I recently saw a blog about “the middle stage” of love on the social media feed of a couple I know. The article was about appreciating your relationship during the stage past diapers and plodding through the middle childhood years and beyond. The wife posted about the piece and the husband had the chutzpah to publicly declare his love for his spouse, despite the expected “get a room” comments from others on the stream.
What is so great about the post is the acknowledgement that real love is not all roses all the time. Real love has highs and lows, miraculous moments, unexpected disappointments, and plenty of in between. Real love for real relationships is about growing up and learning to say, I can allow my partner to be human because, Lord knows I am! It doesn’t mean having low expectations, but it does mean giving up unrealistic expectations such as for example, that your spouse is going to magically do everything you want.
Real Tasks For Real Love
Push & Pull
It may surprise you to know that your partner disagreeing with you is not tantamount to a betrayal. Disagreements are a part of a healthy relationship. Disagreements can even bring fresh energy into the marriage. As long as you work things out in civil fashion, differences can remind the two of you that you are separate individuals, entitled to your own opinions. A little push and pull means everyone is still awake and spunky in the relationship. And while, “yes, dear,” is nice to hear now and then, as a steady diet – bor-ring! Some push and pull will remind you that you haven’t merged into an amorphous blob as a couple. It will give you that little zing that keeps things interesting.
United, Not Divided
Real love means sticking together when life gets tough. When things feel overwhelming and the only other adult standing there is your partner, it’s easy to think your woes are your partner’s fault. But sometimes life is hard. If instead you can join forces, it sure can feel good to have someone on your team when life is pummeling you. After a tough day at work, going home to a good hug is a lot nicer than going home to an empty house. Plus, not blaming each other will inspire so much more cooperation and teamwork.
Attend To The Good Stuff
Psychologist, Rick Hanson says humans have a negativity bias. This is an adaptive tendency because if we ignore something that could be potentially dangerous, we are at risk of harm. If we ignore something positive, there is no actual threat, just a missed chance for joy. For example, if we simply enjoy the colorful fall leaves and ignore the snake shaped stick on the ground, it might actually turn out to be a snake! While lifesaving it may be, the negativity bias can play havoc in relationships. If you had a beautiful day with your sweetheart where they brought you flowers, made you dinner, gave you a foot massage, but forgot to pick up your dry cleaning, guess what you might be obsessing on? Remembering to relish and delight in the positives that fill your relationship is a real task for real love.
In fact, let’s go over that again. Like the charming couple getting mushy on Facebook, drink in all that is good and tell each other how much you like it. Sing it from the rooftops! Well, maybe not, but most people are starving to be appreciated. Whether it’s the way he brings you your morning tea, or how she waits without complaint while you’re browsing endlessly in the bookstore, if you notice these little things that your partner does, you’ll see how much there is to appreciate. This is real love for real life.
You know how every marriage therapist says you should have date night? Yep, do it if you possibly can. Or a date cup of coffee. Or date Cheerios after the kids have gone to bed. Okay, you don’t have to have food or beverages. Just try to find some time where you can remember that you are sweethearts.
Sustaining real love for real relationships is worth it. The other kind exists only in the movies.