My brother recently told me he admired my perfect marriage. I laughed at him.
Then I had to explain to him we don’t have a perfect marriage, we just work really hard at having a healthy marriage. There is a difference!
The honeymoon phase of a marriage usually only lasts the first year.
Some people get lucky and stay there for as many as three years. Eventually, though, to maintain a healthy relationship, you do actually need to transition from “honeymoon” mentality to “forever” mentality.
I remember hearing a 60-year-old man say he and his wife were still in the honeymoon stage of life.
I was horrified! How terrible never to grow up, to mature, and to see what your marriage is really made of!
When couples in the “honeymoon” stage go through intense situations together, they face the opportunity to either grow together or to grow apart. Those insistent on staying in the immature phase of marriage focused on good feels and spontaneous romance often don’t make it long enough to see just what their marriage could have become if they would’ve chosen to put down their roots deeper and commit to staying together “come hell or high water!”
A healthy marriage, on the other hand, takes work. A lot of work.
Rob and I are not perfect, as I explained to my brother, but we are extremely intentional. We realize we need to give each other and to solicit from one another constant feedback for our marriage to run smoothly.
In the beginning of our marriage, this was foreign to both of us. It was just something the Lord led me to do and it helped us a lot! At first, our conversations would look something like this:
Kelly: “How are we doing in our marriage?”
Rob: “Good, I think. What do you think?”
And I would respond.
They eventually progressed to something a little more like this:
“Are you receiving everything you need from me sexually? Emotionally? Mentally? Is there anything you need more of from me? Is there anything you need less of? What are the things I do that you wish I wouldn’t? What are the things I do that you wish I did more often?”
We would both ask those questions of each other and have in-depth conversations every week, sometimes more than once a week if we felt is was needed.
That did wonders for our marriage!
Those conversations opened the door for other ones such as, “It really irritates me when we’re being intimate and you do (fill-in-the-blank).”
And conversations like, “I know you hate cleaning, but I really hate coming home to a dirty house. Could you please set aside some time to do the dishes and the laundry?”
We have to be honest with each other and communicate respectfully and sincerely. That’s the only way to make forward progress, to be open with one another and be willing to change.
Hormones play a big role in marriage and how well the two function as one. There are times one of us has raging hormones and would like to have a little fun in the bedroom. Or times when those same hormones require a box of Kleenex and some hysterical sobbing and late-night cuddles.
Staying in the honeymoon phase of a relationship keeps the couple from seeing the complexities that exist in their unity. The person you married today will not – I repeat, WILL NOT! – be the same person ten years from now. Actually, they won’t even be the same person in ten weeks! Especially, if you get her pregnant on that honeymoon, men!
People are dynamic, not static; we are constantly changing and developing. To expect someone to remain the same in your marriage, to anticipate the same expressions of romance or even to assume they will exhibit the same eagerness for intimacy is just silly. My favorite television thing to watch as a child was Sesame Street.
I promise you, it’s not my favorite show now as an adult!
Change is a good thing. Growth is a good thing. Just make sure you’re growing together instead of farther apart.