Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Taking for your mate forgranted

I read this article recently and I feel it has a lot of merit. I hope you find it insightful. It occurred to me the other day is that love is something we want to take advantage of, meaning that we always want to know that our significant other will be there through thick and thin, and we want to take that part of our closest relationship for granted. However, love is also something that should never be taken for granted. Meaning we need to remember to cherish, cultivate, and exhibit appreciation for our mate and relationship in order for it to last.

In my opinion, people feel that marriage is the point in your life where you don't have to try anymore. You don't have to grow, or change. Once you're married you can let it all hang out, and the other person is duty bound to accept whatever that maybe.

Your partner is likely the closest person in your life, and that is the way it should be. However, they are not an extension of you. Often times we are kind and empathetic to someone outside the family, but display frustration or unkindness to our spouse in the same situation. We lash out at our spouses because they are very close, and this seems normal. However, our mate and family deserve as much, if not more empathy than someone on the outside.

The choice to have a happy and rewarding marriage, relationship, rests in both parties hands. As with all else, everything is either dying or growing.... which camp does your primary relationship fall into?

Guard your primary relationship, and make everyday an renewed effort to make sure your mate knows how important they are to you.

The Danger of Taking Your Marriage for Granted

By Nancy Wasson, Ph.D. and Lee Hefner

Quick, what is the most common attitude a spouse can have that leads a marriage down the path to breakup? If you said taking the partner for granted, you’d be right. Is this an issue in your marriage?

It is human nature to want to be valued, appreciated and nurtured. And when you think about it, these are the essential and fundamental qualities that keep a couple bonded together. They are the positive strokes from a spouse that make it easy to love in return. They are the essence of romance.

In contrast, when a couple lacks these positive strokes of regard, the relationship suffers and the partners drift apart. It’s as if the bricks in the foundation of a house lack mortar. The foundation will eventually crumble and the house will fall down. How does this happen?

Start first by understanding how your relationship got into its present state. Before the wedding during courtship, couples tend to make more effort to look good, show courtesy, and be romantic. They do this to “win” each other’s approval and willingness to get married.

But at some point after the “honeymoon period” has ended, it’s not uncommon for spouses to start taking each other for granted. One partner or the other may think since they have made a lifelong commitment to love each other, that’s enough.

Slowly, over time, the extra romantic gestures, thoughtfulness, expressions of appreciation, and sense of fun and adventure start falling by the wayside. This, in turn, affects the quality of the intimacy in the relationship and the satisfaction level.

At this point in the relationship, many spouses just accept the “status quo” as something that routinely happens as time goes by in a marriage. They figure this is normal, there’s nothing they can do about it, and that what’s most important is they have made a commitment to each other by getting married. They view the marriage as a strong, permanent bond that will keep them together.

This is one of the myths that Allen Berger, Ph.D., addresses in his new book, Love Secrets Revealed: What Happy Couples Know About Having Great Sex, Deep Intimacy and a Lasting Connection. According to Dr. Berger, the reality is that “Romantic relationships and marriages are held together with an extremely fragile emotional bond. Taking a relationship for granted is dangerous and will often result in tragedy.”

He states that “...all romantic relationships have a ‘fragile bond’ that must be nurtured.” He continues by saying that he has seen “hundreds of men and women who, after years of ignoring the quality of their relationships, express shock when a partner decides to leave. They’d based their entire future on the myth that marriage involves a lifelong commitment.”

It’s not enough to rely on a marriage license to hold your relationship together. Relationships need time, effort, energy, attention, and nourishment in order to thrive. Dr. Berger advises couples that “their first child is their relationship” and that this relationship “needs as much care and attention as a human infant.”

It’s not enough to say that spouses “shouldn’t” walk away from their marriages or “shouldn’t” divorce. The reality is that many unhappy spouses do walk out the door, and marriages dowither away and die a slow death.

Read through the following list and see if any of the behaviors mentioned apply to you and your marriage. Each behavior represents a “land mine” of trouble in a marriage:

  1. “If your partner isn’t complaining, everything is probably okay.”

    It’s important to keep communication channels open and to take the time to routinely listen to your spouse and talk deeply about any issues or concerns. Don’t take for granted that all is well if your communication has dried up.
  2. “If you let your appearance go, it’s no big deal.”

    No one likes to feel that their mate doesn’t think they are worth the time and effort to look their best. Being taken for granted in this way won’t keep your romantic and sex life sizzling.
  3. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve stopped doing the little romantic things to show you really care.”

    When a partner stops making romantic and thoughtful gestures, the mate often concludes the partner’s love is lessening. The mate then feels taken for granted, and romantic feelings may dull.
  4. “Now that you’re married, you don’t have to express appreciation or say ‘thank you’ as often.”

    When a partner doesn’t show appreciation or say “thank you,” the mate can feel unimportant and taken for granted. The mate may start thinking, “She’s only married to me for my paycheck” or “He doesn’t value my contributions to the marriage.”
  5. “If you’re too busy (work, hobbies, friends, etc.) to spend quality time together and share some fun activities, it’s okay because you’ll make it up to your spouse later on.”

    People can’t be “put on hold” for weeks, months, and years. Neither can relationships. If you take your spouse for granted in this way, you run the risk of losing your emotional connection and discovering that when you’re finally ready to devote time to the relationship, your partner doesn’t want to be with you.

The commitment you and your spouse made to each other at your wedding is unlikely to be enough to sustain your marriage at a high level of quality over a period of years. If you want more in your marriage month to month, you have to give more—consistently and continuously.

Remember, your relationship is like a garden. You have to care for it consciously and consistently if you want it to produce fruit. And we all want the fruit of love in our marriage, don’t we?


2 comments:

  1. Truer words were never spoken. Thank you!

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  2. Quite an insightful article...How many people do you know that can actually say they have held true to the “you have to give more—consistently and continuously” that is suggested? I completely agree that is so important. When you are in love you give of yourself unselfishly.

    When both partners give like this, you truly have something special. I don’t see this very often. But, I have seen it and am so happy for those special couples who share this type of love. While I can only count them on one hand, it brings a smile when I think of them. What is amazing is that everyone knows who they are and it isn’t because they are so overt in expressing publically their affection. You can just tell by the way they communicate with each other. Some of those who I know are older couples…and you can just see it!

    What is sad is that I have seen some relationships start out with such promise and later end. So many people lose focus on their significant other for a variety of reasons. It is so easy to redirect one’s focus to a career or your kids and move that special person into the background or obligatory type of role in your relationship. Nobody wants to feel like an obligation. Eventually, things begin to fall apart. Balance is a key to appreciating and fulfilling a career, kids and a spouse/significant other. (What I mentioned, doesn’t take into consideration additional challenges such as health issues or extended family challenges that can impact a relationship) As the article mentions, it is so important to give consistently and continuously.

    At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, it seems that some younger women are so in love with the idea of being a bride and having a wedding that they are tempted to overlook shortcomings of a spouse…just to have that dream wedding. At the same time, I would guess that a number of guys may “settle” at some point due to insecurities.
    While none of us realize what is going on the heads of the friends we know; I hope we are all able to be honest and help our friends be honest with themselves before entering into permanent commitments. That doesn’t mean telling them what to do…sometimes, if you listen long enough they (your friends/kids/family members) will figure things out on their own and resolve any remaining concerns.

    At times we all need someone to listen…and a few words of encouragement when encouragement is given sincerely…not just to make one feel better.

    Just my simplistic two cents on the subject…

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