Anyone in a relationship or who plans on being in one needs to know how to keep love alive. Love and lust are very different — especially when it comes to a marriage. Keeping the love alive is relatively easy, but maintaining the passion for one another is a different ball game entirely.
Follow these 8 principles in creating a spontaneously loving home.
1. Know that marriage isn’t a bed of roses
Almost all relationships have difficulties. Honeymoons end, love sounds or begins to look pretty disgusting. Accepting the idea that marriage is not a Disney happily-ever-after movie, will help open the door to a life that can be richly rewarding.
Real life, after all, can’t compete with the Disney true-love, soul-mate fantasy.
2. Weather the storms, endure the droughts
You have to be devoted to marriage itself, as an institution; perhaps as much as to the person you’re married to. That way, in those trying times, there will be some holding power. A storm isn’t a failure! It’s just a storm. Sometimes all you need to do is let it pass.
3. Preventive care
The best medicine in marriage is prevention. So the best way to keep the flame of love from dying is to keep it alive. Don’t let things simmer on low for too long. Also, don’t get lazy and start throwing your underwear in the corner of the room or leave hair in the sink. Don’t let yourself take each other for granted.
4. Keep the romance alive
Date night. Just do it. We’ve had times when date nights were regular and we’ve had periods when date night kept getting shoved off to the eternal “next time.” The difference has been stark. Hug and hold hands, open doors, leave notes for each other and give back rubs and shoulder massages. Treat each other as though you were deeply in love, and you’ll likely remain deeply in love.
5. Don’t let little things slide
Have you allowed “please” and “thank you” to drop from your conversations with each other? Or have you stopped holding the door for her? Have you stopped running to give him a hug when he comes home? When was the last time you told your spouse you loved and appreciated him/her? When was the last time you played a board game or had a tickle fight or took a walk around the block hand in hand? Don’t let the little things slide or you’ll likely have a bigger mess to clean up later.
6. Feelings matter
Listen to her feelings. They may not make sense to you. Listen anyway. They may seem irrational and maddening. Listen anyway. Feelings make sense to the person feeling them (usually). Validating those feelings is a sign of respect. And a necessary component of sustained love is respect.
7. Prioritize your spouse
If you put your spouse at the end of every list, your marriage will be at the end of the list too. You can’t see your spouse as an extension of yourself. You are different people with different needs and personalities. Treat each other as such.
8. Learn your spouse’s language
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, we all have one of five primary love languages.
- Acts of Service: if what gets your heart going is your partner offering to pick the kids from school or go buy stuff from the grocery store, then acts of service is your love language.
- Words of Affirmation: when you like your partner to always tell you how they love and appreciate you or how special you are, then this is your love language.
- Affection: if you love any form of hugs, kisses, holding hands, or any form of intimacy whatsoever, then affection is definitely your love language
- Quality Time: as long as you love to spend quality time with your partner either by going on dates, vacations or just spending the weekend at home in each other’s company, then this is your love language.
- Gifts: if you love gifts no matter how little because they make you feel appreciated, then this is your love language.
You can have more than one love language but forcing your partner into your particular preferred mode of communication is a losing proposition. But learning their language will better prepare you to be able to send messages of love loud and clear.
Staying in marriage is by no means an easy feat but thankfully, we have seen lots of couples who grow old together. This means if they can do it, so can you. But you should have it in mind that marriage is not child’s play. You will go through a lot but you definitely won’t be alone. It’s all about endurance and prevention.
The romance and little things you did that attracted both of you at first should be kept alive at all times even after you have kids. Whether or not it makes sense, feelings matter. Your spouse must be number 1 at all times and lastly, learn your spouse’s language.