I recall trying to help my children with their algebra homework. The thing is, when I was in school, I was a straight A student; National Honor Society and all. But then, 20-something years later, I struggled to give them the help they needed. Because I didn't practice my math skills after school, I forgot a lot of them. However, working with them over and over again, a lot of it came back to me. It just took a little work and a little remembering to relearn it all.
They say the same thing happens with exercise. Your muscles remember the most fit state they were ever in and even if you lapse in your fitness regime, once you begin again, your body relearns how to be fit and takes much less time to do so because it was once there.
I believe that love behaves the same way. We so often hear of couples who "grow apart." They have lost that knowledge and tone their marriage once had. But what if it could be relearned like algebra or fitness?
The work would be there ahead of you and it would probably seem daunting. Still, step by step, you could work together, doing the workouts and homework to help yourselves remember where the two of you started.
Here are some recommended steps in relearning to love:
Spend time actually remembering your courtship and early marriage. Get out a scrapbook or journal and read it. Close your eyes and relive a memorable date. What was it that made you choose to love this person?
Give your communication a makeover
Get rid of phrases and thoughts such as, "I married you, didn't I?" and "You know how I feel" and questions like, "What were we thinking?" In their place, add, "I love you because " and "I married you because I couldn't imagine getting up every day and not seeing your face or hearing you speak," and "I know what I was thinking about how anxious we were to start our life together, and I never regret one moment of my decision."
Be honest without trying to be hurtful
If something specific is bothering you, talk it out without harsh accusation. Use "I" statements. "I feel unloved when you" or "I would really be happier if you wouldn't mind changing this one thing:."
Think only of your spouse
During times of marital stress, it is not uncommon to begin to think about someone else. Stop those thoughts in their tracks and think about your spouse.
Never speak ill of your spouse to anyone else
You will attract dangerous attention by doing so and exacerbate the problem in your own mind.
If you are confronted with flirtation,
let the party know that you are devoted to your spouse and say something kind about them and why you are with them.
Court your spouse
Go back to square one and do the things you did to win them over in the first place. Give small gifts. Make a special meal. Commit yourselves to a date once a week, even if it's only doing the grocery shopping together. Here are some ideas on hosting cheap dates for married couples.
It is fairly normal to see how you've changed and think that your spouse hasn't or vice versa. Look at the changes you have both undergone, the improvements you've made, and the trials you've weathered together.
If you are in a marriage that feels like it is crumbling around you, pick up a brick and put it back into place. Do your homework. Exercise your desire to keep it intact. You can relearn to love.