I have started (and stopped) writing this post many times.
I mean, if there is one thing I have learned about staying married and keeping the romance alive for the past nearly 17 years, it’s that there isn’t just one way to do it.
What works for one Jack and Jill, isn’t going to work for another Donnie and Marie – oh wait – that won’t work. How about Sunny and Cher (although in the end, they didn’t end up together). Fred and Wilma, now there is the ultimate example.
They faced a bedrock of problems, trying to survive in their stone aged world – and yet – they made it work. Maybe Wilma kept that flame alive for all of those years, by getting dressed every day in her white dress, and doing her hair and makeup. Although, I hope that isn’t the case. Heaven knows that doesn’t happen every day in our home!
I guess, for me, the fire isn’t the answer. The answer lies in the kindling. You know, the dried up afterthoughts of a log when it’s tired and settles onto the forest floor. Ants crawl through it, and even use pieces for homes. Birds help themselves and carry away bits and pieces here and there. It’s the aftermath of a beautiful towering tree, that once provided shelter and shade. When all is said and done, you have kindling.
Kindling in a marriage is what keeps the fire alive. It’s the small words and deeds that are shared *or not* each day. It is the memories, triumphs, sorrows and goals all bundled together. It is the substance of true love. Of course, the goal is to spark a flame and build it over many years. Sometimes it’s a roaring bon fire, (watch out kids, and quit knocking on our door) and other times, well, you are lucky to detect any smoke at all. And it can be extremely stinky smoke at that!
I’ve been known to mentally stamp out the flame, when all hope was lost. Feeling as if this would somehow make my heart heal from pain. I’ve also spent endless hours tending to the fire. Adding some paper here, some twigs there, and sheltering it from the furious winds raging all around us.
Sometimes I find myself looking around at how other couples balance out their differences of opinion and face lots of the same challenges that we all face. I see the strengths in both partners, and wonder how we will ever make it because, we just aren’t like them. But then I realize, we AREN’T them, and that is a good thing. We just have to figure out what works for US. Sure, we can compare with others and learn tips and tricks, but our answers aren’t always going to look like our neighbors, and that is okay.
I think there are some pretty universal truths that strengthen the passion in a relationship, such things as leaving notes, and looking for the positive in each other, but I’m going to focus some brain power on sharing the less thought of – or things that I find that we do.
1. Look the other way. okay okay, I’m not saying that you should let your spouse get away with murder, and silently sip your hot chocolate and bury your nose in a good book – but I am saying that nagging is water on fire. If all of your energy (passionate energy included) is going into reminders on taking out the trash, fixing the faucet turn thing, picking up nasty socks, and such – it’s pretty hard at the end of the day for either one of you to feel “in the mood”. Just as importantly, If I feel like I have been harped on about a dinner that tasted like plastic, because I may have heated up the left overs too long, or that a shirt isn’t ironed just right – I’m just not going to be strutin’ my stuff in lingerie. Nuff said.
2. Make believe. So some of you may be thinking I live in sort of a fantasy world – and possibly I do – but I believe that to have a romantic, passionate, ongoing for decades sort of love story, sometimes you have to pretend. Remember how you used to DIE to be together, before the diapers, sleepless nights, and cat fights? Pretend that your heart is beating really fast because you would die without this your significant other, and not because you just had a fight about who lost the remote control that day, or because you just ran up the stairs really fast to find that your son has rolled out his poop with a rolling pin on his train set table.
3. FLIRT. Remember when you first met, and you laughed, joked, and worked at your relationship? Sometimes when I am at a business event, I notice how everyone is “on” when meeting new people and representing their company. They talk nice, laugh, dress perfectly, and make friends – only to go home and not work equally as hard on your relationship. Or to be at home all day with screaming kids. What, that doesn’t turn you on?! I get it, your tired – or your husband is tired – but shouldn’t we make it a priority to flirt with one another? I think so. I don’t care if it’s corny or a little R rated. It just needs to happen. Make em’ blush. A few days ago I was using this technique on my hubby when I called him during the work day.
“Hey honey, I miss you!” (says I)
“Really? You miss your ornery, stubborn, husband?”
“No….I miss my sweet, kissy, licky…”
“Um Janae, you are on speaker phone…”
………… *blush* (I honestly felt my face grow HOT and that doesn’t happen very often)
So, it’s not always a good time. Even as I write this, my husband walked up and asked what I was typing about and I said “How to keep the fire going in a relationship.” You can guess what his one worded answer was. I told him that I would be willing to read him what I had written, and he said, “How long will it take? Paraphrase.” and I responded with, “Well ya, we wouldn’t want to talk about our relationship longer than three minutes.”
You see the age old problem. Men want *intimacy* to feel loved, and women want to feel loved to want *intimacy*. It’s that simple. Which leaves me to
4. Get in the mood. There is no question that both partners aren’t always going to be in the mood. Headaches, stressful days, crazy kids, hormones, a good television show, whatever – and everything – can stop us from being intimate. My point is, whenever possible, and I know it isn’t always possible, *just start* showing affection. This is another part of the kindling. Starter Fluid, right? And everyone will be a little happier for it. 🙂
5. When in Doubt, act like the Tom Tom Girl. You know who I’m talking about.
Whenever we make a wrong turn, she simply states, “Recalculating”. She doesn’t let it ruffle her feathers, or get her all bent out of shape, she just rolls with the punches. Couldn’t we all (women and men) use a little of that? I know I could!
Happy Valentines Day my Friends! May your heart be full of chocolate, and your tummy full of love!
Hello! I am Camille, a wife, mother of four, Disney obsessed, certified teacher, and reality optimist. Motherhood comes with its ups and downs, and I hope while you’re here you’ll find something that makes your #momlife easier!
Amazing advice Janae! I loved it!
I love this! So well put! Thank you for sharing! And now I’m “recalculating.” 🙂