The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Columns

June 13, 2014

Wedded bliss drifting into abyss

June is perhaps the best time for love. The sixth month of the Julian calendar traditionally is recognized as the premier period for couples to celebrate their wedding nuptials.

And strong marriages come from couples who are willing to risk falling in love, willing to risk facing their disappointments and willing to resolve conflicts.

But somewhere in the back of couples' minds, during all of their June wedding preparations, they've probably been wondering how to keep the passion, excitement and attraction alive in their relationship after the honeymoon is over.

According to some Internet sources and counseling services, there are several ways to deepen the passion and keep the relationship thriving and flourishing after the honeymoon is over:

Communicate what is important to you-both in your relationship and your life; understand, embrace and learn from your differences; listen with an open heart and not judge, appreciating each other's gifts; don't bring up old relationships, be a friend to each other, helping to heal emotional wounds; don't run away when things get tough; practice using loving words instead of critical ones, and express your gratitude for that person being in your world.

After all, nobody said that married life is easy. Some would even say it is the toughest human arrangement ever conceived.

That's probably why some say that the institution of marriage in the United States is in serious trouble, because matrimony has steadily declined in strength over past decades.

And for this reason, some demographers now predict that many young Americans in the future will never marry. But as marriage seemingly has faltered in recent decades, rates of divorce, cohabitation and bearing children out of wedlock have soared to record high levels.

While almost 90 percent of children were born to married parents in 1970, the number was less than 60 percent last year.

And among adults between ages 20 and 54, nearly 80 percent were married in 1970, compared with less than 60 percent in 2013.

To be sure, marriage in America largely has gone from bad to worse in recent years, with fewer couples marrying and fewer still saying their lives together are wedded bliss.

In the early 1970s, for instance, some 50 percent of people in their first marriages reported they were “very happy,” according to researchers David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, authors of the National Marriage Project's “State of Our Unions.”

By the mid-1990s, however, the number of “very happy” couples had fallen to about 38 percent; in 2010 the figure was 35 percent. In addition, researchers report that marriages typically fail because couples are devastated when their expectations are not met, or when mounting tensions threaten their emotional bliss.

Everyone who has the courage to fall in love hopes for the perfect partner, and during the honeymoon phase we are willing to forgive a temporary lapse in our loved one. But later on into the matrimonial contract, couples may soon realize that some of these lapses are not temporary, and the recognition could awaken fears that they might not have secured the perfect, reliable and endless love necessary to meet their expectations.

In other words, is he ready to see his wife in the morning without her makeup? Is she ready to deal with his snoring? Is he ready to deal with her “high maintenance” clothing, toilet articles, cosmetics, and dieting habits?

Even so, the honeymoon is a wonderful time during the relationship when we try to present our best selves to new lovers whom we tend to idealize and who idealize us.

Serious conflicts and disagreements generally are to be avoided. This is an important time for emotional bonding, for forging deeper relations and it typically lasts for about six months, although it could last much longer.

And even if couples find the honeymoon stage of their relationship inevitably coming to an end, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. A new chapter offers a chance to grow in other ways, presenting opportunities for increased intimacy through family ties and home-making experiences.

Perhaps the key is to create a respect for him/her and celebrate each other's differences-after all, differences are what attract us in the first place.

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Top o' the morning!

— Blankenship is a freelance columnist for The Register-Herald.

E-mail: jabbb@suddenlink.net

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