This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Tina Schermer-Sellers.
The fire of love is a fragile and fickle flame. I often hear stories of people leaving good relationships because they have developed deep connections outside the marriage. So, how can you keep your marriage intact?
There are four, cultural elements causing marriage and love to be more fragile in these modern times. They are:
1. We marry for love.
We have been doing this for less than 100 years. Up until recent history, we married because of family loyalties, property, status, religious mandates and social tradition.
Love is a fragile thing … it needs lots of TLC! If love is ignored, the bond in the relationship will weaken. Inside this weakness dissention, criticism and distance grows. Love is like a small flame; it needs lots of consistent time and attention to stay strong!
2. Spouses aren’t dependent on one another.
Women and men are now both able to care for themselves and their children financially and socially, leaving both sexes less likely to stay in unhappy relationships. This fact, plus the fact that many people have successfully moved on from one marriage into another life reduces the stigma of divorce.
The financial and social pressure to stay married isn’t what it used to be. People stay married because they choose each other daily, they want to choose each other daily, and they nourish their connection daily as well.
3. We live longer than we ever have.
The average age of marriage in urban areas is 26 for women and 28 for men. With a lifespan of 85-plus years, it is feasible to be married for 60-plus years. There is a great amount of change people go through over a 60-year relationship.
As a culture, do we invest any time giving people the skills they need to keep a love alive and vibrant? Do we even know what that means, what that looks like, or how to do such a thing? A couple who actively works to improve their relationship IQ weathers life’s challenges with more grace, compassion and love. As they keep growing, so does their relationship.
4. We now live a 24/7 lifestyle.
This is an entirely new social phenomenon that has never been the case before. People are working 50+ hours a week, on their communication devices all hours of the night and day, expected to be reachable and attending to multiple demands simultaneously — the email from work, the text from a child, the conversation with a partner, the deadline that is tomorrow, the sale that ends tonight. This is impossible … hello?? … this is impossible to do without losing connection with those closest to you.
To nourish a meaningful, deeply attached relationship with a child, spouse or friend, to nourish love, you need focused time to be thoughtfully and solely with each other … in the moment … present in the now … open heart to open heart. That is the only way. Distracted connections become weak connections and weak connections, with nothing social or internal holding them together, will in time, break. There is no magic wishing that will suffice … they will break.
If these influences negatively affect your love life, discuss how you can bring more TLC into your relationship. Discuss how to wrap space, time and attention around you by putting in a few protective boundaries. For example, no electronics in bed or 15 minutes of quiet music, a glass of wine and a dimly lit room together before bed.
Most importantly, discuss what you miss and how to bring more of that into your busy lives, longing hearts and sacred union.
More marriage advice from YourTango:
- 4 Skills You Need Before Getting Married [EXPERT]
- Way Too Many Married Couples Kiss Less Than Once A Week
- Why Do Men Get Married? [VIDEO]
Divorcing couple photo available from Shutterstock