When you're going though a rough patch in your marriage, your friends, family and other well meaning persons will probably tell you one of two things; "Things will get better"; or, "Maybe you should think about time apart." But really, what should you do if marital bliss escapes you? Is it possible to get things back on track, or are you really doomed to failure?
WHY A MARRIAGE SOURS
Examine your expectations. Get really honest about what you expect from your mate. Some people grow up in very critical households and they may carry that negative trait into their adult life and straight through into their relationships. Romantic notions of finding "the one" or your "soul mate" are wonderful to experience. But, what happens when something sideswipes that notion and you are left feeling if "this really is the one"? Ensure you examine what you expect and look at those expectations realistically and perhaps a change in viewpoint will allow you to be less critical and focus on the reality of married life.
Have you built walls? Often we create emotional distance and wailing walls based on the actions of the other. Words, actions and unresolved issues can really pull two otherwise loving people far from each other. But you have total control over this. Often you protect yourself, much like a hermit crab does on the beach when danger approaches. One might withdraw from ever resolving the areas that created the giant crater between the two of you. Is there anything you can do to start gingerly turning walls into windows? Can you see through to the other persons feelings and empathize enough to begin seeing the matter for what it truly is?
Reality trumps myth. Often, we enter relationships with ideals that, while they may have worked in your life before; or, you may have even discussed your ideologies prior to marriage and agreed -- they do not work now. Perhaps secular jobs, family ties, hobbies or having kids is slowly dissolving the love you once shared. The reality is that we all face these issues, and prior to being married they all seemed very doable, but when we start to experience these issues we didn't ask for or expect it can really douse the flames of love into a smoldering fire.
MAKING MARRIAGE SWEET
It's not going to be easy, but it doesn't have to get harder either. Here are a few suggestions to consider.
Resurrect the good. Do you remember why you fell in love? Can you for a few moments, in a quite space attempt to relive those moments? Feel the feelings of love and companionship and really try to connect with what brought you to the point of deciding to marry in the first place. In addition, you might try writing down all the amazing qualities you saw in your spouse when you were dating. There were many and you may just need to reconnect to those. I heard someone once suggest to find a wedding picture and write across the picture 3 things that endeared you to him or her. That would sure make a nice gift to the one you have grown distant with.
Plan date nights! Yes, you need them. Special time together, away from work, away from chores and for crying out loud....away from kids, is very necessary. No need for martyrdom here. Take the initiative and plan something special...even if it's just a picnic out for a few hours. Make dates happen frequently so you can find the spark you once had before real life started.
Get down to brass tacks. Express yourself! You need to mildly share your feelings with your spouse. Find the right time, the right setting and when they are in the best frame of mind. There is an expression that says "Don't let the sunset with you in a provoked state." This means to calmly talk things over before the day is over. Don't let things fester. Don't play silent treatment games. Engage in meaningful conversation that is not confrontational nor accusatory. The goal is to win your loved one over, not to push them further away.
Know the difference in how you perceive something and your mates intended meaning. This is key to ensuring we are not over reacting. Try really hard to read between the lines. They may not say it as you hear it or you may hear it in a way they did not say it. So be prepared to ask what they mean without sounding sarcastic or quick to judge.