How to keep love alive?

Your spouse is the delight you pay no heed to

– Is it always true that a wife and a husband are two halves of one soul? Perhaps the true "half" is elsewhere…

No, your "half" is the one who is with you right now, that is your spouse.

There is a parable. One man was walking down the road when suddenly a tiger run after him. The man started running away and fell into a precipice but got caught by a tree branch. He looked at the bottom of the precipice and saw another tiger there. Then he looked up and spotted the first tiger. Under the tree he was hanging on, the man noticed a mouse gnawing the tree roots. What to do? Suddenly, on the neighboring branch he saw one berry. The man reached to it and ate it up with pleasure. This story is interpreted as follows: the tiger running after the man is his past; the second tiger is his future and the mouse is inexorable time. In this situation, the only thing left to do is to check what is within hand-reach, - this is where one can find a joy of life.

If we are not satisfied with the relationship with our spouse, we feel anxiety which sometimes makes us search for the happiness outside our home, but there a new danger can be on the watch for us. However, the one who can make you happy is close to you. Your "half" is nearby, you just have to open your eyes, understand and accept him/her the way he/she is and be happy. Indeed, the purpose of a family is to be happy, the Gospel calls us "to rejoice". Family is a joy, your spouse is a delight that you pay no heed to. Or maybe you didn’t do everything possible to make him/her happy? Better to accept what you have here and now and not to dream about something that is far away.

– How can one support and nourish love? Some people think that love transforms into a habit with time.

– The key word in relationship between spouses should be "care", which means caring attitude. Heart is so delicate and we need to treat it as a fragile vase, with fear to stumble and break this treasure.

What does careful attitude mean? Life is made from moments. Anything can happen between spouses because of human’s nature, they can say unwise words or hurt each other with negligence. Therefore, careful attitude is care and attentiveness in order not to offend, hurt or damage your relationship with your spouse and his (her) relationship with you.

Saint Ambrose of Optina repeated, "Be good anyway, do not offend, do not annoy anyone and respect everybody!" It means to treat people with respect, protect against negative emotions and attacks.

I liked an expression of the famous singer Nickolay Baskov. He and his wife in their TV interview described their relationship and the way they built their family life. These spouses decided that in case they hurt each other, they should talk it over at once and clarify who is right and who is wrong and to reconcile. At the end of a day, they sum up what happened: if one of them hurt the other, they make amends in order not to carry this pain to the next day. It helps them to nurture their feelings.

There is a cliché saying that there is no need to apologize, that tomorrow you will annoy and hurt your partner’s feelings all over again. To my mind, it’s wrong because sooner or later you will get tired to be so inconsistent. Asking for forgiveness is a great deal in itself. Only strong people can do so, the weak ones somehow exclude "forgive me" from their lexicon. Of course, you should mean it, you should be conscious of your mistake. Only in this case your partner can believe you and open his heart to you, and your relationship will be more trustful. Only in this case you will be able to talk as an equal about what you disliked, what affected or wounded you. With time, the relationship between two people can become perfect if they learn to spare each other’s feelings.

"Baskov's method" has something in common with patristic wisdom which is, "Don’t let the sun go down while you are in anger". You shouldn’t carry this heavy load into the day to come. This is what can make you feel easy and free. On the contrary, if you transfer your hard feelings to the next day, you are going to be in a bad mood, it’ll take your strength away; instead of being active and enjoy yourself you’ll experience depression provoking new conflicts.

– What to do if one partner tries his best to keep good relationship and another one stays indifferent?

– I agree, this is a quite common situation when one is carrying all the burden and another one is just drifting. However, such indifference is deceptive; deep in the heart he/she suffers because of his inability to display his true feelings or of the ignorance of his own soul. Deep down there is anxiety, torment, a feeling that something is wrong. What is right? Peace of mind, love, devotion - because they bring true satisfaction on the level of self-respect. So when one partner suffers in such case, another one being more active, passionate and responsible can be of a great help. The one with stronger faith can help another spouse to get back on track. Don’t give up and be dependent on your problem spouse (for his condition can be just temporary), cheer him (her) up. You’d better not find such difficulties burdensome as they are a necessary lesson for both. These situations give you an opportunity to further develop your relationship. So, try not to be depressed no matter what; eventually your partner will share your attitude, (s)he will learn to rejoice with you and regain some self-control. I can compare it with a man trying to catch the running train; - it’s not easy, is it? Get onto such train and stay with a driver!

– You said that ability to keep love is laid in our childhood. What to do if one didn’t have such opportunity?

- Great amount of efforts is needed. To look back into your past will be helpful, there you can find the situations related to some negative circumstances or people that caused you pain; what is important is to go through this painful experience again to fully overcome it. Because if the source of that pain was blocked and wasn’t lived in full, it means you still have that thorn in your heart. Many people are not even aware of how deep such pain is hidden, they can shift their previous bad experience to the family members. There are cases when spouses instinctively find each other because they can help one another to "outlive" some problems they had with their parents and relatives.

Today a young woman came to me for help. She and her husband have been together for nearly 10 years. She craves for her husband’s care and support, she wants him to show his affection in the way of stroking, hugging, being tender. It appeared that in her family such behavior was not typical, her parents didn’t display much affection to the children and each other. So this woman wanted to experience these feelings with her husband but realized that he couldn’t give her this kind of attention, he has been reserved and very cold to her. We have found many reasons why. Together we came to the realization of her own "thorns" from her past and it helped her understand her husband and feel sorry for him. You see, he was the only child in his family and of course didn’t know how to build the brother-sister hierarchy which serves as a repetition of family relations. His father was a strong and masterful man, and his mother was emotionless. So this guy didn’t experience any endearment when he was a kid, that’s why he cannot show warmth to his wife now,- it makes him feel embarrassed, he just doesn’t know how to do it.

The ability to show kind feelings is very important, it supports family love; it’s also a strong evidence of the fact that your spouse is dear to you. Even if your partner failed to be nice to you, tell him anyway, "I don’t like such and such things, I’m hurt but I love you no matter what!"

– Should we say "I love you" every day?

– It’s very important! All wrong words and looks pile up in the bank of relationships. It’s easy to make a conclusion that you are not loved because your spouse gave you an angry look or raised his voice, etc. Therefore, remind each other the most important thing, "I love you anyways!", show your love in various ways,- through your emotions, words and behavior.

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Irina Rakhimova, psychologist

Irina Rakhimova, psychologist

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See also
Nothing should be higher than love (Writer Maxim Yakovlev)
We could not activate love by our own efforts (Igor Gagarin, Archpriest)
The Third person is needed in a family (Vladimir Gurbolikov, journalist)
Bear each other’s weak points (Painter Olga Motovilova-Komova)
Talk to each other! (Svetlana Shvetsova, psychologist)
I give in my habits (Andrew Klyashtorni, businessman)

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