Marriage takes a toll on a relationship. That statement seems ridiculous but everyone knows it’s true. The monotony of finances, chores, and general adulthood erodes the spontaneity and sexiness that once defined you as a couple.
As the years wear on the beautiful sculpture of your marriage is chiseled to raw and rough stone. Once the most basic elements are exposed it’s time to make a decision. Do you settle with the rough and unfinished stone or do you put in the work to polish this relationship into something new, beautiful, and everlasting?
My decision was to polish. After 10 years of marriage, three kids, a farm, and careers we were rough. It was time to put in the effort to redefine and rediscover our relationship.
Our story is different than most but completely relatable. We met when we were 16 years old in junior year English class. He was the mysterious, foreign new kid and I was an anxious misfit stuck in a small town. From the moment I laid eyes on him, I wanted to know him. He was shockingly handsome, witty, and intelligent. Even at 16 years old he checked all the boxes. He really put the Hanson brothers to shame.
Our high school love story progressed into college. College brought its own issues, though. Growing from adolescence to adulthood is not a smooth transition. Many times it felt as if we were growing apart. There was more than one moment when we almost gave in to the pressure and gave up. But we chose one another. We chose us.
College wasn’t even over and we were married. Marriage brought homes, kids, and plenty of real-life adult decisions. We were a team, but we were not seamless. With each decision or conflict it felt as if part of us was chiseled away. It was difficult to watch something that I had known so intimately deteriorate. I felt powerless.
I would catch myself looking at him, studying him. Doing my best to decipher who he had become while we were too busy building our life for me to really take notice. He was no longer the rebel 16-year-old, hard-partying 21-year-old, or marriage-focused newlywed. He had retained the best parts of his past while adapting to his present.
My husband had grown into a strong man, loving daddy, and supportive partner. I had been too distracted by our life to truly appreciate his maturity. It was time to reignite our friendship and our romance.
Start the Effort
The polishing begins with tough conversations. Admitting frustrations, identifying flaws, and reevaluating expectations. Clearly, this is a two-sided conversation and it takes work for these conversations to be productive instead of destructive. At times it might feel like you are taking more steps backward than forwards.
Put in the Effort
After you have spent time identifying areas of your relationship that could use the extra polishing, do it. Spend time together, plan dates (Netflix and chill totally counts), talk to one another about something other than the usual, sit close, hold hands, cuddle. Start doing the sweet little gestures that were an important part of the earliest stages of your relationship. In other words, go ahead and allow yourself to be obnoxiously lovey-dovey.
Keep up the Effort
It is easy to fall back into the habits that led you to lose touch in the first place. Continuing to be aware of how the daily stresses erode your relationship allows you to actively protect it from all the elements of life.
Polishing our relationship was a joint effort. It took time for us to really communicate and get to know one another as intimately as we had before the stress of life eroded what we had. Our relationship is not the same as it was when we were younger, but this relationship is strong and worth all the effort.