At some point or another, we’ve all seen or heard of that adorable couple that has been married for 25-30 years and are still passionately in love. It seems it is more of a rare find these days, but not impossible. If you were to ask these couples what the secret is to keeping the love alive in their marriage, I promise there will be one certain commonality: it did not just happen. Staying in love requires determination, commitment, and purposeful effort on the part of both spouses.
If you visit a beautiful garden with flourishing flowerbeds and neatly trimmed edges, you know someone has been hard at work keeping it that way. By the same token, if you encounter a garden full of weeds, overgrown bushes and thorns everywhere, it’s obvious that garden has been neglected or not cared for. Marriages are like gardens, requiring continual effort and intention the keep the weeds and unruly sprouts at bay. You can invest in every tool, shovel and trimmer on the market, but you have to use those tools on a regular basis if you want that garden to thrive.
Each person brings into a relationship their own unique stories and perspectives. Family of origin, differing perspectives on conflict, expectations around intimacy, finances and navigating extended family can trigger intense emotions in any season of a relationship. Arguments are to be expected and crises are par for the course of living. Putting effort into the foundation of your relationship, and strengthening the true bond between you and your partner can help feed your motivation to continue to work with one another when life’s challenges arise.
Leading couples researcher, Dr. Sue Johnson discusses the bond between couples being important so “life’s joys can be savored, and hurts can be tolerated and survived.” Her book, Hold Me Tight®: 7 Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, outlines ways in which couples can structure their conversations, interactions and understanding of their deepest vulnerabilities to improve lasting connection.
Reading the book, or even attending a couple’s workshop, is an active way to dedicate time your marriage and help it thrive! It takes work to stay in love.