Saturday, August 20, 2011

Marriage: Comfort Versus Complacency

How often do we hear the expression or say the words "time flies?" It's usually when we are having fun or reminiscing about the years that have gone by and how much has happened in between.

As parents, we often think about this as it pertains to our kids, amazed at how quickly they are growing up and developing and it feels like it's happening so fast.

I still can't believe that Sarah is approaching the age of four and there are so many amazing memories we have had to date. I say often how time has flown when looking back at old photos and videos, and thinking of the many moments I have had with my precious little girl.

Thinking about this further, it's hard not to remember the less than favorable memories too in which we wished for the tomorrows and next weeks to come after many sleepless nights of crying babies, issues and pain associated with breast feeding, and the stress and anxiety associated with being a loving parent worrying about everything in relation to our children.

However, one thing does hold true. As a parent I know that I did, and still do, find many ways to keep the fun alive to entertain Sarah and keep her happy, while being a happy parent too.

It's very easy to get lost in the routines of life including meals, bath time and bedtime rituals. Fortunately, while routine is very important for children they very much need variety to try new things, explore and develop to grow.

The same holds true for marriage.

As parents, it's very easy for us to set our marriage needs aside and dedicate more of our efforts to our children and their needs and wants.

This thinking came up for me recently when a newly married friend at work, Michelle, who writes a blog called Life as a Vroom, shared a story recently here about the importance of recognizing when a married relationship becomes too complacent.

From her perspective, this story rings true as her own parents, at a later stage in life after years of marriage and grown children, are going through a divorce.

At first, I have to admit that I read complacency in her story and instead felt it was important to point out to her, after being married nearly eight years, that I think it's okay to get comfortable in a relationship as it's a sign that you are connected to your partner and not necessarily complacent.

The more I thought about, the more she was right. It's very easy to become almost too comfortable in a relationship to the point where it becomes complacent and life becomes more routine where we stop listening to each other and instead go about every day life, working, making money, parenting the kids, and more.

It's those date nights and little quirky things that we do in relationships that needs to continue to keep the spark alive in marriages, whether there are children or not.

The timing for this blog post is perfect. About a half a year ago Parents magazine was seeking ways in which couples with children keep marriage alive and the reminders of their love for each other.

The picture up at the beginning of this story is part of bigger article in the September 2011 issue of Parents magazine entitled How to Fall in Love All Over Again. Daniel and I shared one of many experiences with the editor that has been a fun, constant reminder of the love and appreciation we have for each other. The funny thing about this one "thing" is that it was not a thought out idea, but instead something that sort of just happened on its own and morphed into something much bigger than we had anticipated.

One day, nearly seven years ago, Daniel was changing the printer cartridge on our computer. While testing the toner he printed out a piece of paper with the words I Love You!!! It was cute. I giggled. Then, I didn't think much of it.

Over time, this piece of paper would find itself, planted by Daniel first and then by me, in various places in our home, traveling suitcases, plastic bags inside ice cream containers, jacket pockets, glass cases, lunch bags and, yes, a toilet seat. (Yep, Daniel was the brilliant one to place this, thankfully in a plastic bag, one morning before I had to pee).

Every time this note, which has been folded and refolded many times over, gets found each of us says, "Oh, look, my [insert location] loves me." Each of us then often giggles. It's kind of funny how after so many years this simple piece of paper brings a flood of memories, happiness, communication, connectedness and comfort.

Each of us as couples, as parents, are different. What works for one family may not work for another. But, my friend Michelle reminds me, from her newly married point of view, that regardless of how long you are married and whether you have kids, it's important to keep that love alive, fresh and renewed. Think about the ways in which we ignite fun with the kids to keep them happy, appreciated and loved. It's imperative that we do the same for our marriages to avoid complacency.

Let's continue to keep the spunk in our relationships and find new ways to express love and appreciation through both verbal and non-verbal communication.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Caren -- seriously I think it is your best one ever. Hubby and I were just having this discussion today -- how we are both a little burnt out by our two toddlers and as a result are withdrawing a bit into our own little worlds of the never ending tasks around them. It's truly a battle at times - to put your spouse at the top of the list -- but so, SO necessary!

    Tara

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