This past weekend while on Real Simple's website I came across an article on the top six things people worry about and how to calm them. The first five things are job security, the safety and well being of our children, the threat of terrorism/natural disasters, our health, and of course, money. Our sixth biggest worry is about relationships failing. The article said that we know that a relationship is in disharmony when we take each conflict with someone as a sign that the relationship is failing, or we stop enjoying the time that we spend together.
My husband Tom and I have been together for over twenty-seven years. For the most part we have had a loving, mutually supportive,enjoyable relationship that has weathered well in the normal ebb and flow of a long marriage. We have however gone through two phases that have been especially challenging. The first was when we first became parents and had to adjust to having our lives tipped upside down after having our first baby, and the other phase is right now as we sadly become empty nesters and begin to navigate a life with just the two of us again.
So my ears perked up yesterday morning when I was half asleep on the couch watching The Today Show. They did a great interview with Alisa and Mark Bowman about revitalizing their marriage after the couple had several years of relationship discord. Alisa documented their journey back to love in her book Project: Happily Ever After. In the book she suggests ten steps to help renovate a relationship. Step one is 'find yourself/change yourself'. Step ten is 'write your spouse's eulogy'. Ooh I like that.
The 'find yourself/change yourself' step I know is an important one. I have heard many times that when we are standing around pointing our finger at someone else that it is really ourselves that we need to work on first and foremost. I have found this to be true. Likewise, if we are feeling bored with someone- what we really need to do is broaden our own horizon.
The Bowmans interview made me want to read Project: Happily Ever After as soon as I finish Anne Kreamer's book Going Gray from last week's post, which I am really enjoying.
I also came across something called The Long Haul Project, an interesting documentary on marriage. The Bowmans were one of the couples interviewed for the project.
In closing, no matter what kind of relationship we are in, I think one of the best ways to gain intimacy and a closer connection with anyone is to share our reality with them. It almost always opens them up as well and creates a tighter bond.
And if it doesn't, maybe it's time to move on.