Is Your Marriage Suffering from Neglect?
When was the last time that you had a real conversation with your spouse? A conversation that did not involve the mortgage or how the kids are doing at school. As life comes charging in every morning when your alarm clock goes off, it is easy to get swept away in all the things you need to do throughout the day and week. But what happens to your marriage when it is the last thing to do on a mile-long to do list?
While your role as a parent is ultra-important and your kids literally need you to survive, your marriage also needs you to survive. Marriages change and develop over time as life responsibilities and circumstances change. When you first get married, all you have to worry about is making rent and how you can best show your love and affection to your new spouse. Soon after, when kids are first born you and your partner function in survival mode just to keep everyone fed and your eyes open while driving to and from the grocery store.
Your roles and responsibilities as a spouse and parent will change as time goes on. Your kids will become more and more independent, and eventually no longer need you to drive them to and from practice after school. Before you know it, they will be packing their room up for college and you will be left with the empty nest that some crave, and many dread. What happens to your marriage when you forget where and how all of this began?
Some empty nesters get to this point and find themselves looking around and wondering who the other person is that is still living in the house with them. Marriages are like houses or vehicles and require regular maintenance and up-keep. It is so easy to be swept away by life and busyness that we forget to give attention to the relationship that serves as the foundation for our families. It is important for couples to not only keep up with dating their spouses, but genuinely taking the time to get to know them again.
We each will change and grow over time, and our likes and dislikes may be very different from what they were when we got married in our twenties or thirties. We cannot expect our spouses to recognize and acknowledge each of these changes as they happen, but an intentional effort must be made to draw close to and connect with our partners. Whether you have time for just a dinner alone with your spouse after the kids have gone to bed, or you can swing a few days out of town with your partner, it is important that you put the focus back on your marriage today. It will be easy to say “oh, I will get to that next week or this summer,” but your marriage cannot wait!
Making time for your marriage is like making time to work out; if you do not put it on the calendar or schedule a specific time for it, it will not happen. Couples in every stage of life should create time to focus on their marriage and dating their spouse, and the earlier in life you can establish this routine the better. The more time spent drifting apart from one another due to what I’ll call “marital inactivity or neglect” the more distance you must cover coming back when working to create closeness again.
As in the case of your home or vehicle, the longer you allow problems to exist without repair or maintenance the more difficult, time-consuming, and expensive the fix will be. Is it time that you turned attention to your marriage once again? The future of your relationship and family are depending on it. If you are not quite sure where to start or how to begin this process, consider working with me to develop strategies to build ore rebuild strength in your marriage today.
Lauren Barron is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist-Associate who specializes in working with engaged, newlywed, and married couples. Call her today at (713)364-9748 to learn more or set up an appointment.