So your relationship is a long way from dreamy, and you’re thinking your husband or wife doesn’t deserve a Valentine this year. You’re just not feeling it. Sending a hearts-and-flowers card would be fake, and might convey that he or she is off the hook for more than a few things you’re not too happy about. It’s a Hallmark holiday anyway, right?
No doubt about it, honesty matters. That said, sometimes we dump our partner off a disappointment cliff because we’re unrealistic about marriage.
Remember when you first met? You could hardly believe your luck. You felt deeply understood by an amazingly beautiful person. Just hanging out in the same room together was more fun than you ever imagined. You’d found The One. You were the couple everybody else wanted to be. Perfect.
Now your husband or wife leaves socks on the floor, gets mad when you make a simple request, talks too much or too little. Conversations with your colleagues are more interesting than the ones at your breakfast table –those are the people who really get you, right? You and your spouse hardly ever have sex, and when you do it’s the same old same old. What happened to perfection?
Sooner or later, that crash landing happens to every couple. Our Western culture idealizes romantic love — a blissful lifetime of wild passion and mutual mind-reading. Add to that all the media focus on people who supposedly “have it all.” Sadly, these unrealistic visions leave a lot of couples worrying that something’s drastically wrong when their marriage is challenging or less than exciting.
Now, I’m not suggesting you settle. No reason to put up with a relationship that’s gone stale or turned into an exercise in frustration. Work on it! By learning some of the time-tested skills of intimate communication, you can breathe life back into your marriage for the long haul. You can discover how to create an emotionally safe space between you so that you can connect honestly and gently. You can get better at managing home and family as a team. Real-life loving, like any pursuit that truly matters, requires daily practice.
In a lifelong relationship there are good days and bad days, even good years and bad years. Since you’re two different people, conflicts are inevitable. Every time you reach out to let your partner know you appreciate him or her, you are weaving the connection that will help you work through those conflicts. “We’re in this together,” you’re telling your spouse. “We’ll get through it.”
Your partner’s not perfect — who is? — but nurturing the bond between you, even during a tough time in your marriage, helps it grow and thrive. Waiting for conflict-free, dizzy romance? That’s just a Hallmark card.