Val isn't playing life coach by sharing some useful ideas gathered over 7 decades of life experience and hundreds of books on human nature.
Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquility of a lovely sunset.
-- Ann Landers
When Magic of Love Is Suddenly Gone
It seems to be such a common human trait to fall out of love and lose interest for the person whom we only recently adored.
What did go wrong?
Well, just like we can develop a physiological tolerance to a certain drug, some of us may start seeing that person as if for the first time, suddenly noticing so many flaws that were not there before.
As I am going for my frequent walks to park or some big shopping malls, I can't but occasionally notice those young couples pushing a stroller with a crying child and obviously having an argument. My first reaction is wishing that I could be able to stick their wedding photo in front of their noses and ask them if that argument was a part of those solemn wedding vows.
But young or old, such couples seem to be far from realization about their true reason for arguing. It's not because he is forgetting to buy milk; not about her deciding to cook that dinner they just had the other day; not about his inviting his single and drinking buddy for dinner.
It's about that initial sweetness of love turning kind of sour. Then, as people usually do, they unconsciously try to rationalize it by finding "faults" in one another, not daring to face the truth about their falling out of love.
Indeed, hearts may go so whimsical, playing these tricks on us and leaving us unprepared for this new situation.
It's so unfortunate that so many couples don't step in their "holy matrimony" with a mature readiness which would mean their being clear about what they wanted out of marriage.
Instead, they seem to be guided in life by a childish impulsiveness that makes them hot-headed for a while, only to allow the feeling to wear off after the sexual saturation that now cries a "new drug".
You may see so many of them with that look of being tired and stuck, merely tolerating that "mess they got themselves into". Nothing of that dating phase of the relationship seems to have survived that sudden shift in heart.
Everything that used to be an exciting prospect of exploring a new life, now as if by some dark spell turned into a routine, including that paramount of the relationship -- sex life.
Indeed, those proverbial "headaches" at bed time happening more often; and that faked yawning sending a signal of "being too tired"; and rationalizing it with "hard day at work"; or is it that "gas in stomach after that late snack" this time?
The sound of those wedding bells becoming more and more distant and replaced by a noisy washing the dishes, or a too loud football game -- something to put some life into an otherwise boring day that neither wants to admit.
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
-- Mignon McLaughlin
Arguments to the Rescue
What most of them never learned is that every relationship needs nurturing, like a house plant -- or it is bound to perish over a time of neglect.
In their heart's inventory of the relationship they only see what the other is doing wrong, so that blaming becomes the name of the game. In that process they are only further alienating themselves from each other with those arguments, as their effort is all based on negativities and how to smoothen them.
Those cynical remarks about marriage that are supposed to be funny during friendly getting together carry the signs of their yet undiscovered truth. Friendships gain their new level, now having become one after another a therapy session, while each is confiding about the other's shortcomings, faults, lack of tact, what not.
Then may come that worse phase -- the one of giving up, surrendering to the "rude awakening" of the realisms of marriage. For, if anybody, those friends and mothers somewhat getting tired of the replays of the same story, may come up with their "wisdom", like:
"We have all been through that. People just change in marriage, and there is nothing that you can do about it. Just get the best of what's available, and learn to tolerate the rest" -- say they until it starts sounding like truth.
Marriages, like careers, need a constant nurturing...the secret of having it all is loving it all.
-- Joyce Brothers
Power of an Imagined Loss
So what's there to be done in such a situation -- if anything at all, that could bring those two doves back together in their hearts?
My approach could be somewhat radical, but if I happened to be their marriage counselor, or a close friend, I would first try to find out what's left of that love. For that purpose I would ask them separately how they would feel about some other person making their partner happy -- in bed and otherwise.
You see, some couples are totally unaware of how much their partner really means to them, until you face them with the prospect of losing him or her. So instead of focusing on their differences and how to bridge them, I would put an emphasis on their left over feeling for each other and what could possibly be recycled there.
A major, tectonic shift may happen in their hearts the very moment as they picture their "getting less attractive lover" in the arms of another person. The feeling may come almost unbearable, reviving much of that love.
That dark imagination could be used as a stepping stone to a new and more mature version of their relationship. From my little intuitive knack in people's heart issues, I know how preaching slogans about life doesn't have nearly as much of a therapeutic punch as cornering people into realization where the only way out is facing their emotional truth.
In this case, the truth would be that they do love each other just the same as they ever did, but just needed to do everything to prevent a breakup which would drive the loved one into the arms of someone else.
You achieve much more by arousing emotions than by lecturing. Like, an unrelated example would be telling your kid that his secret classroom sweetheart will like him more if he is showing off with good marks -- rather than lecture to him how he should study more and play less. Then just watch him fall in love with those textbooks.
Thus, back to our cold-feet lovers, it may steer some real emotional crap in them when they picture their partner in someone else's bed, at someone else's dinner table, laughing and loving that new life.
It's not a lack of love but lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche
Who Says Marriage Means a Guaranteed Non-Stop Fun?
Couples in trouble ought to realize how they have allowed themselves to exaggerate about the sameness in that part of marriage that's an unavoidable routine. Some dry realism may help if they are willing to face the fact that it's not merely the two of them that are creating that feeling of sameness.
Namely, they keep seeing the same image in the mirror each and every day; they go to the same job; and so much of life is bound to be same -- but they somehow manage to "forgive" that part of life's monotony, while only blaming their marriage for not delivering enough fun and excitement.
Furthermore, they didn't disown their parents and siblings with whom they lived for a good part of their life -- so what are they expecting from their spouse -- to be a standup comedian? a guitar player serenading to them under the balcony?
It also helps to realize that the proverbial "greener grass on the other side" would also come to this same point of "turning yellowish" -- if not watered regularly.
"You make me happy...you make me sad..." those are misleading refrains of so many love songs. It's no one's "duty" to make us happy, we have to invest into marriage enough of self-created happiness so that it finds that new outlet in the relationship. By investing our misery into the relationship, we can't blame our partner for that feeling.
Such couples could also benefit from a romantic vacation, so that the ambient itself inspires them to renew that flame which they allowed to size down to that pilot on gas stove. They could continue where they left off at their honeymoon.
Sometimes it doesn't take much of a push in the right direction after which everything falls in its right place -- here meaning falling back in love, more mature this time.
Things don't just change of themselves, and it's naive to expect that the "time" will bring some magic marital adjustments -- after they have become a little more than a habit to each other.
People don't learn to love through many trials and errors -- love is not to become a lifelong experiment, it's either there or it isn't. That's why it's necessary to pick up the pieces of whatever is left of it, and work on them, slightly rearranging them for that new chemistry of love to satisfy a more mature idea of marriage.
I hope that some unsure heart out there, reading all this, might have found an incentive to give their love a new chance.
© 2022 Val Karas