Marriage Takes Work

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It was a rude day when I realized that marriage takes work.  I am a simple minded gal and it seemed at first that our picture perfect love was going to coast us into a happily ever after (effortlessly).  Nope.

Marriage.  Sure, it is full of ups and downs.  I am not talking about that.  I am talking about the work.  The day in and day out of giving and taking.  Scott and I have recently reflected on our marriage’s course, the occasional messes we find ourselves in, and just … love.  December 19, 2013 will mark 15 years of marriage for us!  I found some encouragement from a piece I read from the New York Times, entitled That Loving Feeling Takes a Lot of Work by Jane Brody.

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It would be silly to think that love should just come without true, intentional, thoughtful and determined work.  Work meaning the sustained energy or efforts we give towards being together and making it good… really good.  Work being the fashioning of this love we want to share and making it happen.

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The work that goes on to enrich and keep love alive in marriage is not to be overlooked.  Putting marriage on auto-pilot will only get you so far.  Being mindful of each other’s needs, wants, desires, interests and bends, and then catering to them with a committed heart full of love and devotion isn’t for lazy folks.

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Scott and I have been having conversations, sometimes after a conflict and sometimes when we are doing great, about this idea of marriage being work.  He found the article in the New York Times and forwarded it to me.  The writer, Jane Brody, shares an interesting article full of take-homes for any marriage.  She shares some insights from a new book, The Myths of Happiness, by Dr. Lyubomirsky that describe a slew of research-tested actions and words that can do wonders to keep love alive.  Also, Brody cites Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a professor that has done studies regarding the positive energy in the everydayness of marriage and its benefits.  Here are some of the take-homes I was referring to:

In building companionship within marriage…
Take time to be together and talk.
Truly listen to each other.
Express admiration and affection.
Appreciation is important.  Don’t take  your spouse for granted.
Remind yourself and your partner of what you appreciate about him/her and the marriage.
Mix things up, be spontaneous!
Change how you do things, keep things fresh… meaningful…and positive!
Shake it up! Try new things together.  
Rekindle a so-so marriage with nonsexual touching and affection on a daily basis.  
In building energy within marriage…
Support each other’s dreams and goals.  Stay tuned in and listen with interest and delight.
Fill the home with words and actions that elicit positive emotions.  
Simple acts can enhance marital happiness… like sharing an amusing event, smiling at each other, or being playful.  
Do these strategies seem too simple?  If that were some sort of checklist for your marriage, would you cross every line off and say you’ve got it covered, no work needed?  When I read them, I felt like I was getting a nudge, an elbow to the side.  Come on, Anna, there’s more work to be done!

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