My husband, Kiran, and I were each married before for about six years when we were younger. Both of us then spent several years in unfulfilling, on again/off again relationships.
The good news is the suffering we endured, combined with therapy and a lot of work on ourselves, got us to an incredible place. When we finally came together in our late 30s, we had a strongly defined sense of who we were, what we wanted in a partner, and how to forge a supportive, loving and happy marriage.
Here are some of the lies we uncovered along the way.
1. Relationships are work.
Sure, you have to put effort into your relationship—because you make it your top priority. That means taking time to have difficult conversations, dedicating yourself to staying close and being supportive of your partner.
But you shouldn’t spend more time talking about your relationship than being in it. Trust us. We have both been in those situations, and they were miserable.
Kiran and I truthfully experience ease and joy in our marriage almost all the time. We’re in the flow. Yes, we occasionally have disagreements. But we’re able to get vulnerable, dig deep to the root cause and process whatever was upsetting or hurtful. Then we’re back to a place of trust.
If you feel like your relationship is a lot of work, it’s probably not the right one for you.
2. Sexual desire fades anyway. It’s not that important.
You may not have the same rampant sexual desire for your partner five years into a relationship as you do at the start, but passion should remain. Intimacy requires intimacy. It’s up to you to keep the sexiness alive.
Take responsibility for maintaining a sassy, fun, playful energy in your relationship. Role-play. Sext during the workday. Buy new lingerie. Keep your partner tantalized.
Furthermore, as you get more comfortable in your relationship and come to trust your partner more, you may find that you’re willing to take greater risks, exploring sexual fantasies and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. You may just find that your sexual desire grows far beyond what you experienced early on.
3. We all lead separate lives.
Obviously you and your partner are two separate people. Chances are that you have jobs that take you to different places and friends with whom you enjoy hanging out separately. But beware of too much distance.
Kiran experienced this issue in his first marriage. While on perfectly friendly terms, he and his then-wife spent so much time living apart pursuing their independent dreams that they lost their intimate connection.
Make a serious effort to ensure quality time: alone, with other family members and with friends. If you want to remain partners, then create a life together.
4. You have to compromise.
You should be prepared to compromise on the little things, yes. If she really wants to eat at a sandwich while you’d rather get Chinese, sometimes it’s best to capitulate to her plan.
On the other hand, you should never compromise your core values: what matters to you on a fundamental level, like wanting to have kids.
Five years into my first marriage, I realized I had made so many compromises in order to accommodate my husband that I didn’t recognize the person I’d become. I was a stranger in my own life. I had to leave.
The kinds of compromises you should make are ones that involve letting go of ego attachments to everyday preferences. The ones you shouldn’t make undermine your sense of self. Always stay true to who you are.
5. It only gets worse.
This is perhaps the most insidious lie perpetuated by modern culture. We see romantic comedies in which two people come together in perfect bliss … but the story ends there. Then there’s an onslaught of media in which marriage is portrayed as a long, painful fade into the twilight of mediocrity at best, bitterness, fighting and divorce at worse.
Not true. Kiran and I have found our love growing explosively since we united over three years ago. Where are the other inspirational stories, we wonder? They’re harder to find because the drama that fuels storytelling comes from either overcoming obstacles to finding true love or losing it. But they’re out there.
Look around at your friends, coworkers and family members. Identify a couple that inspires you and make time to be with them. You might be amazed at what you discover.