[QUOTE=badgergirl;1026084]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?[/QUOTE]
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.
[QUOTE=badgergirl;1026084]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? [URL="http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/feb/12/students.news"]Do we have to stare into each other's eyes and listen to each other for 30 minutes[/URL]?[/QUOTE]
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.
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. :)
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.
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.
[QUOTE=badgergirl;1026084]. 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. [/QUOTE]
i think there's an opportunity here. you seemed to have named the problem, so you know what to work on. i agree with a few of the others that you're probably too beat up by all the things you're struggling with to wait around for that buzz to come back, so you've got to figure something out to grab onto it. i think the best option is going to come from within you and your husband. maybe it's a new (free) hobby the two of you take up together. maybe it's a contest of some sort. something small; you don't need grand gestures, you only need something that is going to get a little momentum building.
my wife and i have been married 3 years, but together for 10, no kids, but a few struggles here and there. here are a few things i would try in this situation, that could work specifically for us:
-learn another language together
-leave notes hidden for the other person to hide with inside jokes written on them
-teach each other your individual hobbies (she teaches me to knit, i teach her to cook)
I have been with my hubby for 20 years and passion left the barn a long time ago. It's fun having crushes and ogling other men. Let's just say we both have an eye for the opposite sex, so I don't knock his pics of hippie girls and he leaves my muscular cowboy calendar alone.
It's not easy and I struggle with it. I do think about leaving, but I see other men and figure that flame is going to burn out soon enough anyway. So I try and value what I have. I kind of compare... :) My husband is handsome, fun, gives me space and takes me to the beach. I could be stuck with the guy that got fat, or the workaholic, or the hoverer.
Oh, by the way..... the unexpected works wonders. I got a piece of lingerie and threw it on with a pair of heels. Made hubby want to devour me. Sometimes cheesey stuff like that works, it makes you feel sexy, makes him feel sexy and sparks some fresh passion really quickly. The traditional "roles" that go by the wayside as we get used to each other can really bring a spark back. Lingerie night ended up yielding flowers which ended up making more great sex and more good feelings of love.
Also..... listening to the dating stories of singles will make you love your husband. Like my single friends rarely go on dates with the handsome, interesting guy with a great job that returns their calls etc. Everytime I get angry at hubby's snoring... I think of my single friends who would kill to have a date with a tall, dark handsome guy with a job that is fun, kind, loves dogs and is fully ok with a big ass and thighs. ;)
My husband and I will have our 16th wedding anniversary May, 2013. Will be together 17 years as of Jan 26, 2013. Marriage is the most difficult thing EVER. It has its ups and downs just like any relationship. There are days you hate him and love him in the same moment and vice versa. Around our 10th anniversary, I pulled the divorce bomb out twice. I just wasn't happy, hadn't felt fulfilled in years and also lost my mother. Seven months later, I lost my job. The last 5 years have been a friggin roller coaster of emotions. I've stayed. Partly because I have a fear of being alone. I've flirted with other men over the past 5 years and recently just stopped. We never really discussed our problems(mostly sex) and when he told me in the last month he was ready to change, I have been working on it as well. For the both of us, this is our first relationship. Life does suck the love for another right out of you and it seems that is your problem. I'm telling my husband everyday that I love and appreciate him. It's all about the little things. You have to be able to laugh at the hard times and be each others rocks. Good luck and God bless.
Not married here, but just hit 4 years (well technically 5, but the parents aren't supposed to know about that part) with my girlfriend. Everything Rita said has held true for us, and to add, I think it's important to have a lot of non-sexual touching, caressing, playing with each others' hair, stimulation of mild erogenous zones like palms, inner forearms, etc. This helps keep the oxytocin flowing way beyond the "honeymoon" period, and studies have shown if promotes longevity and sexual desire in relationships. It's become a sort of daily exercise routine, and I've noticed our attitudes towards each other tend to wane a little when I get lazy about it.