Marriage is not just the act of two people who love each other making their relationship public and permanent. Marriage is the promise of two people to enter into a bond (with the intention that it will last until death) which will constantly require growth from both parties in order to stay intact.
For many reasons, marriage in this day and age is increasingly cut short by divorce. Couples often venture into marriage with the illusion that their relationship and feelings for each other will never change. But relationships are a dynamic, mutable force. Over the course of time, our personalities change, our desires change, and romantic love waxes and wanes. No marriage is free of conflict. What enables a couple to not only endure, but also to thrive is found in how they handle those conflicts… whether they use them as a cause to change course and grow together or as a cause to change course and grow apart. Marriage presents not just an opportunity for growth, but also the demand for it.
When we first fall in love with someone, the power of attraction makes it so that our focus is that of pure appreciation. Our focus is placed so solidly on what is positive about that other person that we overlook traits which they possess that we would not like if we noticed them. Falling in love makes a person a better person. It makes us better because it causes our focus to become positive. This positive focus then causes us to become more appreciative, caring, loving, compassionate, and allowing.
Experiencing those “qualities” within ourselves makes us feel worthy and lovable and it also gives us a sense of false confidence that the relationship will not take work to be successful and enjoyable, because being in love makes it so easy to do. The problem is that in the beginning of a relationship or marriage, we think it is because of our partner that we feel this way. This is not true. We actually feel good because the act of focusing on our partner in a positive way makes us feel good about ourselves and the world we live in.
It is the human condition that, as time progresses (and we become acclimated to the intense energy and chemistry of attraction), our attention strays from the obsessive focus on our partners to everything else that is going on in our lives. It is also the human condition that negative things are more capable of capturing our undivided attention than positive things are. So, as our focus strays away from all of the positive things about our partner, we begin to focus instead on aspects of our lovers which we do not like.
The pure, positive energetic vibration of love is disallowed by thoughts which hold a negative energetic vibration. And so this negative focus is the cause of love decreasing. It has nothing to do with the other partner. Even though both partners in the marriage may be experiencing this shift simultaneously, decrease in love is the emotional indication that the orientation of focus has shifted in a negative direction. When the orientation of our focus shifts from positive to negative, the emotional intensity of love wears off. And when the emotional intensity of love wears off, care, appreciation, allowance, and compassion tend to fade with it. As a result, we no longer feel like a good person. We don’t feel lovable and adequate as an intimate partner. And if these core insecurities of suddenly feeling inadequate and unlovable are blamed by each partner on the other, the marriage will fail.
The shift in focus which causes us to recognize negative traits in our partner has nothing to do with us not liking who they really are. What is really taking place is that the initial energy and chemistry of falling in love created an illusion of certainty, that they were the living embodiment of everything we really liked. So we often think that they are the answer to our permanent happiness.
This type of disillusionment is what causes couples to divorce in the early years of marriage. Many couples think they are fighting about things like money, sex, other people, or mortgages, etc., when the vast majority of the arguments that couples have in the first years of marriage are actually fights about the break down of this disillusionment. The argument below the surface argument is actually comprised of each partner asking of the other "Why can't you be exactly what I want?. You made me feel like I was what you wanted! Now, without your pure, positive attention, I feel bad about myself because my happiness was dependent on your focus on me”. And “I thought that the answer to my happiness was you, it felt that way in the beginning, so you have to be what I want now!". The truth is that our partners don’t ever make us better people. Instead, it is our appreciation, care, allowing, and compassion of our partner that makes us better, more loving people.
We all want to feel good about ourselves, and to see ourselves as lovable and adequate (which is the real anchor for an enduring marriage). To do this, you must return to the appreciative, caring, allowing, and compassionate person you were in the beginning of the relationship, which was at that point, the result of being newly in love. Marriage is the commitment to love and all the demand for growth that it entails. Falling in love is easy. The real growth that is the byproduct of the commitment to love begins when we take the individual responsibility of ensuring our own happiness. When you, yourself are happy and healthy, it spills over onto all the people around you and the first to receive the benefit of this “spill over” effect will be your spouse.