Belief in marriage is a polarizing topic. So much of what we hear from our culture is that true love exists, but probably not forever. Instead of the norm, couples that reign in 20 or 50 years of marriage are exceptional. So why is that?
We always hear about how separated couples grow apart. It is a common blanket statement for those that choose to break up, consciously "un-couple", or divorce. If the opposite of growing apart is growing together, how can we keep growing together? Can we rely on our closeness and mutual love?
As a new bride, I thought our magnetism toward one another would be enough to keep us growing together through every trial and grace we've experienced. Now I realize that growing together is more of an act of service; a deliberate action to love for the sheer fact that we vowed to do so.
Practically speaking, none of us are perfect. We all have our flaws, our bad habits, and our worldviews from our families of origin. Additionally, we all have moments where we can be hard to love. Under stress, it's possible for one or both people to be distant, self-centered, or relaying an air that we are too busy to give ourselves and our time to the other. Obviously immense overwhelm brings out our flaws, which can launch a cycle of unfulfillment and withholding, to leave both people with little to grasp.
The reason why nearly every great song and story are about true love is a deeper reflection of how we all long for it. If we are in a committed relationship, the very nature of the commitment reveals how much we uphold belief in true love. So, if we believe in true love, and we want Great Love, as my friends The Peppers call it in their podcast, we must choose the action of loving, even when the other is temporarily hard to love.
There are 3 ways to combat growing apart, whether you want to prevent it or resurrect your relationship from it. You may choose reveal your intentions in implementing these ideas clearly, or not. Either way, each of these tactics can reverse the detachment in growing apart so the relationship is strong and unified once more.
MAKE TIME EACH DAY TO SPEAK
For some couples this may seem like a no-brainer. Add in kids, weeknight activities, and work-related travel, and speaking at length every day or night can seem more like a luxury. Kids or not, there should be a "golden hour" carved out of the day, whether after dinner or even first thing in the morning, when a conversation recapping highs, lows, thoughts, calendar activities, ideas, and stories is shared. The power in our relationships comes partly from walking this life as a team. Living the team mentality in marriage is achieved, in part, by being vulnerable, relating ideas, and cheerleading for one another.
MAKE TIME EACH WEEK TO DATE
Nearly all relationships are born through dating. The mystique of dressing for the other, stepping out together, and living the spirit of romance is essential to the bond of a relationship, no matter how many weeks or years of its existence. The same way a new couple looks forward to seeing each other, talking, laughing, and sharing on a date, an experienced couple needs the consistency of spending time with their spouse in the same way. Sure, a weekly dinner out can get costly, but there are thousands of ways to spend a few hours with the one you love. Sometimes, simply calling it a date can make even the simplest arrangement seem extra special.
MAKE TIME EACH MONTH TO EXPLORE
Whether it's a new coffee shop in your neighborhood, a part of a park you haven't seen yet, or an entirely new state (or country), exploring together is, I think, one of the greatest ways to impart renewal and longevity. So much of what we live every day is based in our stories; stories of our adventures, wins, and failures. If our relationship is a love story, then we need to keep adding to it. Exploring something or some place new, as a couple, is a sure way to have fruitful conversations, warm memories, and mutual admiration that will catalyze unified growth.