Do you ever wake up next to your spouse and ask yourself if this is all there is, or how come it feels like you’re two strangers living in the same house?
You remember the romance, the excitement, and the love you shared when you first met and you wonder where it all went.
It is time to toss the memories and the illusions and come back to the real world.
The reality is that two people who are living together for years should not expect to feel the same type of love they felt years ago. It changes, but it’s still love.
Men and women have the same need to feel connected and to feel loved, but their definition of connection, their definition of love might be different.
She might define love and connection as deep conversations, as him guessing what’s on her mind, bringing her flowers or comforting her when she’s going through a rough time.
For him, love and connection might first mean sex, and then maybe her doing things for him or bringing him the newspaper when he’s coming back tired and stressed from work, or saying “go have some quiet time with yourself, I’ll take care of the kids.”
We create an illusion in our heads of what our relationships should look like, of how our partners should behave. We set up expectations that are unrealistic and are so far away from reality.
We focus all our energy on how they don’t live up to our expectations. We try to change them so they’ll match our “plan”, and we get disappointed. We are disappointed when they don’t do what we want them to do, what we expect them to do and that’s why we feel that “dealing” with our spouses is like having another kid in the house.
They don’t even know that we expect them to bring us flowers or to read our minds. They have no idea that when they don’t change the light bulb we asked them to change 4 months ago, we think they don’t love us.
Men and women think differently.
Here are three secrets for long lasting relationships:
- Accept that he thinks differently.
Don’t expect him to read your mind.
You want him to do something for you? Tell him! Explain to him in a kind and loving way why this is important to you and ask him (don’t tell him!) if he would do it.
- Shift your focus from him to yourself.
You want him to hug you more? Hug him. You want him to listen to you more? Listen to him. Instead of blaming him, take responsibility and change yourself: your thinking, attitude, and your behavior. Be kind and loving. Care about him. Give what you want to receive.
- Pay attention to what he does instead of what he doesn’t.
He came back from doing grocery shopping and he got some things that weren’t on the list? Instead of getting mad about the unnecessary stuff he got, thank him for getting the groceries. He cooked dinner but the kitchen is a mess? Thank him for dinner instead of being angry about the mess. Pay attention to the little things. Acknowledge him for it.
My husband and I are married for over 25 years. All those years, almost every morning, he makes our bed. I wake up and leave my side of the bed messy, and he fixes it. 25 years. Did I ever tell him that I appreciate him doing that? Last week, our cars were parked outside and in the morning the windows were covered with ice. My husband left first, and even though he was late, after scraping the ice off his window he came back to the house and left the ice-scraper on the kitchen counter for me, so I don’t have to look for it when I leave. Did I thank him for that? No, I took it for granted.
Love can be expressed in little things. There is no right way. The illusion we have in our heads is not the only way.
Was there something my husband did that day that made me mad? Probably. Did I do something that disappointed him? I’m sure I did.
What do we feed? What they did or what they didn’t?
You want to make sure that the positive far outweighs the negative. When couple’s interactions are usually loving and kind, when they pay attention to the small things the other does for them, it’s much easier to move past the occasional unpleasant exchange.