While life certainly has its fair share of ups and downs, the vast majority of it is spent walking a constant plain. Work, spouse, kids, soccer practice etc. There are moments of sheer bliss and seasons of complete discouragement. On either side of the highs and lows is a routine we might call normalcy, mundane or simply life as usual.
Marriage and relationships are no different. As with life, relationships have their own share of high’s and lows mixed in with a heavy dose of the daily grind. When we first start out, it seems like everything is a constant “high.” Our significant other can do no wrong. We would do or sacrifice anything for them, no matter how great the cost.
As time goes on, the newness lessons and we learn that no matter how perfect someone seems, we all have flaws. We begin mixing daily life, careers, eventually kids and countless other time sapping activities into our routine of life and life can seem to stagnate.
And then of course there are those moments we dread. Financial problems, irritating habits, disrespectful attitudes and unloving behaviors. Life throws any number of situations at us and those circumstances can upset our relationship routine in an instant. We are individual people and no matter how selfless we think we are, our number one priority is always…ME. Eventually personalities will clash and someone will get rubbed the wrong way.
In those moments, we welcome a return to normalcy.
Discouragement in relationships can be brought on by any number of situations. It may be work related, behavioral or a bad attitude by one or both persons. Sometimes the normal routine of life itself can be the greatest cause of dissension. I’m the type of person that needs change. I want something to look forward to and strive for. While I like the consistency and assurance of a routine, I also need something to get excited about to keep me moving forward.
When we find ourselves in one of these situations, whether that’s going through hardship or simply getting tired of the same old routine, it helps to try and step outside of our situation and get a new perspective.
First of all, no relationship is without conflict. I know a woman who was married to a very distant husband. Because they hardly communicated they almost never fought. His apparent lack of interest in the relationship ultimately caused her to leave the marriage but when she remarried, this time to a communicator, she found herself in constant debate. After a while she assumed they must have a bad marriage because, after all, she never fought with her first husband. The difference isn’t that she remarried a controlling man or someone prone to have issues, it's that her first marriage was to someone that wasn’t really all that interested in the marriage.
Every relationship will face conflict at some point. We are individual beings trying to do life together and at some point, our opinions or preferences will clash. We have to recognize we are each individuals and that our view on something may not always be shared by our spouse. When it comes to serious matters like money, kids, roles (oooh I can see the hair standing up on some peoples necks) it's important to learn each others views before committing to spending the rest of your life together.
Secondly, we have to look at the situation and ask if we are doing (or not doing) something that is contributing to our apparent unhappiness. Some people define insanity as doing the same thing and expecting different results. If you find yourself constantly in conflict or constantly bored with life or a relationship what can you do to change that?
All too often I hear people ask the question “what happened? We used to do stuff. Hike, camp fish, exercise, travel. Now we go to work and come home.” People claim to have fallen out of love with someone but if you’re not doing the things you did when you fell in love with them, perhaps that’s your answer.
Now I know life comes and goes and a couple with kids has nowhere near the freedom that a young couple just starting out has. But if you seriously feel like you're falling out of love or one person is no longer committed, reexamine your relationship for what’s missing. Chances are good when you started out you spent a good deal of time together. Alone. Communicating and just enjoying each other. Not worrying about jobs, bills, braces or Dr’s appointments.
I know those things can become overwhelming but life will reach a whole new level of difficulty if those menial things end up contributing to the dissolution of your marriage. I’m pretty confident the kids would rather miss a season of soccer or ballet if it means mom and dad will stay together in the long run.
Lastly, we have to do what we should have been doing all along, communicate. A relationship will not last, or not remain in good health, if both people aren’t able to openly and completely communicate with one another. A wife needs to be able to share her needs as well as her wants without fear of being criticized. It doesn’t mean everything will be settled overnight but it allows her voice to be heard and lets her husband know what they can do to earn the love and admiration of their wife.
Our culture is obsessed with telling men not to talk about their feelings but if a man feels no respect in his own home, he’s not going to want to spend much time there. We crave respect and when it comes from the most important person in our life, there is little that can stand in our way. Without communication, there’s no way a man who feels disrespected by his wife will be able to tell his wife what he needs.
Conflict in marriage began in Genesis when Adam and Eve cast the blame for eating what God told them not to. It’s gone on for thousands of years and no amount of money, sex or fame will eliminate the fact that husbands and wives will have conflicts.
Married life will have joy, pain and lots and lots of routine. When we reach those moments and it doesn’t seem like what we signed up for, remember that every situation can get better if we’re willing to openly and honestly examine ourselves and our situation. If the routine is getting you down, what can you do to shake things up? Chances are if you're feeling burnt out, your spouse probably feels the same. Effort on your part to liven up the relationship will likely reignite their passion for the relationship. Regardless of the situation, it takes work, compromise and complete commitment.