How Our Marriage Begins:
What is it that you enjoy most about a wedding? Is it the music, or the ceremony, or perhaps the reception food? (That’s one of my favorite parts!)
For many, it is watching the beautiful bride walk down the aisle. Sometimes smiling, sometimes a bit embarrassed at the attention, sometimes in tears from joy and happiness. The day that she and her groom-to-be have been anticipating for months is finally here.
I tend not to gaze at the bride, though. I enjoy most seeing the changing expression of the groom from nervousness, to total amazement as the love of his life, his soul-mate, walks toward him.
Often the entire ceremony is a blur to the couple. They are almost overwhelmed by the emotions of the moment.
But every bride and groom experiences passion, amazement, gratefulness, and even awe about their future. All of the negative stories they have heard about marriage will not happen to them. They cannot imagine how they can feel more in love than they do at that moment.
When Does the Honeymoon Begin to Fade?
No one can physically, mentally, or emotionally maintain this intensity. At some point the excitement – the “newness” — begins to wear-off.
Life takes over. Some couples can remember an event or a conversation when the relationship began to change. For some, it slowly evolves unnoticed.
Often careers, or kids, or in-law relationships begin to interfere with the joy that they felt that first several weeks or months.
We Mistake Euphoria for Love
The passion begins to fade, the physical attraction is not as intense, and they begin to wonder if they are no longer in love.
Feelings change with circumstances, fatigue, and stress. Each spouse has a choice: Either pursue a deeper, more meaningful, and more intimate relationship . . . or constantly try to recapture the moments of their early passion.
We Focus on Only One (or Two) Areas of Intimacy
The most obvious area that many couples experience during their honeymoon period is physical intimacy. Science and studies have shown that something significant happens in our brain that feels wonderful – and that we can mistake as the pinnacle of love.
But a true, life-time love relationship has two more significant areas:
Many women long for emotional Intimacy with their husbands. Most husbands, however, have difficulty understanding what this means to their wife. After all, men begin to learn at an early age not trust t0 others enough to be vulnerable and share their emotions. And now they are married to a wife that desperately needs this from them!
God created us as spiritual creations. This is one key difference between humans and the animal kingdom. We are created in God’s image — and along with this is a need to have spiritual intimacy with one another. One of the simplest ways of experiencing spiritual intimacy is by praying together. But often this seems dangerous to even attempt. When couples pray together, they become vulnerable in ways that seem uncertain or even frightening at first. But joining in prayer adds a new and deeper dimension to the relationship.
Like a stool with three legs, the marriage relationship needs all three areas for a couple to experience the kind of intimacy that God created them to enjoy as a couple.
We have Changed Perspectives “Now that We are Married.”
Many couples do not realize that they have different impressions of what marriage looks like and how it should work. Some of these differences may become evident during the engagement period, but at that time, these differences seem mundane and trite compared to their emotions of love. “It doesn’t matter.”
Just as a light switch illuminates a room, the new relationship begins to reveal unknown or unstated understandings of what being a wife or a husband looks like. And this can produce at first irritation, anger, and resentment if these are not identified. They need to be addressed in a way that draws the couple together instead of pushing them apart.
We Expect Our Spouse to Meet All Our Needs
Often during the dating and engagement period, the couple is consumed with “feeling in love.” They truly believe that their “soul mate” is not only meeting all of their needs and longings now, but will do so forever.
But once married, unfilled needs and longings begin to reveal themselves. Sometimes the spouse is unaware of these needs, does not understand them, does not have the ability to meet these needs, or (at worst) does not seem to care.
Only God can supply many of these desires. He may allow the spouse to meet them to some degree, but not completely. And the pressure to meet all of each other’s needs can become so overwhelming, that it creates resentment and anger and – over time – bitterness.
We Did Not have Marriage Modeled for Us
One of the most heartbreaking gaps in many marriages today is a lack of a model. Over time, the couple begins to dread a relationship that will, at best, simply become something to endure for the next 30 years or so. Many couples do not know someone married for decades that they admire and can seek out for advice and mentoring.
The idea that they might again experience love and joy seems unattainable – something they should not even hope for.
So What Options Are Out There?
Most couples – whether they have been married for 2 months or 40 years – have developed certain patterns based on what seems might help the relationship. And when the patterns are not successful, they feel that they have no other options. Often one spouse becomes more intense as they explain what the other spouse should change. And the other spouse then shuts down down because everything they do or say seems to make things worse. Neither spouse has any idea of what else to do.
Seek out an older (more seasoned) couple who have been married for 20+ years and find out why their marriage seems to work.
Or seek out a pastor or counselor to help you identify the pattern that isn’t working that pushes the two of you apart. Chances are good that your hearts are still longing for each other. It’s just that your behavior is hiding the love that you still share.