The modern lifestyle can kill intimacy in a marriage, if not well taken care of. Couples find themselves dealing with different schedules and career demands they gradually drift apart. Couples put the needs of everyone else - including those of their careers and their children - before those of their spouses then get shocked when the relationship breaks down.
The husband-wife unit should be the most important relationship in one’s life. Nurture it. Give it the attention it needs to thrive. Don't allow anything or anyone to drive a wedge between the two of you; the extended family, career, friends, hobbies, volunteering or anything else. Once you allow your intimate relationship to crumble, it will negatively affect all other areas of your life.
You reap what you sow. If you constantly put your marriage at the bottom of your 'to-do list' don't expect to reap any fulfillment from it. You will wake up one day to discover that you lost the most important person in your life at a time you need them most; maybe you have just lost a parent or sibling and really need support, you could have lost your job, been involved in a crippling accident, have been diagnosed with a serious illness, have just retired from job...
Many people who contact me seeking solutions to life’s challenges complain that their spouses abandoned them after they lost their jobs, got sick or retired. I always inquire about the state of that relationship before the misfortune. Were you expecting to withdraw from an account that was already in the red because all you ever did was to withdraw from it without depositing anything over the years?
Marriage takes more than love
In most cases, a feeling of love attracts two people and is responsible for the decision to get married. But marriage takes more than love. The determining factor whether a marriage lasts long term or fails is not the initial feeling of love or the reason behind why the couple got married. No. It is the same thing as what determines whether a piece of land will give a good harvest or not; the work that is put in after the decision to begin a life together.
Both partners - not one - must constantly nurture the relationship if it is to be fulfilling to both of them in the long term. When someone claims to have fallen out of love with the partner, it usually means that their needs have been neglected long enough to have made the marriage of no consequence.
The worst tragedy is if the neglected spouse gets a solution to the neglect they suffer in the marriage. Saving that marriage becomes an uphill task and there are no guarantees.
Raising children in a happy home environment ensures that they grow up to become well-adjusted adults. It is also instrumental in keeping them healthy. Happy children are more resistant to illnesses than their unhappy counterparts.
If you want to enjoy your old age surrounded by happy children and grandchildren, start preparing that ground from the moment you get married.
Symptoms of intimacy issues in a relationship
Problems with communication (quarrels and fights resulting from frustrations), disagreements over finances, parenting conflicts, insufficient sex (avoidance of sex) are some telltale signs of a broken down relationship.
The key to rebuilding the marriage is improving the sense of connection, feelings of trust and mutual respect.
Enjoy intimacy in marriage throughout the lifespan
Keep channels of communication always open whether you agree with each other or not. Disagree on matters of principle but never ever make your spouse feel closed out and not heard unless you are ready to risk killing the marriage.
Do not avoid discussions simply because you consider them sensitive. Discuss those issues even if it hurts. Your marriage is far too important for the short-term pain to be worth sacrificing it for.
Avoid doing things behind your spouse's back simply because you feel that they will raise objections. You just might never know when your spouse will reach the breaking point and opt to walk away from the relationship. It might be at a time when you need them most. It might happen at a time when you have just been diagnosed with a very serious illness and you need care and support.
Boundaries protect your marriage
Never allow anyone to come between you and your spouse; your friends, family members, colleagues, friends or anyone else. Some people allow their relatives to disrespect their spouses. This will come back to bite and in a big way. Your parents, siblings, friends, colleagues; cannot take the place of your spouse, the important role they play in your life notwithstanding.
Nurture your relationship
Make a conscious decision that you will nurture your relationship, that you will do what it takes to make it work. Here is a program that can serve as a guideline. Modify it to suit your circumstances.
* Schedule 20 - 30 minutes every single day to nurture your relationship. If you live together, let this time be for catching up with each other and bonding. That way, you will not miss the signs in case something is going wrong. Guard this time jealously even if you have relatives living with you.
Let everyone in the family learn to respect that time, and that includes your children. If you live in different geographical regions as sometimes happens because of work responsibilities, schedule this time to catch up with each other using the methods that work for you, whether telephone call, video call or chat. Purpose to give each other complete freedom to discuss issues, whether they are sensitive or not.
Issues that couples do not agree with don't necessarily disappear simply because the couple avoids talking about them. They simply fester ready to explode in future.
* Schedule some time together every week. This could be in form of shopping together, attending a religious program, attending to household chores together or just taking a walk. Let this weekly rendezvous be at least an hour or two. Bonding really happens when a couple does things together. A wife does not have to do all the chores in the house all on her own as the husband reads the newspapers or watches TV. There is so much the two can do together to facilitate bonding.
* Schedule an annual getaway for just the two of you, even if it is just for a weekend. It is very important that this happens away from the home and from the usual duties and responsibilities.
Happy and fulfilling marriages don't just happen; they take effort.