How To Make Your Marriage Last (a MUST read)
September 10, 2020
“Til’ death do us part,” remains in most wedding vows today despite high rates of divorce and separation. This is because although marriage can be difficult, most couples enter it with the full intention of spending their lives together, even when a percentage of them don’t.
We use the term ‘lovespan’ to refer to the longevity of marriage To state the obvious, those who set lengthy lovespan goals and are willing to put forth the effort and energy to nurture their relationship, have the best chances for long and happy marriages.
How to Increase Your Marriage Lovespan
Three critical components determine lovespan. They are commitment, intimacy, and respect. Are they the only 3? Probably not, but couples who invest time and energy in these three areas of their relationship do tend to remain together longer and have happier lives because of it.
While remaining faithful to your partner is part of the commitment you make to your spouse, true commitment is much more than just fidelity. When you are committed to a marriage, you vow to not give up – in sickness, health, feast, or famine. In all cases, the relationship takes priority. Commitment is keeping your promises and honoring those promises even when you don’t feel like doing it anymore.
Your commitment to the marriage, and to each other, is the single most important determining factor in having a long marriage. It’s easy to stick with promises when things are easy and you feel love for each other, but a long-lasting relationship means many years of all kinds of seasons. There will be stress from various sources and days when you question whether this relationship is worth the effort. There will be boredom. There will be changes in levels of attraction. There will be good sex, bad sex, and seasons of no sex. There will be layers of hurt, betrayal, and disappointments from unmet expectations. Some days the only thing holding you together is the commitment to stick together, and that commitment builds trust and creates safety which fosters the perfect environment for healthy intimacy.
I get it, commitment isn’t viewed as sexy by most people. It can feel like a burden and honestly, sometimes it really is a burden. But there is also an upside to it and it’s knowing you aren’t going to lose the stability of your entire life once your partner realizes you aren’t perfect. You can exhale. It’s feeling secure in a world where the temptation for more and better is around every corner. It is knowing your partner is going to choose you every single day because that’s what he/she said they would do, and you trust they will. As I age, nothing is sexier to me now than commitment.
Some of you may read “intimacy” and immediately think ‘sex’, but they aren’t the same. Sex can certainly be a very intimate experience, but there is much more to intimacy than just sex or physical intimacy. Intimacy is about the emotional connection between two people. It’s about sharing day to day moments and experiences and not just body parts. In fact, most intimate moments between a couple happen outside of the bedroom. It’s the inside joke only the two of you get, the loving touch as you walk into the restaurant, or the quick glance you give as you pass each other in the hallway.
Intimacy is the willingness to be known and to know your partner. It requires vulnerability, transparency, and openness from each of you. It also means you must watch your respective reactivity – either shutting down when your partner gets too close or judgemental when your partner shares something with which you may not agree. Intimacy breeds where there are emotional security and trust. When trust is lacking in a relationship, your lovespan is likely to decrease.
Now, before I move on, however, I do want to talk a bit about sex. While intimacy is much more than just sex, sex is an important part of intimacy in marriage, and I don’t want to gloss over it. I see a lot of people who are very unhappy with the amount or quality of sex in their relationship. But instead of working through this in a productive way, I see couples pout, pressure, manipulate, or seethe with anger. I see them shut down and shut off. I see them justify not having sex and condemning their partners to live in a sexless marriage. I see them justify affairs and porn because their partners don’t want to have sex. I hear them say they have tried “everything” and their partner simply will not change, or that they are simply waiting till the kids leave and then they are gone. What I don’t hear often enough, however, are couples truly curious to understand why their spouse wants more or less or better sex, and who are prepared to fully own and work on their respective part of the issue – because the truth is, a sex issue is almost always a both of your issue. I could write pages and pages on this topic alone – and will – but not here! But let me leave with this – if the sexual part of your relationship is broken and limiting the intimacy in your relationship, get help. And when you do, be prepared to take an honest look at the issue. If you want to work with us, give us a shout.
And finally, respect. Respect includes having healthy respect not only for your partner but also for yourself. Be the kind of person to whom you would want to be married. Stop and think about that for a minute.
If something isn’t going well, get it fixed. If you drive a brand new car, I bet you tend to be vigilant about parking it in a safe space and making sure it’s clean and well maintained. If you drive a clunker, chances are you don’t care as much. Treat your marriage and your partners like the brand new Tesla or the pristine antique Model T, instead of the beat-up Ford Pinto that’s already missing 3 hubcaps.
A relationship absent of respect is a relationship that will fall apart without some serious triage.
If your relationship is in need of serious triage or simple adjustments, marriage coaching or counseling is one place you can start. All too often, couples wait until the proverbial engine is falling out of the car before they come in to see a marriage ‘mechanic’. Please don’t let that be you. If you want your lovespan to last a lifetime, do your routine maintenance. We can help you get started.
How healthy is your marriage?
ready to have a conversation?
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