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

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  1. #1
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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).
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  2. #2
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    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.
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  3. #3
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    RitaRose you give me hope Thanks you.

    Quote Originally Posted by RitaRose View Post
    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.
    You know all those things you wanted to do: You should go do them.

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  4. #4
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    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.
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  5. #5
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    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.

  6. #6
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    Quote 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.
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  7. #7
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    Quote 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!

  8. #8
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    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.

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  9. #9
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    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.

  10. #10
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    Thank you everyone for your kind words and heartfelt advice. More please!

    Quote 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?
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