The transition from the happy, full of hope “I Do’s” to the dreaded “I want a divorce” is an interesting one. How can a couple that was seemingly so in love start to hate each other? What causes this to happen and is there anything that can be done to stop it? This post offers some tips to avoid this sad situation from happening or if you are already in this situation how to get out of it.
How to Become Mr. or Mrs. Wrong
In most cases, before we decided to get married and before our spouse said yes, there was some sort of attraction and love that paved the way.
Maybe she was stunningly beautiful and you couldn’t keep your eyes off her. Or she loved children, was so good with them and having a bunch of kids has always been one of your dreams.
Maybe you were turned on by his 6 pack abs or the way he danced.
Maybe when you kissed her, she made you feel something that you’d never felt with anyone else.
Maybe you loved his confidence and the fact that he seemed to know what he wanted out of life and he was determined to go and get it.
Whatever happened to you as you fell in love, part of the reason in most cases was that your partner was Mr. or Mrs. Right *Enough* to make you consider spending the rest of your life with them.
Of course, no one is perfect. Perhaps Mr. Right Enough had great abs, that’s for sure. But his manners with others are atrocious. Maybe Mrs. Right Enough was amazingly great with children but she wasn’t very good at keeping a clean house.
But, in the end, they were good enough for us to say, “I do.”
After we get married and the love and excitement and spontaneous sex slow down and real-life worries kick in, many of us go from Mr. or Mrs. Right Enough to Mr. or Mrs. Wrong or in some cases Mr. or Mrs. Lying Piece of Garbage Scum.
- Stop exercising or start eating more and in the process, gain weight
- Forget our manners and start passing gas or belching in front of our spouse which can be a big turn off
- Pick back up on our video game or other time consuming or expensive habits that we didn’t have as much time for while we were dating and during the honeymoon period
- Become lazy and unwilling to help do our part whether it is cleaning up after ourselves or keeping the car clean or walking the dog twice a day
- Develop other habits that may gross out our spouse such as not flushing the toilet, not properly handling our dirty clothes, or not showering often enough
- Not spend as much time and effort as we did before making sure we look and smell good for our spouse
- Figure it’s time to let our spouse know who the boss is and how things are going to be in our home
- Stop doing all the cute and sweet loving things that were so attractive before
And, there are hundreds of other things, big and little, that might change for the worse after we get married. Each change for the worse can put our love and marriage on dangerous ground as we get farther away from Mr. or Mrs. Right territory.
How to Fall Out of Love
Even though there are attempts to explain how we fall in love, we like a shorter more direct explanation:
We fall in love with someone that is Mr. or Mrs. Right Enough who makes us feel wonderful because of the things he or she does and the words he or she says.
This is simple and easy to understand.
And, it’s easy to see not just how we fall in love but how we fall out of love.
We’ve identified 10 love building actions and attitudes that can help a couple fall in love. Since doing these 10 things (we call them the 10 T’s) help us fall in love, we can also fall out of love by not doing them:
1. Stop spending time together. Most of us when dating, spent a lot of time together.
We couldn’t stand to be apart and couldn’t wait to see each other again after a time of separation (even if it was only for a couple hours). We may have gone to see movies together, attended concerts or sporting events, or exercised together. We ate together often and it may have even seemed that the food was so much better in the presence of our future Mr. or Mrs. Right.
After we get married though, many times it seems there is no time to spend time with our spouse. At least, not like before. Besides, it shouldn’t matter, right? He’s already mine!
We don’t go on dates anymore and may not even eat together. We can’t remember the last concert we attended and we have no time for sports or exercise. Work is busy, the kids are busy, the knitting club is busy, it’s hunting season and so there is no time to spend time building love. As a result, love starts to die.
2. Stop being tender with our partner. The actions and attitude of being tender are simple: be nice, loving, kind, and sweet to our spouse. Hold her hand softly as you tell her she’s your queen. Let him know how much he means to you with a soft kiss. Gentle. Soft. The feelings that result from these actions and attitude, helped us to fall in love.
After we get married, many of us forget this except during sex (and even then, some of us forget it). We forget to be nice.
We treat our boss or our parents or the delivery person or the neighbor with more caring concern than we do our husband who never can figure out how to put the toilet seat down and now has hair growing out of his ears.
Or, our wife already knows we love her because we agreed to marry her so why should we keep wasting money on these anniversary gifts or special days? We lose those feelings of tenderness that helped us fall in love and unsurprisingly, our love starts to falter.
3. Stop being willing to trade-off. It was so easy to put our own needs and wants on the back burner while dating because we loved being with our partner.
For example, it was easy to live through the knitting class or the football game because we were with the one we love and he or she was happy. And you know that they will be willing to bend when it comes your turn because you were willing to bend this time.
Yet, after marriage, the knitting class or the football game becomes torture that you aren’t willing to live through. For the first time ever since dating, you start attending your classes or watching your games alone or with other friends.
Negotiation, that was so easy while we were dating can seem to turn into two 4-star generals negotiating over life and death situations. Neither side is willing to bend. Neither side wants to give an inch. And, if the other side tries to get their way, you will fight back tooth and nail to avoid this disaster.
We talking war, here? No, we are trying to figure out which one of us takes Jenny to her piano lesson. We’re trying to decide who stays home with David who has a bad cold and can’t go to school. We’re negotiating on whether we’re going to have spaghetti or hamburgers for dinner. We’re arguing about how much personal money each of us can spend out of our combined bank account. We’re fighting over who takes out the garbage.
When we start losing that sense of basic respect, trust, commitment to the greater whole, willingness to bend, and finding win-win solutions, we start losing the love that caused us to want to get married in the first place.
4. Stop being thankful and showing appreciation. When we were dating, it was easy to be truly thankful for any little gift or act of kindness or love our partner showed us. As part of our thankful attitude, we were willing to give back – to reciprocate.
After marriage, though, many times it turns into something completely different. The cute little handwritten card that was so sweet and appreciated before turns into “too cheap to buy a real card, aye?” type thinking.
Whereas before we were so happy our boyfriend helped with the dishes, if he does them now as our husband he probably missed a spot or didn’t do something right and what’s with doing it only every so often? We eat every day and these plates don’t wash themselves – how selfish can he be? Where we showed appreciation before, now that appreciation is replaced with criticism or negativity.
Being thankful helps to build love. Not being thankful, then, has the opposite effect.
5. Stop having the attitude of tenacity about keeping your marriage. When we were dating, many of us faced those that opposed our relationship. Maybe some of our friends thought that our partner wasn’t good enough for us. Maybe our parents didn’t like our partner’s education level or career choices. Whatever it was, we fought to protect our relationship to the point we got married.
After marriage, though, some of us spend more time thinking or talking about divorce than we do about building and saving our marriage. Maybe we realize that our mom was right after all – he’s a bum. Maybe we now know that our friend was right, our new wife seems to have loose morals. Whatever the case, many of us go from an attitude of protecting our relationship at all costs and against all that oppose it, to us being the ones wanting to get out.
Yet, ironically, when we know that our spouse is in this for the long haul and that divorce isn’t an option, it’s easier to make the long-term changes they desire from us. On the other hand, if we always have doubts as to whether this marriage will last, it may be harder to find the gumption to do what we need to do to protect and build our marriage. The attitude of tenacity builds love and should be one of our base attitudes about our spouse and our marriage.
How to Avoid These Negative, Love Destroying Behaviors?
The main answer to this question is fairly simple: Consistently do the kinds of things now that you did before you got married that helped you to fall in love with your spouse.
1. Commit to Becoming Mr. or Mrs. Right. If you’ve gained weight or developed bad habits or have a bad attitude or anything that may be a turn off to your spouse, do your best to change things.
Whether the things you need to change involves grooming, weight/fitness, attitude, habits, cleanliness, timeliness, productivity, finances or anything else you can do it. You start with a commitment to change and strong decisions about what you need to change and how you are going to do it.
Are you committed? If so, what are you going to do about with that commitment? When are you going to start to change?
2. Learn and practice the 10 T’s. They can help you to fall in love again. We’ve only scratched the surface here of 5 of the 10 T’s but learning about and practicing all of them are important if you want to increase the love in your marriage.
Again, it starts with a commitment. Ask yourself these questions about each of these items:
Do you see the need to do this T in order to meet each other’s needs and to build the feeling of love? If so, what are you ready to do about it? What are you willing to change or give up in order to do this T? When are you going to start?
Even though the answers are simple, they aren’t easy to put into practice. Sometimes it is a real struggle. But before we can do anything, we have to learn what to do and then make a commitment to change what needs changing.
One of the best ways to learn what to do to improve your marriage is to take the Revive Your Marriage 30-Day Challenge. You’ll learn simple to implement techniques that can help you to turn your marriage around in as little as 30 days.
Whatever you do, get started doing something. Don’t let your marriage die without trying to make things better. Be proactive. Do what it takes to figure things out. The goal here is to be happy ever after! It can only be done, though, if changes are made and if the love is rebuilt. So, get started today!