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“It was my own lovely lady and she said, ‘Aw it’s you.’ Then we laughed for a moment and I said, ‘I never knew…’” ∞ Rupert Holmes
Want to fall in love in the New Year? Have your eye on someone special – like your spouse? Of all the gifts you can give your mate, children, and yourself, none tops falling and staying in love. But how do you prevent your marriage from becoming dull and routine or get it out of this state if it’s already there?
Fitness Benefits of a Loving Marriage
Studies show married people’s physical and mental fitness exceeds that of unmarried people. They are happier, live longer, drink less, and have fewer doctors’ appointments. Loving spouses encourage positive behavior such as exercise and flossing while discouraging unhealthy ones like heavy drinking. When you’re experiencing the positive effects of love you’ll get fewer colds and wounds may heal more quickly.
Many longtime married couples pine for the heady days of new love. When the brain activity of longtime married couples was compared to couples newly in love, while both had neural activity associated with intense pleasure, the newer couples also had high levels of anxiety, tension, and obsession. The uncertainty of these relationships in part cancelled out the pleasure effect. Seasoned spouses remember the good feelings but forget the stress.
Avoiding the Routine of Love
Key, then, is maintaining that lovin’ feeling. For a long time, researchers believed eliminating conflict and tension led to enduring marriages. But more recent studies indicate that boredom is worse. Like I wrote about previously, love and hate are two sides of the same coin. Indifference destroys relationships.
That being the case, you need to invest some time and energy keeping your marriage vital. Here are three easy, fun ways:
- Find out something about your spouse you never knew before. No matter how long you’ve been together you don’t know everything. Periodically pretend you’re on a first date. Does she like Piña Coladas? Does he like to walk in the rain?
- Unexpectedly serve your spouse. Do it purely for love’s sake. Bring her breakfast in bed. Get his car washed for him.
- Praise your spouse. Who doesn’t like receiving a compliment? Make it pointed, sincere, and intentional.
Make sure these habits that don’t become habitual. Spontaneity is good (as long as your spouse likes surprises). They need not be elaborate. Heartfelt interactions with the desire to connect will keep dullness away. More than a feeling, as your marriage matures love is an action. Just like doing the same exercise over and over yields diminishing returns, so too do the same expressions of love.
Habits are good. But your routine of love should embrace discovery, service, and sincere connection.
How do you keep love alive in your marriage? Please comment below.