AHHHHHH...... remember the newness of your relationship? Everything was so exciting, everything he said was so interesting, everything he said was sooo funny and when he took your hand for the first time you thought this may literally be what it feels like to touch a live wire?
Or not. Wait what? What if it's not always like the movies? What if your love story was meant to happen differently? What if your story was meant to happen at a slower, steadier pace, when you least expected it and certainly weren't expecting it? What if it began as friendship and it started out as a like instead of a love? What if you met on-line? Is it really possible to fall in love with someone you've never actually seen in person? Touched? Looked into their eyes?
What if you met that person in high school? Can you really be sure he is the one if you never dated anyone else? What if it doesn't happen until later in life? Can you really have that amazing connection to someone if they were absent for the first half of your life?
Which of these relationship beginnings is the right way? Which one will endure the test of time? The test of real life interference? Is there a perfect way to start a relationship? Of course there isn't - but we sure spend a lot of time analyzing, researching and stressing over HOW we will find love! Why is that do you think?
Does it really matter? Are we on a mission to prove that our marriage is somehow stronger than others because of how it started? How long it's been? Don't get me wrong, a marriage that has lasted for years is amazing, it can (and should) be a testament to the power of that relationship.
But there are also marriages that have gone on way too long, hung on for years for the sake of convenience, kids, money, hope? Marriages that should have been set free a long time ago and weren't, aren't. They parade themselves around with a "We've been married for 25 years" banner flying above while the truth is, the people holding that banner are falling apart at the seams, miserable with themselves and each other.
Oh wait, this is a Valentine's Day post - let's keep it about hearts and roses right? Well maybe we should keep it real instead. Maybe if we were a bit more real with our expectations than we wouldn't always feel like we're failing?
FINDING THE SPARK
This could honestly be the shortest thing I've ever written. Why? Because you will just know. THIS is not something that should require work. If you have to actively try to ignite the spark with someone you have JUST began dating than please send this relationship out to pasture... to die.
Your heart will skip a beat when you hear their name, you will get butterflies in your stomach when you know you are about to see them. You will find yourself checking your phone to make sure you didn't miss a call or text from them. They will have the ability to change your entire mood just by something they do (or don't).
When I first met my husband I would literally feel like I was either going to faint or throw up if I knew we were going to be in the same place. When I would see him walking towards me I would get weak in the knees. When he talked to me I don't know that what he said even mattered, I laughed at every word and had zero desire to have my eyes focused on anyone else.
Even if you start out as friends, when the above type of things start to occur is when you know that maybe this is turning into something more. But you will know, you can't force it, you will just feel it - Cupids arrow when you least expect it.
For all you single ladies out there, younger or older or somewhere in between... One thing I have learned and seen again and again over the years is this - if a man wants you to be in his life, if he wants a relationship with you, he will literally move mountains to make it happen.
Remember that movie, "He's just Not That Into You"? every single scenario in that movie is true. Stop making excuses for someone who doesn't call or text you back, who cancels plans at the last minute, who waits to see if there's something better going on before making plans with you.
Men like a challenge, they like to feel like they have something that was unattainable to someone else. If the guy you are interested in is being wishy washy with you and you are unsure of his feelings than put him to the test.
So many times we are scared to call someones bluff, scared to walk away. If you aren't getting what you really want than what is the point in staying anyways? You teach people how to treat you. Teach your possible future husband that you are worthy of being sought after.
Be a challenge, make him work for you because YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Okay, where were we????
KEEPING THE SPARK
The million dollar question right? I have been married for 16 years, we dated for 5 years before that. As of last year we have been together for half of my life. Pretty good right? I think so. Does it make me an expert on relationships? No. Because my husband is not like yours and I am not like you and the chemistry him and I have with each other will not be the same as you have with your husband, we are all so different - even just from a biological standpoint!
Then you throw in all the external factors! Life, careers, kids, money, health and how are your husbands coping skills anyhow? How are yours? Did you discuss this before you were married? Would you have even been able to answer?
Marriage is often a learn as you go commitment - I am committed to learning how to deal with and handle lifes ups and downs - with you.
You and your husband have to find your own formula for success, for YOUR marriage. It may not be the same as your parents, your sisters, your friends.
Never underestimate the power of making each other laugh, laughter can get you through almost anything. Not because it will make everything better but because in the present moment it's light will outshine the dark and it will refuel your soul like nothing else.
Always make an effort to be the person you were that your husband fell in love with. Yes we change as we get older, hopefully you both change, at the same pace, for the better. Be an example, he will follow suit.
My parents have been married for 45 years. Growing up my Dad would come home from work at the same time every day. He would walk up the stairs, into the kitchen and the first thing he would do was walk over to my Mother and kiss her hello. Then he would say hi to everyone else.
It was the smallest of gestures that meant so much. It was letting us all know that she was his priority, they were a team, they were parents but they were ALSO a couple.
Remember those things that ignited the spark? Make a conscious effort to still do the things that first took his breath away. Compliment him, ask him about his day, what's happening at work (and be engaged when he answers), ask him how he's feeling? Make him dinner, bring him coffee, touch up your makeup, don't go to bed looking homeless (must work on this myself).
TALK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE!!! Do you do this? and I don't just mean your retirement fund. Make plans for when the kids go to college, what will you do with yourselves? Have inside jokes with each other, sit on the couch with each other, next to each other with your legs tangled. Go to bed at the same time and FOR THE LOVE can we please put our phones away at the same time?
Marriage is not a given. It doesn't build itself and it certainly doesn't fix itself. It requires you to show up every day and be present, be mindful and engaged. Don't compare yourself to others, focus on your own marriage - not someone else's.
GETTING BACK THE SPARK
Can you get it back once it's gone? And did it really go out or did it just dim a little? A lot? Do you even want it back? Are you just going through the motions?
Sometimes s*** happens. It can't be 24/7 rainbows and unicorns - if you say it can well then it's unlikely you're in my circle of friends.
Did you wake up one day and realize that you somehow let the kids, work, bills, friends jump to the front of the line in front of your husband - your line. Who controls the order of this line? YOU.
When did the spark go out? After kids? When you were so physically tired that the last thing you wanted to do was "get busy" with your husband? When you started that new job? The one that took everything out of you mentally that the last thing you felt like doing was coming home and conversing with your husband?
When you got older or had kids and your body changed? Did you stop feeling attractive? Did you worry that he would no longer be happy with you? I would imagine that if you asked him he would say that the time you look most beautiful is when you're being a Mother.
I would imagine that yes, what initially attracted him to you was physical, but now, after all these years it is about so much more. I would imagine that you are way harder on yourself than he is.
Your marriage is the foundation for your family, if it isn't nurtured the concrete will start to crack and eventually crumble, taking prisoners with it.
You always have two options - fix it or let it go.
Fixing it will require work, on both sides but of course you can do it! It's often the little things I mentioned above that will slowly get it back on track, day by day it will start to rejuvenate itself.
SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
To all my single ladies out there - there is hope! I promise you your time is coming, be patient, don't rush it and please don't settle! Be open to the possibility, be aware of who you're surrounding yourself with and be open to feeling that spark!
To the ladies who are trying to juggle it all, including a great marriage...
I don't take my marriage for granted, ever. I know how lucky I am to have the husband that I do. And although it can feel like it, it's not magic, it's not without fault and bumps in the road and it certainly didn't get to where it is without effort.
If there was one word to describe what both men AND women want to feel in a relationship it would be APPRECIATED. It validates us as people and as partners.
You appreciated him when you met him right? You probably appreciated every single thing about him? You appreciate him every time he does something to keep the spark alive right? And you better be appreciating him if he's trying to do things to get the spark back! Then TELL HIM - men want to feel appreciated, valued and needed. It gives them a feeling like nothing money could ever buy.
So with all your choices for Valentine's Day Cards, maybe try writing your own this year? From the heart, make it personal, make it cheesy, make him feel amazing.
Lose the old t-shirt and track pants you've been wearing to bed and go get yourself some fancy pajamas - that would be enough of a Valentine's gift for most men, seeing that YOU put in the effort for them.
I would write more but I need to take my own advice and get myself to the mall for some "fancy" pajamas - now I just need to figure out a way not to fall asleep before 10pm.
Happy Love Day everyone!