Friday, August 21, 2009

How Do I Keep An Old Relationship Fresh?

Dear Mom:

How do you keep an old relationship fresh?


Bored to Tears

Dear Bored:

I can tell you first hand it isn't easy to keep an old relationship "fresh." The longer I've been married-and I'm going on 30 years mind you-the more I realize that things just ain't what they used to be.

This isn't always so bad. Because of the length of my relationship I feel much freer to express my feelings. If I have something negative to spout, it is much easier for me to do so. I am more comfortable in the relationship the longer I have been in it. I feel as if I can be my own person, and that my husband can be who he is as well. Dropped are all the games we played in the beginning; all the falsehoods about ourselves that we presented. We were on our best behavior, but with time came change and a falling away.

I am thinking this is what you must be feeling. Where is the romance that once was? Where is the fun? The laughs? Things have changed and you wonder how much longer you can wallow in the muck.

I remember feeling this way about a week after I married. Don't laugh, I'm serious. I was sitting outside the apartment, my new husband was at work, and I thought, "What have I done?"

Suddenly, a thought came to me. My husband and I could still have fun like we did in the glory days before we married; but I had to realize that with marriage came responsibility. We couldn't forever dwell on romance; there were other things in life that had to be taken care of: bills to pay, an apartment to clean, jobs and multiple tasks through our church service and other things that would surely come up.

In the beginning, of course, our relationship seemed more "fresh", but that was because we were only focused on the relationship. It was the beginning stages of romance, of love and all that goes with it. We didn't think much on the other stuff.

But the other stuff is a part of life too and I truly believe it's the compilation of romance, stuff and the working through it that makes a relationship "fresh." You want to spend time doing fun things in the relationship, but at the same time doing those necessary tasks of life. All relationships go through steps of transition and growth anyway. To expect your relationship to be completely the way it was in the beginning is not being very realistic.

What should you expect? Surprises sometimes-a dozen roses on the doorstep, a love note under your pillow, a call from your partner while you're at work-those things that kept your romance alive and ticking when it was new. You should expect to spend some time together doing those things you have always loved doing. You should expect to hear the words, "I love you." You should expect romance.

You should also expect some growing times, times when you must be separate so that each of you can go to work and times when you must do things alone. Perhaps he's in a bowling league, and you are taking a night class, times when you must clean the apartment while he makes dinner. And the bills… there is always the bills.

In the end, a true, growing relationship is always "fresh" because you are not dreaming of how it used to be, but making an effort as a couple to move forward to something even better.


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