I am going to combine three of the myths into one for this posting:
1. If we have true love then we shouldn’t have to “work” at our marriage; it will simply be a natural process.
2. If our marriage does not have the same hormonal fireworks as our courtship and newlywed days, we are failing.
3. We just sort of fell out of love.
Many years ago as I was struggling to define myself and figure out why my marriage relationship seemed to be stuck and stagnant I happened to hear the Bruce Springsteen song, “One Step Up and Two Steps Back.” Springsteen comes to an important realization as he sings, “I look in the mirror and I don’t see the man I wanted to be—somewhere along the line I slipped off track; one step up and two steps back.”
As I looked in my mirror I came to the same conclusion that I had slipped off track; and then with a new sense of purpose I took accountability for my own failings and neglect of my relationship and set out on a new relationship journey, committed to a new way of growth and rebuilding. It was the best commitment I ever made.
A vibrant, living marriage relationship provides us with the greatest test to our commitment and resiliency that most of us will ever know. It is a complex organism that will both delight and humble us. It is the great schoolroom and laboratory of life that will expose all of our weaknesses and failings, even as it refines us and, if we let it, ultimately leads us to become the people we are meant to be.
Perhaps the saddest thing we see is people who waste the potentially ennobling experiences of marriage and instead complain that they “have just lost the feelings,” or criticize their partner for not meeting their picture of the “ideal.”
Marriage is meant to be a challenging, rewarding, confusing, fulfilling, frustrating, joyful crucible of experiences that constantly tests us even as it rewards us with the sweetest fruits we will ever know.
The supercharged romantic experience of early marriage is meant to decline in favor of a strong, fulfilling, and lasting companionship. This does not mean the fire and passion dies, but instead gives off a constant warmth of comfort and safety rather than sparks and explosions that exhaust and eventually jade us.
As we deal with the challenges and opportunities of marriage in healthy and learning ways we will experience more and more joy and pleasure and less and less pain and frustration. We have a choice: learn the enduring lessons marriage has to offer and discover peace and harmony; or live in the insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
One of the principles that marriage most wants to teach us is Humility. As we maintain a sense of openness and teachability everything becomes possible. From such a position we will recognize the need to develop and grow in our relationships through learning and experience. We will understand that marriage contentment and success lies much more in our willingness to change ourselves than in demanding change of our partner. We will come to learn that the key to building a better marriage is to first build a better self, then bring that better self into the relationship day by day.
If you find yourself exhausted and bedraggled in your relationship one of the best ways to get back on track is to attend a LIFE Marriage Retreat. At the Retreat you will deal with the issues and challenges that have bogged you down even as you learn the principles and skills that define every successful marriage and feel those gain traction in your heart and relationship.