counselor in a retreat setting. The longer, uninterrupted sessions allow deeper discussions and can lead to significant progress in a shorter time. Contact us to learn more.