Making Your Honeymoon Last
After fourteen years of marriage, Jim and Sue realized that almost imperceptibly they had grown apart. Jim was frustrated and no longer looked forward to going home after work. Sue was unhappy, too, and was putting on considerable weight as a result of trying to fill the “empty hole in her heart” with food.
“What can I do?” she queried. “I have everything a woman could want—a beautiful home, lovely family, my own car, freedom, enough money. Jim has given me everything—everything except himself. I just don’t feel close to him anymore.”
Like millions of other couples, Jim and Sue didn’t realize that a happy marriage doesn’t happen by chance. To keep it alive is a choice both partners need to make, and this requires commitment and work. There are many positive steps a couple needs to take to make the honeymoon last, but there are also some “don’ts” such as the following seven.
First, don’t take your partner for granted. This is what Jim and Sue had done. Jim failed to realize that Sue needed to feel loved, cherished, appreciated, and honored. The only way she could feel these is if Jim not only told her how much he loved her, but showed it through his actions in many little acts of kindness, such as by spending quality time with Sue, listening to her joys and concerns, and sharing his with her—every day. All of which would have shown that Sue was more important to him than his work, hobbies, or sports. Sue needed to reciprocate the same for Jim.
Second, don’t project blame onto your partner when things go wrong. Most marriages go through some rough times. But these can be profitable if they motivate couples towards personal and spiritual growth-individually, and together. When problems arise, realize that we marry the person we feel safe with—often where our unresolved issues from the past mesh. And, if we are not careful, the things that drew us together can end up driving us apart.
To the degree that I
overreact is my problem.
This is why conflicts are rarely one-sided. Each is usually contributing something, even if it’s just being too “nice” and not having healthy boundaries. Furthermore, most of us bring baggage (unresolved issues) from the past into our marriage. Any of this baggage that we haven’t resolved can readily cause us to overreact and dump the blame on our spouse, or take out our unresolved issues on him or her. Our spouse may trigger these problems, but never cause them. In fact, to the degree that I overreact is my problem. This I need to acknowledge and take responsibility for.
Third, don’t let the sun go down on hurt and angry feelings. To keep the honeymoon alive it is imperative that couples learn to communicate effectively, especially at the feelings level. The biggest complaint I hear from wives is that “my husband doesn’t understand my feelings and doesn’t share his with me”. Without a mutual sharing of feelings it is impossible to have intimacy.
In our culture, while change is coming slowly, it is still difficult for many to share their feelings, especially for men who were taught early in life that to do so was weak—especially when it comes to crying. Also, many women were taught that to show anger wasn’t ladylike. However, when we are hurt or angry and withdraw, this builds up a barrier between couples. Or if we lash out and “dump” on our partner that can be destructive too. One of the worst things we can do with our feelings is to bury or repress them, because when we put walls around our negative feelings, we eventually put walls around our positive feelings as well.
5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.
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