Who doesn't want to experience the fairy tale of finding your soulmate and falling in love? Many women are under the false impression that once you find your soul mate, life forever after will be blissful and perfect: The two of you will ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Right? Wrong!
Most couples settle into a too-comfortable routine when things become longterm. Relationships definitely have their ups and downs, but wouldn't it be nice if there were more ups, even after the magic fades? Studies show that couples that lose the feeling of romance in the first two years of their marriage are more likely to eventually divorce. Besides, the demands of parenthood, work and everything else that we have to do in life often take a toll on a marriage, and the communication, intimacy and romance get put on the back burner.
When we feel the stresses that life throws at us, we often take out our anxiety and frustration out on our partner, and any little thing that they do can irritate us. Months or years of focusing on the irritating things your lover does can chip away at the love and desire to be with that person. Sometimes we even go so far as to criticize, unfairly judge, snap or even yell and call our partner names.
A recent article in the News-Sentinal states, "Do not let criticism become a pattern. Instead, turn the temptation to criticize into an opportunity to praise, when dealing with your spouse, and recognize the differences in how men and women communicate. Recognize the moment as an opportunity to strengthen your marriage, not undermine it."
I once asked an ex of mine why he felt it was OK to speak to me with such distain and criticism. I said, "If you spoke to your friends the way you speak to me, you wouldn't have any friends." He admitted that he felt he could "get away" with it because he knew that I wouldn't leave him. He took me for granted, and didn't feel that he needed to treat me with the respect that he would give to a stranger. Thankfully, I was able to move on from that relationship.
I have been married to my husband for twelve years now, and we went through some rough patches along the way. He is a passionate Latino and I am a wildly independent woman—I don't appreciate being told what to do! For a long time I focused on how irritating and controlling my husband seemed to me, and everything he said made me defensive and angry. He really did only have my best interest at heart, but his delivery was lacking. Neither of us were happy, and wondered how to turn it around. So I started to do a lot of inner work and study. The saying, "The only person you can change is yourself," is absolutely true. On my own journey I have discovered three keys to a harmonious, lasting and sexy relationship... even through the arguments and stressors.
Try these powerful exercises and watch things turn around like magic:
- Get a beautiful notebook and call it your "book of positive aspects". Every day, make a list of five things that you love, find endearing, cute, appreciate, or just kind of like about your partner; or anything else on a positive note. Soon your perspective will shift to seeing more and more of the positive aspects when you interact with your honey.
- Develop a short memory. If you do get into a tiff or your partner does or says something that really riles you up, make up, discuss it, then forgive and forget. Dredging up something that was said last week, last month, or last year is not helpful — and only keeps the negative feelings on the surface. If you can learn to leave the past in the past, the present will be so much sweeter.
- Find something that the two of you can do together as "your thing". Every Sunday morning my husband and I go out for breakfast. There's an authentic Mexican hole-in-the-wall in our neighborhood that has the best handmade tortillas and the richest coffee. The service is the slowest in town — it takes about thirty minutes just to get served a plate of eggs — but for us it is a long, leisurely meal together that allows us to connect, talk about our week and anything else that might come up. My husband loves it. Sometimes I can't even get ready fast enough. My husband springs out of bed, gets dressed and heads for the door, "You can shower later Marlita. Vamanos, Mexican breakfast!"
When we appreciate the little things and remember that your soul mate is only human and is doing the best that he knows how, you will have more compassion, patience and love for your man.
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