Relationships Take Work
When I first met them, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them, because it was clear that they were so in love.
Ed and Agatha (not their real names) were in their early sixties. Ed is a relative (through marriage) of a relative of mine; during a visit to my kin, I was invited to dinner at Ed and Agatha’s place.
They set a mighty fine table! Ed is retired after a lucrative career and Agatha (also successful) is like Martha Stewart–a fabulous host, tremendous cook, and warm personality.
It was my first time in their lovely home, and, while I was impressed by their beautiful house and inviting hospitality, I was all the more struck by their obvious love for one another.
It was evident in the little things, the way that they interacted and even in the ways that they moved around one another. He would walk by her and playfully pinch her rear; she would glide past him and run her fingers along his shoulders. He came into the kitchen and asked her, “What can I do to be helpful?” (Isn’t that a perfectly wonderful question, ladies?) She was constantly smiling at him and praising him. He watched her walk past at one point and said to me, “There goes my beautiful bride.” I found them smooching in the kitchen twice (not making out like a couple of teenagers, but sharing affectionate kisses).
It was amazing, and all the more so because they had been married for over 20 years! Afterwards, I asked my relative, “What is with Ed and Agatha? They’re like a couple of newlyweds.”
“I know, right?” she said. “It almost makes you sick!” she joked. “I asked Agatha about that once I got to know her better. I said, ‘How do you do it?'”
“‘We work at it,’ she said. ‘Everything that you see us doing in there takes work.'”
For both of them, this was their second marriage, and there was a time, early on, that things weren’t great in this marriage. So they found themselves in a counselor’s office, and he was a good one (there are some good ones out there!) because he convinced them to work at it.
They both said, “I don’t want to be divorced again. What do we have to do?”
Work at it. Don’t take it for granted. Put in effort, every day.
You see, relationships–even the best of them–take work. I’m sure there are times that even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie wake up and look at one another and think, “You again?”
Research shows that, for the vast majority of relationships, “the honeymoon period” ends after two years. After that, you have to work at it.
Stop wasting your emotional energy being resentful of the things that he does or the things that she doesn’t do; put your energy into doing your part to work at it and into convincing your partner to do the same.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking, “I’ll go and find happiness with someone else.” You might–initially. But eventually, you’ll find yourself in the same place with your new relationship as you were in your old one.
When you buy a new car, it runs great at first–you don’t have to do much to it. Eventually, though, the wear-and-tear begins to show and it requires attention. Sometimes, you have to take it to a mechanic. If your marriage–which is far more valuable than your car–required a tune up, why wouldn’t you take it to a “marriage mechanic?”
Call a counselor if you need some help, and together, we’ll work at it.