Far be it for me a 2x divorce recipient to give relationship advice. So let me start by saying that this is not that. However with over 30 years of dating experience I do feel somewhat qualified to comment on affairs of the heart. Several years ago I heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger pose the question to a caller on her radio show, "Are you still your husband's girlfriend?" My ears perked up. What?? What did she mean? How or why would you be a "girlfriend" when you had already attained the sought- after "wife" position? I listened a little closer and then began to notice the concept put into play around me.
We're all familiar with the transition that occurs in romantic relationships from "honeymoon" to "real life." There's nothing you can do to prevent it, time marches on. It's a good thing when relationships develop to the next level and grow more serious. But often this other thing happens. We get comfortable enough to think we've got this relationship up and running and now it can cruise on auto-pilot. We don't make as much effort looking nice, doing nice things for and with our beloved or even being nice. I see the last one a lot. You do too, take a look around places like parties and bar-b-ques with other couple friends or even nondescript places like the supermarket. There it is, that uncomfortable experience of seeing one mate disparage the other as you bear witness.
Dis·par·age /diˈsparij/ Verb: Regard or represent as being of little worth. Synonyms: depreciate - belittle - decry - underestimate.
This is not a judgement, we've all done this. We are all equal in allowing this malady to permeate what is supposed to be the love of our life relationships. This is merely the observation booth from where we can look in and see what we might want to readjust.
I think there's some merit to the idea of continuing to be your partner's lover no matter what the length or status of your relationship is. I'm not suggesting we go all "Stepford" but how about recalling what made you want this person to be yours and simply doing the things that got them there. Sure big gestures are great but it's really the little things that are relationship glue. Do we really need a date on the calendar that only comes once a year to remind us it's all about the love? Big profit day for Hallmark but kind of lame if we can't figure it out the other 364 days a year.
So what's the suggestion? Keep seeing your partner through the lover-scope lens. Notice, feel and tell them that you think they are beautiful, handsome, smart, funny, creative, incredible in the kitchen, office, community, bedroom, as a mate, friend, parent, lover. Make a date for FUN, play together often. Make a gesture any day of flowers (Trader Joes has great ones - you're there anyway picking up the groceries), cards, notes, text messages, a cookie or a piece of chocolate - anything that says, "Hey, I think you're cool, I'm lucky!" Speak with care in your voice and bite your tongue when you can't. Extend some grace when your partner blows it, because we all do.
It's true that life + relationships = not always easy. In fact, sometimes it's damn hard. Like lots of things it's a dance where balance is required. Just remember, if you step on some toes or fall down there's always make-up sex.