Patterns of Love
Falling in love is wonderful! The excitement of that first touch, the anticipation of the next phone call, the sheer bliss of being together, just the two of you!
But the interesting word here is FALLING. It implies that something external happens, something not of your making. It requires no effort from you. You are carried away on the wings of love.
However, time marches on. You and your partner have now committed to staying together long term. The shiny gloss of infatuation has perhaps faded somewhat. The daily grind can dull romantic feelings. The magic of those early days seems far away.
This is when a sense of inertia or dullness can take over in a long term relationship, when you take your partner for granted. They become so much a part of your life that you ignore them, like a comfortable chair or a cozy bed. Inertia or lack of excitement creeps up slowly; it never happens overnight. But one day you realize that the spark between you, the energy which made your relationship special seems to have weakened. The electricity of your connection has faded. There you are, growing so comfortable with one another that neither makes an effort to woo, to seduce.
Let’s take the case of Peggy and George. They have been married for nineteen years with two teenage children. George runs his own business. Recently this has been taking up more and more of his time. Peggy works part time. This, as well as ferrying the children around and running the home, keeps her very busy.
Danger Sign: no time together
The pattern of their lives together has changed over the years. Nowadays they rarely eat together during the week. George often comes home late and then works on his computer until after Peggy has gone to bed.
This suits Peggy as she has got used to going to bed with her book and not having to fight off George’s advances like she used to do. Peggy has never found sex with George satisfying. She used to feel frustrated about this but by now she has lost interest. She does, however, miss the contact and the fun they used to share.
Recently George has been spending more and more time in the office. He is so preoccupied with his work that for a while he does not miss the lack of intimacy with Peggy. Home life has become very dull.
Both George and Peggy feel that they are drifting apart. But they do not talk to one another about it.
Danger Sign: no talking – Peggy and George have not told each other how they would like their lives to be.
When George starts looking around to see if he can find that excitement again, he looks elsewhere. The relationship with Peggy has become stale, all too familiar. The forbidden, the unfamiliar suddenly holds a great attraction, seeming to offer the elusive key to happiness.
Recently, a junior female colleague has been staying back late in the office as well. They have started to chat each evening when she is about to leave. George thinks that there is a definite chemistry between them. He is excited that this younger woman is interested in him. One evening their hands touch when they are at the photocopier. Things snowball from there. George gives her a lift home most evenings and if her flat mate is out, they make the most of it.
The first time it happens, George feels really guilty. He comes home and tries to reconnect with Peggy. He wants to see if he can change things between them. He wants to find those feelings he used to have when he and Peggy were first dating. He wants them to have a heart to heart talk but he is not sure what words to use.
So he puts his arm around Peggy. She shrugs him off. She views his interest with skepticism. She is angry and resentful at being ignored by George for so long. She fears that if she responds to his advances they will revert to the same old pattern of love making which she has found so frustrating in the past.
Danger Sign: no touching – Peggy’s loss of interest in sex develops into her rejecting all shows of affection from George.
George does not try to reach Peggy again. Now when he comes home from work he heads straight to his computer. He feels more justified in having the affair since Peggy has rejected him.
It is only when she finds a receipt for a bouquet of flowers in his suit pocket that Peggy realizes what has been going on. She is of course devastated. She feels hurt, angry and truly outraged. How could her husband treat her in this horrible way?
For his part, George is almost relieved that Peggy now knows the truth. He does not want his marriage to end. The excitement of the affair is waning – the girl wants more commitment from him. He is in fact about to stop seeing her. He has enjoyed the sexual side of the affair and the feeling of being listened to. However, he knows that he loves Peggy and wants their marriage to work. He just wants their relationship to be more fulfilling and more fun.
Peggy and George have to travel a long road to recovery. The hurt, the broken trust, the blow to Peggy’s self-confidence all have to be restored. With much effort, time and real listening, they eventually manage to rebuild their relationship. They are now determined to make time for themselves as a couple, to go to bed together most nights, to go out on a date at least once every two weeks. Just simple things – but what a difference they make.
Falling in love is easy. It is when the initial spark fades that real input is required. You have to work at sustaining your love. The person with whom you fell in love has not changed essentially. It is just that those euphoric feelings you used to have are no longer uppermost in your mind. Now is the time to build on a real and lasting love between you. Not the dazzling glitz of the disco setting, more the deep and wonderful feelings of excitement as you and your partner get to know one another more intimately.
What a pity Peggy and George did not pay more attention to each other all along.
If you would like to find out more about keeping your relationship alive and fulfilling, go to http://www.rekindlethespark.org/
P.S For many couples the story need not end with one of them having an affair. It may be that their lives move along on a predictable pattern. But the excitement and the spark have gone. If this is true for you, why not take action before things go disastrously wrong? Prevention is certainly better than cure.