The romantic stage is easy, almost effortless, and we expect our marriage to continue on this high note. But no marriage does. Once we’re married and the newness has worn off of our relationship we become lazy and take each other for granted. We put less effort into the marriage. We also begin to see our partner in a more realistic light. There are traits we don’t love, ways in which we’re different and things we disagree about. We become disillusioned.
We enter marriage not knowing much about it. Our only lessons on marriage have been watching our parents’ interactions and these are often dysfunctional or misunderstood by us as children. We never learn what it takes to make intimate relationships work. We don’t realize that marriage takes work. We need to put as much time, effort, energy and planning into our relationship as we do into our career, our children, or even into our yard.
Working on our marriage may be painful. We often bring childhood scars or deficits into marriage expecting our partner to make everything right. Sometimes marriage can heal old wounds or satisfy longings never met before. More often, we expect too much from our partner in this regard. We need to recognize that many of our marital conflicts have to do with stuff from the past. Dad ignored me so I flare up when my partner does the same thing. Or Mom was so controlling, I’ll never let anyone else tell me what to do. We must learn to let go of the past.
There are many ways to learn about and work on relationships. Couples can read books or watch videos on marriage and discuss them. Marriage Encounter weekends and Weekend to Remember will help couples with communication. The Third Option group for couples covers fourteen different topics having to do with making marriage work. This will help you understand where you need to grow and it will give you the tools and skills needed to improve your marriage. Third Option Sharing Couples will convince you your struggles are normal and that marriage takes work. Counseling can also teach much.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Proverbs 3:3