Friday, February 27, 2015

Keepin' the Love Alive: My Tips for Re-igniting Your Marriage

Alhamdulilah I've been married for 6 years to the woman I was crazy about since I was in High School. When I did marry her, I was met with resistance from family and friends saying that I was too young--I hadn't finished college yet, had barely any money, and was still living with my mom and dad--but I wasn't going to budge. I had found the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and didn't want to waste any time making it official.

Marriages, I have learned, are not easy. (A collective "duh!" from everyone reading, I know.) A piece of advice I received recently is that marriage is a 24/7 Job. That is not a bad thing at all. It just means that it's something that always requires work and is always a work in progress. There is a deception that when you have finally snagged the person you're in love with, everything will be effortlessly perfect and easy; problems and arguments will be either small or non-existent. Every year things will get even better and perfect and lovey dovey until you leave this earth. There's theories where the only time you have real problems is if you married the "wrong" person.

The fact is even if you're with the love of your life, things won't be all sunshine and rainbows. Just like you need constant maintainence and upkeep and progression as an individual, your relationship with your significant other needs to be worked on and evaluated all the time whether you've been together a couple of years or over a decade.

Complacency is a real issue. I read about relationship complacency in articles and heard about it in movies and such and you would think, "Hey It'd never get like that with us, we're crazy about eachother!" But it can happen to ANYONE. Why? Because of life that's why. External forces can effect your relationship and at worst, can make you lose the spark or fire that you once had. Job problems, bills, having children, money issues, personal issues etc. can become such a distraction that you lose sight of your spouse. You get into a routine and get so used to it that you don't evaluate anymore. It just becomes normal. And if you describe your relationship as "normal", that's not necessarily a good thing even though it isn't bad either.

I look back on the quote/unquote "honeymoon" phase and how in the beginning when I first met my wife I was a hopeless romantic. Cute little gifts and presents and thoughtful things I'd do all the time whether long-distance or up close. For a long while that ended and I made excuses which had to do with money, with my time, with stressing about work, not being in the mood because the bills are due or I have to pay a parking ticket or something or the other. And I have learned that's the worst thing you can do.

I read about couples who are in love and have children and raise them and work themselves to the bone raising their kids and doing it all for them until they're off to college and out of the house. The house is empty again and you're back with your spouse. Just the two of you and you dont KNOW THEM anymore. They're like a stranger and people divorce after the kids are out. That's tragic and it could've been prevented by fighting complacency and viewing your marriage as something that is ALWAYS going to need attention, a tune-up, evaluation. You can't sit idly by and be satisfied. You should always strive for better. The only way to do that is to honestly communicate with your spouse, put aside your feelings and insecurities and TALK. Constantly. You have to recharge the batteries and re-light that spark from time to time cause it'll die out without even knowing it if you're not too careful. Regular maintenance is vital and here are just a few of my own personal tips on how keep things fresh:

1. Play - my wife and I are goofballs and our senses of humor are what brought us together and had kept us in love and striving through good times and hard times. It's important to play, joke and laugh with your loved one even in the middle of all the serious things like child doctor's appointments, figuring out the budget, paying the bills and maintaining the household. Life would just be boring if we were just dealing with the serious stuff all the time and the relationship can suffer if playing around is looked down upon.

2. Get away from it all- My wife and I have a toddler and he needs a lot of attention and for some time we were afraid of leaving him alone with anyone and just having time together. It's vital ESPECIALLY when you have children, to have dates like when you were younger before kiddos came into your life. It could be as simple as dropping the kid off with your folks and walking to the park to going back home and just watching Netflix together to going out for dinner and catch a flick at the theater to even taking a mini-vacation where you can spend some quality time. Just getting away from the responsibilities and the stresses of everyday life will do wonders for keeping the spark alive and the fire burning bright.

3. Mix it up - You just can't do the same old same old all the time. And that's been a problem with me at times. Being indecisive, afraid of trying new things or even trying new restaurants to eat because I'm afraid I'll be disappointed and waste my money with something that might suck. If you over think things and become rigid, you'll keep things the same and the excitement will just be zapped out. We tend to forget that when we were younger we always loved to explore and try new experiences andd enjoyed the mystery of doing things that we haven't done before and don't know what to expect.

4. Take pride in the little things - It used to be the little things like a text or a note that would go a long way with my wife when we started out. Then once I got settled into the marriage and got too comfortable, I didn't think those little things were necessary. "Do you really EVEN want flowers?" I'd say to her. I didn't think the little things were worth it anymore. But my wife noticed it and it effected her that I stopped. Sometimes people worry about the big picture, some big expensive gift or some huge romantic act when really a simple gesture of love is all thats needed to keep things flowing and keep the bond strong.

No matter how much people try to hide it or deny it or act like things are fine, EVERY COUPLE struggles at some point with a stale relationship. And the key is to recognize it and not be fine with it and be passive about it. You have to give it a kick, REGULARLY, to keep the passion going. Fixing that staleness doesn't require a lot of work, it just requires a mindset of always wanting to improve and advance the relationship and make it better than it was yesterday.

There's your little bit of romantic PhilAsify for the day, lovebirds, until next time. 

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