Married friends often commonly complain about the loss of sizzle and ensuing staleness and boredom that creeps into their marriage relationship. They are afraid they can’t fix their unhappy marriage relationship after the infatuation ends.
Couples reminisce about how they felt when they fell in love, describing fireworks, shaking earth, clammy hands, flushed cheeks, unbearable anticipation, and a new awareness of the world’s vivid beauty.
Few good things in life overtake and exhilarate us quite like infatuation in early love. No wonder they want to be crazy in love again.
Instead they find themselves unhappy in their marriage relationship. They often misinterpret the hum drum of daily life with a problem instead of understanding infatuation does not last forever.
Contrast that love struck state with the reality of dailiness and inevitable relationship routines that over time become mundane after you’ve started to play house for real. Meals, bills, kids, trash, homework, pets, laundry, careers… and let’s not even get started about the pressure of social media and instant gratification of the online world.
Couples get exhausted, distracted and want a few moments of peace-alone-with no expectations of them. Even sex can lose its spark and turn into just another routine that wears on relationships. This can make a person wonder how to fix an unhappy marriage relationship after infatuation fades.
Thinking about all this reminds me of an old Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?” Even those of you unfamiliar with Peggy Lee have surely asked yourself the same question.
The next logical follow-up question relates to marital happiness. Does the mundaneness of daily life really translate into an unhappy marriage? Is the blissful high of infatuation a hallmark of true love and sustainable? Is ther love after infatuation?
People try to recapture the elation of new love (which, by the way, statistically lasts from two months to two years). The first year or two is a time when we are at the mercy of our biochemistry. We get flooded with dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, the chemicals released during the first stage of love.
First, you might try to recapture these feelings with your partner and get disappointed when the attempts fail and the chemicals don’t fly. Next, you might conclude that the spark and sizzle cannot be rekindled so maybe it’s time to trade your partner for a new model – a shiny new mate with a lot of zip and updated features. Those who adopt the trade-in model of relationship will inevitably experience the fade of infatuation.
Relationships that satisfy at the soul level are not about the shiny new Maserti. The gold gets mined after couples navigate through the different stages of relationship.
The electricity of love’s first blush is meant for just that initial stage, the biochemical stage. As you get to know your partner in a deep and intimate way, which is possible only after time/years spent together, your relationship evolves. Nature programmed us this way.
To create and maintain a healthy and vibrant relationship takes focus, dedication, and commitment. For a healthy relationship, we all need to overcome difficulties and obstacles we will inevitably encounter along the way. We need to stop expecting to be infatuated with our partner forever.
Here are some suggestions on how to fix an unhappy marriage relationship after infatuation fades…and you can start them at any time even after many years of unhappiness.
1. Couples who are successful take the time to learn, practice and develop a wide range of problem solving skills that revolve around certain themes:
3. Discover how to balance freedom and commitment (how do I stay me and also be “we”?).
3. Learn to communicate and talk through your differences until they are resolved.
4. Learn how to let go of anger and resentment.
5. Understand the secret of oxytocin, the chemical released during child birth that bonds a mother and baby. It turns out oxytocin is released by both sexes during orgasm and also by cuddling and promotes bonding. The theory goes that the more sex a couple has, the deeper their bond becomes. The frequency of sex in a relationship often needs to be negotiated as men and women differ on how much sex is enough.
6. Accept the challenge to maintain a vibrant marriage relationship is formidable. The partners need to be lively, curious, and willing sometimes to be spontaneous and go outside their comfort zone .
7. Cultivate a sense of humor and irony. They are worth their weight in gold.
The quality of our relationship reflects who we are as a person, what we put into it, and the kind of relationship vision we have.
Here’s a practical tip you can try right away. Start with you. How can YOU as a person be more alive, curious, expressive, and demonstratively loving?
How often do YOU look into your partner’s eyes and connect on a deeper level?
How much oxytocin gets released in your bedroom? YOU do something to take it up a notch and see what happens. YOU can start by the simple act of cuddling more.
Healthy, mature relationships don’t feel like infatuation; they feel better despite the lack of lightning bolts, racing heart, fireworks, and trembling earth. Knowing how to fix an unhappy marriage relationship after infatuation fades, and how to maintain it takes learning and practice. It takes dedication and persistance.
Mature relationships feel accepting, loving, warm, comfortable, and filled with ease. Enduring relationships satisfy our deep need for connection and belonging. Successful couples give each other space enough to feel free and connection enough to feel safe and loved. What could be better?
Jerry Duberstein, Ph.D. is the co-author with his wife, Mary Ellen Goggin of the book , Relationship Transformation: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too-A Practical Guide for Couples Who Want To Be Free and Connected. Jerry and Mary Ellen offer private intensive retreats for couples weekend in the seaport town, Portsmouth, NH.