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  • question for those of you long married (and still happy)

    Since this place attracts freethinkers I'm expecting to get both practical and oddball advice, but what the hell - something might stick.

    The situation:
    Husband and I have been married ten years and we have a nearly five-year-old. We get on, rub along, tolerate each other well. There are no blazing rows, but times are tough and we are run ragged by various unfortunate life events (long-term unemployment = him, unsatisfactory employment = me; homesickness = me [I'm an expat]; the joys of parenting a very challenging and bright little boy [both of us]). We love each other, there is care and affection, but we are no longer in love. I find it nigh on impossible to manufacture any kind of spark between us - not sex (that's not the problem, per se), but passion. I find it amazingly easy to project desire, passion and even that magical in-love feeling on to others, but not my poor, long-suffering husband.

    The question:
    How in a long-term relationship does one fall back in love once that feeling has gone, gone, gone?

    The postscripts/constraints
    We're broke. We're knackered. We have maybe two hours each week night and three or four at the weekend. Babysitting is a very scarce commodity. We are very different people with different interests, aesthetics and social needs (we share a similar ethical outlook and have similar life goals).
    I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

  • #2
    Okay, I don't count as "long married", but I do have 2 failed marriages (seriously awful stuff where I had to leave), oneof which lasted 13 years, and I'm in an incredibly happy relationship now - coming up on 3 years together. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I can pretty much guarantee we'll be together until one of us dies.

    One thing I can point to as being drastically different in this relationship that was missing from the other relationships is how much we appreciate each other. We are constantly doing things for each other (and I don't mean buying things) and then we make sure we earnestly express our appreciation for those things, no matter how small.

    I know it doens't sound like a big deal, but it makes a huge difference. Make sure your husband knows you've got his back no matter what, and do little things that he'll notice make his life a little better. It's contagious in a good relationship.

    For instance, The Boyfriend is really bugged when the trash in the kitchen starts to get a little... tall. And he does seem to be the only one that ever empties it, so I took the trash out first thing this morning before he woke up. He worked late last night, so I made sure I left some deviled eggs in the fridge for him. I bring the paper in every morning so it's there when he gets up and doean't have to go out in the cold. Those are small things, but things he really appreciates.

    He, on the other hand, washes my car without me ever asking, takes care of any travel plans (he's better at them) and volunteers to visit my mom with me. That just makes me love him even more, and I let him know that. He still opens car doors for me, and I still thank him every time. It just works.

    I sent him an email once, "50 Reasons Why I Love You", and he said it took everything he had to keep from forwarding it to everyone he knew. I also wrote a fairy tale version of how we met, and he still has it in the drawer next to the bed years later. It makes him feel special, and I think that's one of the most important factors in keeping a love affair strong.
    Durp.

    Comment


    • #3
      Wow, that's so sweet, RitaRose.

      You ask a good question, badgergirl and I look forward to the answers. I'd give you some if I had any, but I don't.
      Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

      Comment


      • #4
        Married for 23 years this Feb and we have a 50 year contract. After that we go week to week

        This allows for those times you speak of that are just crap , when you don't really like on another. But knowing that we are in it for the long haul is the magic as we just keep on keeping on.

        Love changes over time and there are swings and roundabouts in every relationship not just romantic ones.

        Keep respecting each other and the fact that you are asking this questions shows that you are invested in your relationship.
        link to my journal http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread97129.html

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        • #5
          I've been married for 12 years, together for 15. Have 2 kids which we both do a good job raising. We get along very well rarely ever fight but in spite of all this we are still divorcing (not my idea).
          I tried all the things listed by RitaRose and quite frankly did the lions share of household upkeep. We went through many tough challenges together but sometimes you just cant change the way someone feels, or yourself for that matter.

          One thing i did do which for a bit worked out well for a bit was in inhouse date night. We did not have alot of available babysitting either. I would make a special dinner which we would eat after the kids went to bed, spend sometime talking and laying by the fireplace and afterwards some... well you know. I noticed it started to go downhill when after dinner instead of fire and stuff it was the couch and facebook.

          Not sure if this is good advice or scary story but hopefully your situation will change and things will turn around for you.
          I find your lack of bacon disturbing.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jacmac View Post
            Married for 23 years this Feb and we have a 50 year contract. After that we go week to week
            That is the cutest thing ever!

            We've been married 25yrs and some of those years have been crap. Sometimes more than one year in a row. Life can be hard on a relationship, but jacmac is right, being committed to the long haul is magic. It gives you the motivation to get better and better at it, even when it feels like you're going nowhere. After 25 yrs, we are back to being like newlyweds, only 1000x better.

            Looking back, I think it can be hard to tell whether you're really not "in love" anymore or whether life has just sucked the life out of you. It's hard to be excited about anything when you're emotionally exhausted. Couples often turn on each other when outside pressures push them to their breaking point. I think that's only human. So if you two can ride this out, what's on the other side will be sweeter than you can imagine. I am *so* grateful that our lives and finances were so intertwined that divorce always seemed like the bigger PITA.
            50yo, 5'3"
            SW-195
            CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
            GW- Goals are no longer weight-related

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            • #7
              Badgergirl - life is fraught with difficulties, and in this time of disposables - its great that you are in it for the long haul. DH and I have been married just over 28 years, and by gum we have done it hard. We have worked long huge hours on the farm, struggling with little money. Have had 5 premmies, 2 of which died, we have endured a daughter with cancer, DH nearly died from an horrendous illness.......yadda yadda ya. I could go on about all the hardships, the times I have left, and then crawled back to the security, the ups the downs.........but I won't because every single one of us has a story to tell. I absolutley hate the way our world has become so disposable....people change their clothes with the fashions........pregnant by mistake, that can be dealt with, married divorced.
              I am not knocking all the people who have done these things, because sometimes there is more to it, but its too easy
              Marriage, partnerships, parenting is all hard HARD work, and we have to work at it constantly. Yes I am in this for the long haul, but right now we are on automatic pilot. We so need to put some fun back into out marriage - not sure how but we will start with a date night once a month.
              When our children were little we lived remotely, with no family support, so I got a few mums together to share children. This worked really well. We kept a rough count of hours used/owed, and it just mean't that we could have the odd night out, without paying a babysitter.
              The other thing that we have done throughout our marriage (because of our remoteness), is make our own fun. We would have a pot luck party, or a rugby game night, dress up party, or fish and chip/movie night. Everyone would bring the whanau and a shared tea. It mean't that we could all relax together.
              One other thing that I think is fundamentally important - is that each of you have your own interests that you are allowed to pursue and enjoy, without badgering or nagging from the other. YOu have got to get out and about, to be able to appreciate what you have. It doesn't have to cost money either, gardening, walking, running, swiming in the river....
              anyway good luck with the whoosh !
              G
              "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

              ...small steps....

              Comment


              • #8
                Make sure there is no out, no one is allowed to yell divorce, or "I'm leaving". Never invite a third person into your marriage (affair, advice, parent, "friend",).

                The only one who can work on your marriage is you. You can only fix you, not him. Start with yourself. If you don't "feel" passion, then find it, or just make it up. Fantasize about him and only him. Do the little things. Don't dump on him. Don't launch into an emotional tirade at him. Build him up. Talk him up to all your friends, to the point where they think he is walking on water!

                Yep, that's you doing ALL the work. You are doing all the work, because you are the one with the issue. Whether you are "in love" or "IN LOVE" is up to you.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thank you everyone for your kind words and heartfelt advice. More please!

                  Originally posted by Blacksmith View Post
                  I've been married for 12 years, together for 15. Have 2 kids which we both do a good job raising. We get along very well rarely ever fight but in spite of all this we are still divorcing (not my idea).
                  I tried all the things listed by RitaRose and quite frankly did the lions share of household upkeep. We went through many tough challenges together but sometimes you just cant change the way someone feels, or yourself for that matter.

                  One thing i did do which for a bit worked out well for a bit was in inhouse date night. We did not have alot of available babysitting either. I would make a special dinner which we would eat after the kids went to bed, spend sometime talking and laying by the fireplace and afterwards some... well you know. I noticed it started to go downhill when after dinner instead of fire and stuff it was the couch and facebook.

                  Not sure if this is good advice or scary story but hopefully your situation will change and things will turn around for you.
                  This is pretty much where we're at, minus the divorce bit (and I work while he does the house stuff - neither of us playing to our strengths, there). So often it feels as though we only relate to each other in a functional way - caring, loving, even, but functional. There's no sense of romance, anticipation or excitement between us. There's no buzz. Am I mad to think that this should/can be part of a long-term marriage? And I do want a long-term marriage, but not an unsuccessful one. I'd rather quit now than spend the next ten years fighting the inevitable. However, part of me thinks that to give up now (and this is not the first rough patch or even the roughest rough patch we have been through and come out of) would be a profound mistake.

                  We do love each other. We are not in love. How do we fall back in love with each other? Do we have to stare into each other's eyes and listen to each other for 30 minutes?
                  I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LauraSB View Post
                    That is the cutest thing ever!

                    We've been married 25yrs and some of those years have been crap. Sometimes more than one year in a row. Life can be hard on a relationship, but jacmac is right, being committed to the long haul is magic. It gives you the motivation to get better and better at it, even when it feels like you're going nowhere. After 25 yrs, we are back to being like newlyweds, only 1000x better.

                    Looking back, I think it can be hard to tell whether you're really not "in love" anymore or whether life has just sucked the life out of you. It's hard to be excited about anything when you're emotionally exhausted. Couples often turn on each other when outside pressures push them to their breaking point. I think that's only human. So if you two can ride this out, what's on the other side will be sweeter than you can imagine. I am *so* grateful that our lives and finances were so intertwined that divorce always seemed like the bigger PITA.

                    This. Exactly.

                    Hubby and I have also been together for 25 years, raised 3 children, and he was military special ops--so his job was always #1 priority--or so it seemed at times.

                    I want to stress what Laura wrote: I think it can be hard to tell whether you're really not "in love" anymore or whether life has just sucked the life out of you. It's hard to be excited about anything when you're emotionally exhausted.

                    If you want romance, excitement, anticipation, you have to make them possible. That's MUCH harder to do when you physically and emotionally exhausted. I don't know if it's possible to recreate that first love/lust/blissfully staring into each other's eyes type feeling. IMO, though, the sense of security and depth of commitment you feel after enduring the crap times more than makes up for not having that breathless emotion.

                    With us, sometimes it was just a matter of putting up with the crap. We're both stubborn about making our relationship last, so there's no way we would have ever considered divorce. And Laura is correct: ride it out because what's on the other side is sweeter than you can imagine!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                      So often it feels as though we only relate to each other in a functional way - caring, loving, even, but functional. There's no sense of romance, anticipation or excitement between us. There's no buzz. Am I mad to think that this should/can be part of a long-term marriage?
                      I do think many people are disappointed when marriage after a couple of decades and a bunch of kids is different from marriage when you're 20 years old and fresh from your honeymoon with no babies. It's going to change, just like a friendship changes. That's all normal. It has highs and lows as well. Seeing him all dressed up in a suit and freshly shaved is going to stir up feelings that just aren't there when he's wearing the shirt with the hole in the armpit and scratching his crotch. That's life.

                      I think you have to make your own excitement about the relationship and both remind yourself of what you found so magnetic in the first place. It's the little moments of intimacy and the shared history that can keep you moving through the low points. At the same time, I don't think expecting it to be full of wonder and awe, even most of the time, is realistic.
                      Durp.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                        So often it feels as though we only relate to each other in a functional way - caring, loving, even, but functional. There's no sense of romance, anticipation or excitement between us. There's no buzz. Am I mad to think that this should/can be part of a long-term marriage? And I do want a long-term marriage, but not an unsuccessful one. I'd rather quit now than spend the next ten years fighting the inevitable. However, part of me thinks that to give up now (and this is not the first rough patch or even the roughest rough patch we have been through and come out of) would be a profound mistake.

                        We do love each other. We are not in love. How do we fall back in love with each other? Do we have to stare into each other's eyes and listen to each other for 30 minutes?
                        I went through a similar experience...twice. One relationship lasted 7 years, the other was 8 years. I deeply loved both of them, but after a while I realized that I wasn't IN love. There is a huge difference. I wish I hadn't wasted so much time in both of those relationships and had the courage, to leave sooner but when you're living with someone you love, and you're very compatible and function well, it is really, really hard to figure out which is the right thing to do. Leave and maybe never find something as good, or stay and maybe slowly waste your life until you're filled with a lifetime of regret. (I guess 15 wasted years is better than a lifetime, but it still feels pretty epic, especially now that I am with my soulmate and I realize what I was missing all those years.)

                        My situation is/was different from yours, if for no other reason than I don't have kids, which changes things big time. But having slowly suffocated in those relationships for so many years, I'm committed to not letting it happen again. As time has passed, of course feelings have evolved, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing, if they evolve in a good way.

                        I agree with RitaRose that appreciation is a huge factor. I make it a point to tell him everyday about something he's done that I appreciate, even if it's just thanking him for putting away the dry dishes (which is usually his job anyway, and half the time not done very well either). A quick thank-you goes a long way toward softening my heart when I'm cranky, and I've noticed that the more I thank him for doing annoying tasks, the more he thanks me. Also, when I used to leave for work at the crack of dawn while he was still sleeping, I always left a post-it note on the kitchen counter or the bathroom mirror with some silly drawing or a message about being excited to see him later that evening.

                        One thing that we've been doing to keep our excitement alive is periodically spending some time apart. One of us spends a week or two visiting friends/family and sleeping away. By the end of the trip, we are back to being insanely excited to see each other again, just like in the first weeks. It's amazing how much more we value and appreciate what we don't have, so I am a big proponent of taking short breaks, when possible. (I realize that with a young child this is probably not so possible).

                        I wish I had something more helpful to add... this is an issue that almost everyone is dealing with, so you're not alone.
                        Last edited by BestBetter; 12-06-2012, 09:59 PM.

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                        • #13
                          I can't add anything. I just wanted to say that I admire the people who stuck it out and are truly happy.

                          I've had a few relationships that lasted more than seven years, but somehow after that it just fizzles for me. I don't have children, so that glue is missing, if it is glue (I can't know, having not had them). I'm very accepting of people and their differences, and that includes the men with which I've been involved, but sadly, I can't say the same about them. Eventually they all tried to change me in some way. I'm not docile, I have a big mouth (though I can surely reign it in for professional functions), and I like a lot of alone time. In the end, the alone time issue seems to destroy the relationships. I feel very put upon if someone tries to take that time away from me. I have however, had a 14 year relationship with a cat. He was the perfect mate, except he was fixed.
                          "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                          B*tch-lite

                          Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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                          • #14
                            We are in a similar place, with a couple of exceptions: no homesickness, happy in our work balance. But, our work keeps us very busy, and we also have a bright and busy little one. With no family around to help out (babysit), it's hard to "make that connection."

                            That being said, we make an effort to spend time talking about things of interest to us on a regular basis that are happy topics, rather than, things that we are upset or dissatisfied about. Things like "what are you thinking about/reading recently?" or "what sorts of things to you want to do in the next 6 months that you're relaly looking forward to?"

                            In a way, I thought abuot how it was when we were first dating. What did we talk about? We talked about a lot of things -- good and bad -- and even if we had no knowledge about how to achieve our dreams, but it was great to share them nonetheless. And, what was really important came to the fore (and many of them we have achieved, and we still have many that we want to achieve).

                            It's not fancy. It's not exciting going out. It's in our living room, littered with legos. It's in the kitchen, where there are dirty dishes piled up (and sometimes clean ones piled up too that haven't been put away). It's boring and mundane. But we are still connecting.

                            Also, I did a lot of gratitude work. You know, without my husband, it wouldn't be possible for me to do a lot of things. He makes my life seamless in a lot of ways -- makes it easy for me to do a lot of things by taking on a lot on my behalf. Without him, a lot would be lost. And that certainly engenders a lot of love for someone.

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                            • #15
                              We are coming to our 14th anniversary, and our daughter has just turned 6 yo. We had unemployment, living on one income, selling a house for 2+ years, etc, and a lot of never really seeing each other with the parental obligations. I found that as our daughter matures, and our income improves (my husband finally got a steady job), things are looking up. I am glad we just downplayed 'couples' portion of it for a while. Now, that we can afford it we did our very first date when we paid for a babysitter, and every time our kiddo has a social event (b-day parties are a god-send!) we try to spend time together. My mother lives far away, but she comes every few months and practically pushes us out of the house to do things together. Last summer our kiddo stayed with her for 3 weeks, and we had a slow drive home for 3 whole days and then lived as a childless couple for a couple of weeks!!! WOW!

                              I also remind myself that the older our kiddo grows, the more 'on her own' life is going happen to her, and the more 'on our own' life is gonna happen to us. So, I sit back, relax, and read Nancy Drew while my hubby washes the dishes. Or enjoy their music practice together as I cook. There is comfort in that. I feel content, and I try to capture that feeling, I think I have read somewhere that it is under-appreciated in this crazy world of today, and I think it's true. There is so many influences that breed dissatisfaction.

                              So, we kept the fire low, but it's still there, and we blow it up every time we have a chance. And if we do not, we try to be calm about it and not worry too too much. I think it's better to be content than miserable.
                              Last edited by Leida; 12-07-2012, 06:37 AM.
                              My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
                              When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

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