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Ladies, do you know anyone (maybe yourself) who is in a loveless marriage or relationship?
A comment on a message board by a man whose first marriage failed but his second marriage is thriving because he “games” his wife got me thinking, maybe a lot of relationships flop because people (both men and women) make the mistake of thinking once a commitment is made, wooing, or even just downright good behavior, is no longer necessary?
As I think about the couples I know who are struggling, as well as reflecting back on my own marriage and another serious LTR that eventually failed, in many cases it’s because of that fatal flaw — one or both partners think they now have a “get out of effort free” card. All that effort they spent wooing their mate gets redirected toward other areas in life, instead.
It is a lot of work to attract a partner, as anyone in the dating market can surely attest. I can see why it might be tempting to think all that effort isn’t needed once a relationship is solidified. But I think the opposite is true — couples should never stop dating, never stop wooing his or her mate.
That said, it doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. It really doesn’t take much effort at all to show someone (not just tell them) that they are special, and in fact your very most special someone. An unexpected note in their vehicle wishing them a great day, their very favorite meal made on a non-special occasion, surprising him in lingerie, sending him a racy text while he is on lunch break from work, none of these things require huge financial investment or an extraordinary amount of time, and yet these small gestures can pay off big time.
One SAHM (stay at home mom) I know, who is unhappily married, has admittedly gotten lost in her four children. She puts them and their needs on a pedestal yet doesn’t see the need to do so for her spouse. They have not once gone on a date or weekend away without the kids, much less an extended vacation. She dotes on her children and yet voices outrage that her husband dares voice he’d at least like to be on par with the kids (and really, imho he should come FIRST, not last.) She admits to rarely having sex, and even then in this begrudging “just get it over with” way. Blech.
And while I don’t know both sides of the story, the behavior she moans about, him not being happy, his snippy attitude, his not putting in effort in the bedroom, his not caring about her happiness, I wonder how much of that is a result of her lack of investment? How much is really tit for tat?
But instead of seeing that, she continues to blame HIM rather than to take a proactive approach. He should be prince charming to her princess. When I gently urge her to try making a fuss over him, telling him how much she appreciates his sacrifices (like working a job that requires hard physical labor in extreme heat and cold and miserable conditions, daily, for the past 10+ years so she could be at home with the kids), making the moves on him, or scheduling a date or weekend away, she looks at me like I have gone mad! What? I am supposed to be sympathizing with her, not the enemy!
But I refuse to do it. Because I made the same mistakes in my marriage, and I am now a single mom, and while she thinks I have all this freedom and a glamorous lifestyle of excitement and fun, in reality I know firsthand the grass isn’t greener. It’s not easier to be a single mom than a married one, by a long shot. Trust me on this.
She seems to on one hand be quite distressed that her marriage is so unhappy yet stubbornly wants her husband to take the first steps to make things right. But in the end, in all areas of life, relationships included, you get out what you put in.
And in the end, what is she risking? A little effort needed to stoke the fires of romance and breathe new life into her marriage? The risk that it might not work? Yes, that risk is there. But there’s also the very real possibility that instead of being in an unhappy marriage, she could find herself (and her children) in a happy one. That opportunity is within her grasp. But not if she doesn’t change her attitude.
Love is a verb. Never stop loving your mate. Like a lifetime of slow, small, steady investments, it will likely pay off big time in the end over a lifetime of haphazard big investments of love on the expected anniversaries and holidays and then long stretches without in between.
Let those who have ears hear.
It’s good to see you back! You have been missed.
I can’t u8nderstand why someone would throw away a relationship. To add to that, turn the children’s father out of the house.
Thank you for pointing out an alternative.
Society seems to support people, especially women, leaving more than it supports people staying. I agree it’s all backwards Fuzzie! Society should be supporting the preservation of marriages and family, encouraging that. It’s a huge tide to turn and as the story goes the shore is covered in struggling starfish but hopefully if my writing about this hard learned lesson helps a few struggling starfish make it back into the sea, and it will have made a difference at least for them, and their kids. Peace!
i wish they wouldn’t do that. It’s one thing if there are no kids. It’s quite another to goad Mommy into dumping Daddy. Mommy can’t replace Daddy.
Agreed 100% fuzzie!
“I love you,” are three words of a static statement…hardly any ripple effect.
“I am loving you,” can be seen in action within the following animated short:
Larry G said:
Even though this article is nearly two years old, I’d like to comment on it if I may. A lot of what you wrote is quite accurate about keeping a marriage healthy and thriving. In my opinion it all boils down to how much value you place on your spouse, simple enough.
My wife and I are a bit different; she is originally from a conservative country outside of the US where “bride prices” and arranged marriages are the normal cultural custom. In essence, I met my lady through her brother, in time asked her father for permission to court her (always chaperoned thank you very much), asked for her hand in marriage from him, became engaged to this wonderful and lovely virgin girl for a very specific amount of time (exactly 365 days), negotiated her bride-price (paid in gold) with her father and took her as my wife almost twenty-three years ago.
An interesting concept isn’t it? To sit down and fix a value on one you love and want to spend your life with, negotiating and then actually paying for that person. And before you jump to the conclusion that this was in any way dis-honorable or illegal, or “buying” another human being; know that my wife’s father unexpectedly returned the entire bride-price I had paid on our wedding day. It was a test (of me).
And, as always, when I tell our story, someone nearly always wants to know “how much?” did I pay for my bride. My wife knows that on our wedding day, she was worth $35,000 in gold.
Larry G said:
one further point; after two decades of marriage I love her very much and cannot imagine a life without her. And she still loves me silly and has a sense of humor that still puts me in stitches. Life is good!
Larry g, if you don’t mind me asking, what country or area of the world was your wife from? Very sweet story! 🙂
Love it! I believe you Larry and wish you many more years of happiness! 🙂
Larry G said:
No I don’t mind at all. My wife was from eastern Turkey. In 1988 I divorced an unfaithful woman (the process cost me literally everything I owned) and began working overseas contracts as a civilian engineer.
I accepted my first contract assignment in Kwajalein, Marshall Islands for a year. This time was a time of healing for me from the trauma; and of improving physically, emotionally, spiritually and of course financially. I worked hard and began new interests and hobbies that pleased me which did not involve women. I made several rather foolish promises to myself; swearing off all associations with women (this was 1989-90, perhaps an original MGTOW) which I kept for years. Because of one females’ betrayal I excluded half of the worlds population from interacting or getting close to me.
My second contract was Turkey;. a lovely country with wonderful people. Again, a one year contract as a civilian consulting engineer for the US military. In the evenings I taught sever young people English at their request. Among them was a bright young Turkish man who kept pestering me on my marital status, as in why I was not married. I explained that I had absolutely no interest in having a relationship with any woman (and no, I was NOT gay).
Well, my contract was extended indefinitely and I transferred to a much larger job and responsibility. My young male student invited me to visit him at his home during my vacation for a few days, which I thought was a grand idea, and meet his family. What I did not know at the time was that he had told his sister and father that this lone American might be a “catch” for her. Hmmm…conspiracy?
I arrived to visit, and was absolutely stunned by a quiet 23 year old beauty with soft light brown hair and sparkling green eyes. Now, blonde and blue eyed women? Meh. Green eyes? I’m toast. Her father was delighted as was the brother, our mutual attraction must have been a bit obvious at that point. So, in the end my touring Turkey for two weeks was put on hold, I spent my entire vacation with this lovely girl who would later become my wife.
You asked a simple question and got a short story in return, I need to be more concise.
Larry G said:
It seems I always have a stray thought or two after I’ve finished writing something. In two or three years from now, my wife and I have decided to move back to her country where I can peacefully retire. She will have her family near which I know will please her, and me. Her family is mine and has always treated me as a son/brother, all I have to do is relearn my Turkish which I have mostly forgotten by now.
My wife speaks English very well now but with a sexy accent that I love (I taught her English, she spoke none) hearing.
That’s a great story, Larry! 🙂
That is so sweet, Larry! Wow, what an incredible story.
If you don’t mind my asking, what is your age difference between you and your 2nd wife?
Larry G said:
Dragonfly, I do not mind you asking; my wife is 17 years younger than I am. We married when she had just turned 23 years old.
That is just too cool! I’m so glad to hear of a post-divorce story that worked out! Very uplifting!