Can Love Grow After 20 Years Of Marriage?
Can love grow or does it fizzle out over time? After 20 years of marriage, this is something that’s been on my mind the last few years. Is it possible to stay with the same person and forget all the bullshit you’ve put each other through? Do the good times erase the bad? If you’ve had some rough patches, can you let go of the anger and hurt and keep loving each other? (By the way, I'm not assuming all couples have bumpy rides, this post is addressing the many of us who do.) We all have our own story, this is mine.
Lately in my circle it seems so many couples are splitting up. It’s usually when the kids get a little older, and then the unraveling begins. When the seas get rough, when you don’t see eye to eye, when you start to lose that sparkle and stop putting in some effort, is this the next logical step, divorce? Do we forget the hard work, the love, the sweat and tears and sleepless nights? How about the romance, the passion?
What really freaks me out is I’ve seen couples I never imagined separated, couples I thought were flawless, couples I'd look at and think, Wow, they have it all, they treat each other so well, and with such respect... If only we had what they had!”
Well, the grass is not always greener and I had to get out there and start tending my own lawn to begin my journey, nurturing and growing love in my own heart and home.
This is what I’m continuing to work on:
1. I redesigned my approach in my relationship, what I was doing and how I was doing it. Something clicked in my head (after banging it against a wall over and over.) What I’ve learned intellectually and spiritually over the years I’ve been actively putting into action on a more regular basis.
2. I’ve stopped trying to change the other person. (That doesn’t work, by the way.)
3. I made a conscious decision to shift my focus from the materialistic aspects of what I thought “makes” a perfect relationship and focus on being in the moment and having gratitude for what we do have.
4. I stopped taking things so personally. (People say stupid things when they’re freaking out about something. Let it go.)
6. I reached out to my closest friends and opened a dialogue about what I was feeling in my relationship. It’s amazing how much you can learn from others by simply opening your heart, talking honestly and listening actively.
7. I made cuddle time with my partner. Cuddle time is awesome, it’s free and can lead to a deeper intimacy. We get so caught up in being tired, stressed out and overworked that we often turn away from each other when we need each other the most.
8. And the hardest of all: Facing my fears and looking inward. This process is allowing me to make changes that in turn are opening my heart. Forgiving and loving myself was the first step. But then something incredible happened, this love I was giving myself began to spill into my relationships with my partner, my mother, father, sister, my friends, even strangers.
It didn’t happen overnight but love was growing, burning brighter and stronger. This is a love that I can feel in my bones, in my soul. I can see it, touch it, taste it. It’s not always automatic, but it’s real. It’s kinda corny, I guess, but I really am a happier, more peaceful person because I’m learning to love myself, give love, receive love, be in love.
The size of our home hasn’t changed, our bank account is always strained, and we stress over our kids and how we're going to help them gain the tools they’ll need to be successful adults with a decent shot in this world. But the simple moments are sweeter, the pace is easier, we hold hands, laugh at ourselves more, and now we take a lot of walks together, with the dog.