“Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.” – Tom Mullen
My favorite metaphor for what it’s like when two people get married is “two ticks and no dog”. In his book, The Marriage Builder, Dr. Larry Crabb introduced the concept of the “tick-on-a-dog” relationship. A tick contributes nothing to the health of the dog, but expects the dog to provide its life support. When we get married, most of us are subconsciously looking for someone to fulfill all our unmet needs. It doesn’t take long to discover that you end up with two ticks and no dog.
Then, everyday life brings unrealistic expectations. Marital disenchantment comes in and it is expressed shortly just after the honeymoon fever wears off. This is the time when imperfections can be seen. Shortcomings can be blown out of proportions. Some eccentric behavior which you found “cute” before now becomes annoying. Aside from your own problems as a couple, you have to deal with in-law relationships, money matters, and certain conflicts which have become the cause of your stress and anxiety.
When negative emotions and actions take over, it becomes the perfect recipe for marriage disharmony. Unless you become aware of your own hurtful attitudes or actions, chances are you won’t do something about it. Marriage is accepting who that person really is. We only need to practice self-control and learn not to have so many expectations.
The following strategies may assist you in bringing back that excitement you used to have in your married life:
Strategies to Put Back the “Zip” in Your Marriage
We all need reassurance. Reinforce this by showing affection — a simple praise, hug, or kiss will do. We should learn to communicate our feelings to our mate. Don’t be defensive. When you have a minor spat, say “I’m sorry” and really mean it. The sooner you do this, the sooner your mate will stop resenting you.
2. Learn to Accept
All marriages go through certain obstacles. The one that you married turns out not to be the “angel” that you envisioned or the “knight in shining armor.” Real love takes a lot of patience. So go beyond your illusions on what or how your mate should be. Rather, focus on yourself and start to make the necessary changes needed to improve who you are as a spouse.
3. Meet Halfway
In every situation, especially when you reach the point that you are angry, hurt, and frustrated — you have to learn how to meet halfway. In other words, you must know how to compromise or negotiate. No two human beings are exactly alike. So settle your differences and learn to forgive each other right away. Don’t let the sun go down on you without you and your mate finding the solution.
How do you revive a lackluster marriage? Do what you did in the beginning of your relationship and you won’t have an end in your relationship. Delegate the responsibility to yourself to bring back the love, passion, and intimacy. I know, you’re thinking, “Why do I have to be the one to do this; why can’t my spouse take some responsibility?” The answer is as simple as it is unpleasant. You cannot change your spouse; the only person you can change is you. If you want to see change, you have to create the change. Mahatma Gandhi said:
YOU be the change you want to see. Yes, I know, you’re not liking me too much right now. And you have all kinds of justifiable reasons why this will not work for you. I understand, I could have written a master’s thesis on why I shouldn’t have to take any responsibility for my crappy marriage and why he should. I get it. So, the question becomes, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? (Thank you Dr. Phil for that revealing question).
I believed I was completely right as my marriage swirled down the drain. I wish someone had the guts to say this to me. I can’t even tell you that I would have put my “big girl panties” on and owned it. All I can tell you is I wish I did. Remember, just because you don’t like hearing it, doesn’t mean it’s not true. Will you be the person I wished I had been?
Shan White specializes in working with women in preventing or recovering from the heartache of divorce.