The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Life!

June 13, 2010

Keeping marriage alive after the honeymoon

— June is the time for love.

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 your mind, during all of your June wedding preparations, you’ve probably been wondering how to keep the passion, excitement and attraction alive in your relationship after the honeymoon is over.

According to some Internet sources and counseling services, there are at least six ways to deepen your passion and keep your relationship thriving and flourishing after the honeymoon:

 Consciously communicate what is most important to you — both in your relationship and your life. Schedule a time each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, to turn off the TV, sit close and make eye contact with each other. Take turns talking about your desires and expectations.

 Understand, embrace and learn from your differences. Talk about these differences and share things that are important to you. Remember to listen with an open heart and not judge. Turn your attention to appreciating one another’s gifts.

 Leave all the stuff from previous relationships with those old relationships. Learn how to help each other heal emotional wounds. In other words, be a friend to each other.

 Don’t run away when things get tough. Keep talking until you resolve your differences in an amicable way. Tell each other how you are feeling without finger-pointing.

 Make conscious agreements with your partner. Take an inventory of what you want and be honest with each other. These agreements build trust in your relationship.

 Treat each day as if it were your last together. Practice using loving words instead of critical ones with each other and express your gratitude for that person being in your life. Choose to love each other with thoughts, actions and words and you will see a positive difference in your relationship.

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

And like most things of value, marital happiness is earned, mostly through hard work and self-sacrifice.

Few would argue that there is value to giving more than you receive, that there is value in placing marriage above one's individual wants or wishes.

At the same time, it’s both wonderful and difficult to risk falling in love, and it’s also very hard to face the disappointments of our idealizations. However, moving through conflicts and finding resolution as a couple (and a clearer personal identity as an individual) is the gateway to real intimacy and happiness.

Perhaps the key is to create a respect for and celebration of differences-after all, differences are what attract us in the first place.

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