The Reality of “Happily Ever After”: The Art of Marriage Maintenance And Repair
You probably know from your own experience that the classic Hollywood tale of love and romance, followed by a storybook wedding and happily ever after is a myth. In reality, married life is lived out quite differently. Newlyweds may be shocked to discover that within a few years, months, perhaps even as soon as they sit down to write post -wedding thank you notes, the magic wanes and the bickering begins. It’s common for men and women to find themselves wondering how they fell in love in the first place and at a loss as to how they’ll survive a lifetime together.
As the phase of infatuation ends, disappointment, resentment, mistrust or feelings of loneliness may ensue as each partner faces the challenges of their individual lives with the additional reality of negotiating shared duties and responsibilities – paying the bills, managing the house, the meals and often, children. Creating a successful marriage does require “work”, but while we may enter a relationship knowing how to balance a checkbook or prepare a meal, most of us have not developed the skills necessary to nurture and support the emotional needs of another while allowing our partner to peer into our own vulnerability. In other words, we haven’t learned much about intimacy.
Some people do find their way through the learning process involved in building a stable relationship (approximately 50% of all marriages don’t end in divorce), but how many couples do you know who would say they are more in love with each other now, than they were on their wedding day? A solid foundation for lasting love requires more than sexual attraction and euphoric romanticism. Loving is an art , based on good communication and perfected over a span of years. Those skilled in the art of loving have found the secret to a relationship that, like good wine, only gets better with time.
While the partners in a relationship may not be able to see a way to resolve their differences and are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless about ever doing so, conflict is not the enemy. A lack of guidance at this crucial crossroad often tempts people to escape the marriage when, in fact, the very conditions that frustrate them are the ones that could lead to a deepened level of intimacy. Resolving these struggles and reconnecting with your partner during this phase offers one of life’s greatest opportunities to strengthen your marital bonds.
It may be that one person suggests couple’s counseling. If both of you can agree on that decision, half the battle is won. Love and trust are still enough to begin the healing process that can lead to a relationship of mutual support and understanding for all the seasons of marriage. To learn more about how to revitalize your marriage, visit the article Bringing Back the Love also found on this website.