I recently read that the divorce rate is actually dropping. Several factors play into that, one being that Millennials are waiting longer to marry, when they are older and more established in their careers and finances. While some people will cling to the idea that a reduction in divorce rates is a sign of good things happening, we have to remember that staying together longer is only great if the relationship is flourishing. And I can say with certainty, caring for hundreds of patients each week, that many relationships are barely limping along, and most certainly are not flourishing.
Having friends, belonging to groups or organizations, and being married is only part of the story. How good is the friendship, how active and involved are you in the group or organization, and how loving and passionate is the marriage? If you are interested in true wellness, what you eat and how much you exercise is critical, but most people forget that a major pillar in maximized health and optimal living is the quality of your relationships.
Do you wonder why the intensity of a relationship wanes? Do you wonder why some relationships in your life are better, stronger, and deeper than others? It’s not random chance or luck. And accepting that relationships like marriage are supposed to fizzle out over time is the worst thing you can do.
In every relationship, there are things you can say and things you can do to nurture the relationship, but maybe you don’t do them. Not doing them erodes the relationship slowly over time. Doing those things builds the relationship over time. Look at your best relationships. I am certain that you do the little things. You say things that should be said. You give those relationships the attention they need and deserve. Those relationships are stronger because the effort you put forth is stronger.
In the beginning of a relationship you take the time, make the effort, and pay attention to the smaller details. It’s not that interest and enthusiasm in a marriage just lessens over time. The things that you used to do, the things that elevated the intensity, excitement, and interest in that relationship, aren’t being done any more.
Is it work? Of course, it is work. But it was always work. You just never realized it. The work didn’t seem like work because the reward was so great.
I look at most things in life like a bank account. As you make deposits and withdrawals, that account is either growing or being depleted. When it comes to relationships, regular deposits are critical if you want abundance. Quick phone calls, little notes, small gifts, words of encouragement, sharing feelings, filling the other person up, etc., all act as deposits. Most people make these deposits early on in the relationship, but then shift over to withdrawals. They stop doing the little things, stop sharing, stop talking, stop giving, until the account gets so low, that it teeters on being completely depleted. In marriage, that account eventually goes into bankruptcy, ending in divorce.
I’m always amazed when people praise the length of time in a relationship such as marriage, but minimize the quality of that relationship. Being married for twenty-five years is great… unless the two people couldn’t stand each other for fifteen of those years.
Life is better with deep, passionate, and intense relationships. But they don’t just happen. Commit to reengaging in the things you did to make your relationship great in the first place. Commit to making more deposits!