by Gina B.
Unfortunately, I know a lot of couples who are divorcing. It’s sad, because in some cases I’ve watched their relationships progress from the promising inception to the painful demise. There are a variety of reasons that couples split, with one of the most popular being financial. In many cases, however? When one half of the couple looks back on their relationship, quite a few will report that the people that they divorced are not the people they married. They confess that their marriages might be salvageable if those original people returned to the relationships.
Conversely, I have role model couples who have been together forever. While no relationship is perfect, these couples impress me with their abilities to find ways to make their marriages work.
I enjoy asking long-tenured couples the secrets to their success. One of my friends once gave me the best answer – she says that her husband has always been consistent throughout their courtship and marriage. He opens doors, communicates with her, and makes her a priority. Those attributes are a part of who he is. They’re why she was attracted to him in the beginning, and a good part of why she has remained attracted to him two kids and 15 years later.
It sounds simple, but while you’re in the relationship, it’s important to understand the reasons why your significant other was attracted to you in the beginning, and keep doing those things. Know your person’s deal-breakers and boundaries, and stay within those lines.
Some are obvious, like there’s a great chance that your significant other will leave you if you start cheating. But there are the smaller, day-to-day, seemingly trivial things that will compound over time and become huge problems.
In another of my role model couples, the wife fantasizes about a cute short haircut, which would make her husband extremely unhappy. One of the things that attracted him was her long mane of thick hair. Some would say that he’s being shallow and she’s allowing him to control her. However, she looks at it as keeping his interest. She knows her husband, and since she’s been happily married for a long time, I’d say she’s doing something right.
If your significant other was initially attracted to you because you were a healthy person who consumed neither red meat nor alcohol, it shouldn’t be surprising if they balk during the relationship when you’ve developed a sudden penchant for bacon and bourbon.
Or, if you were once a clear communicator who has suddenly become tight-lipped and quiet, your significant other is going to wonder what happened.
If the foundation of your relationship was a shared religious belief, converting to a different faith will probably not be well-received.
Don't underestimate the physical.
Ladies, this might not be a popular opinion, but I’m saying it with love. If he was attracted to you and married you at a svelte 120 lbs, and over time you’ve ballooned to 220, he might still profess his love for your mind and personality, but he WILL mourn your body.
Oh, and guys? Before you think you’re off the hook, you’re not excluded! She might tease you lovingly and kiss your Buddha belly, but she will wonder how her weightlifting, gym rat with the ridiculous six-pack that caught her eye all of those years ago has turned into the gassy, couch-lover whose idea of sit-ups is getting out of bed every day.
If you can help it, help it!
And let’s not forget about the sex. PLEASE don’t forget about the sex! If you were doing crazy circus tricks in the bedroom when you started dating, you can’t reduce it to 10 monthly minutes of mechanical passionless activity. Some of my married friends (especially those on the cusp of divorce or separation) claim that they’ve had bank transactions more interesting than sex with their spouses.
And really? Why would ANYONE want a relationship devoid of hot, body-rocking, awe-inspiring sex?
Before any parents raise their hands, the presence of children is NOT an excuse. While life might be more hectic and resources are stretched, keep in mind that the relationship began with the two of you, and no matter how much you love your kids, you still have a responsibility to one another. You might be tired, but you owe it to each other to work it out.
Yes, over time things happen to us that we can't help. We age, and some of us develop health issues. None of us will be beautiful forever. People grow and circumstances change, but there’s something to be said about trying to preserve the consistency. People move into new houses, get new jobs, suffer family tragedy, etc., but throughout the change, it’s nice to know that there is something wonderful to rely on.