You just might have noticed that I didn’t blog last week. I was much too wrapped up in a very special occasion. You see, my son got married. I think you’ll agree that would be pretty momentous and top of my list. The lead up of course had been a mixture of emotions and frustrations, no major rows but not stress free (what wedding is?) and suddenly here we were, checking the weather forecast daily, and making all the practical arrangements (just where was the best man going to sleep?).
Of course it was the most wonderful magical day. Just as we hoped for and expected. My son looked handsome, was charming and witty and obviously very much in love. His bride looked stunning, radiant, and showed us too how much she loved our precious boy. Love just shone out of their eyes. It struck me that you don’t see that very often. Pure unadulterated love just radiating, and it was marvellous.
We all know that as time goes on, this radiant love turns from “passionate love” into “companionate love” which is based on shared beliefs, mutual respect and commitment. In her book The Myth of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests a few simple, practical ways to address the possible pitfalls of this change in a relationship.
There’s appreciation. As we settle into our lives with a partner, day-to-day demands can crowd out expressions of appreciation that were easy and spontaneous at the beginning of the relationship. She suggests writing down things that you appreciate about your partner, or even to imagine life without your partner. The point is not to take your relationship for granted.
Then there’s variation. Variety is the key to avoiding stagnation in a relationship. Lyubomirsky suggests learning something new together like a language, taking a dance or cooking class. Routines may be necessary but it’s important to balance them with excitement.
Lastly, spontaneity makes a difference. Studies show that people are reminded of their attraction to their partner when they see them in an unexpected context — like watching them give a speech if they never have before, or running a marathon for the first time. It reminds them that there is more to the person they brush their teeth next to in the morning.
Having been married for almost 35 years, I would add kindness. I don’t always remember to be kind but I know I appreciate it when my husband does the things I don’t feel like doing, offers to bring the car round so I don’t have to walk in the rain, looks after my fish tank or makes me a frothy coffee.
My wish for my son and all married couples is to retain that sparkle in their eyes, the sheer joy of loving and being loved, even if over time it becomes companiable. There’s a lot to be said for loving your best friend.