Affirm me, dammit!

Why is it, do you suppose, that at the beginning of a romantic relationship we shower the object of our affections with meaningful words, compliments and affirmations… and as the relationship progresses and we settle into life together, that our words and celebrations of each other wane?

And I suppose your could ask the same thing about the physical side of a relationship as well… you know, sex! Why are we all hot and heavy when a relationship sprouts and blooms, only to wither as we grow into grand old elms?

Doesn’t this all seem so backwards? Shouldn’t these things get better over time? Shouldn’t we be showering our most beloved relationships with praise and blessings more and more as the years pass, as we accomplish bigger and better things together in life?

What is it about romantic relationships that end up sucking the life out of us instead of being our grandest accomplishments?

Is it just that as time passes, and we get older and experience more of the world, that our egos become more fragile? Does the harshness of the world cause us to put up walls, even in our most sacred of spaces? Do our sacrifices of self just weigh too heavy upon us, suffocating us, instead of allowing our gratitude for what we received in return reign supreme?

When I look back upon my own romantic relationship with my husband of 10 years, we’ve no doubt had our peaks and valleys, just like everyone else’s relationships. We spent the first many years together before we got married breathing and speaking life into one another, building each other up and placing one another up on pedestals. And then when life got serious, like it sometimes must, we stopped existing in that romantic part of our relationship where we look into each others eyes and say things like, “your eyes are so beautiful and inquisitive” or “you are such a bad ass and I love it!”

Yes, we still compliment each other here and there. But we don’t put so much focus on affirming to each other our love and passion. Generally speaking, I’ve always viewed the beginning of a relationship as the most insecure period, when you’re both wondering what it all means, and are they feeling as strongly as I am? But, for my husband and I, we never wondered those things. Well, maybe for a minute when one of us moved back home and “needed some time to think”, leaving the other one in a lurch…

But, we were never insecure with each other and the way we felt. So when that point came when life got serious, you know… we bought a house, had 3 kids, made multiple financial and career decisions, I think we got hung up there. By a show of hands, how many people got caught up at this point in their lives?

That’s what I thought…

So here we are, at the point in which we need to hear those words from each other. We never needed it before because those words were coming at us in a constant stream… totally wasting the water. Wait… was it a waste? Was that what built our foundation together? Hmmm…

But, now that we need it, guess who is finding it really hard to speak those words again… But why is that? Do our opinions of our spouse change over time? Do we love each other less or in a different way? Do we love each other in a much deeper way from the journey through peaks and valleys, and take for granted the fact that we are there for one another until death do us part?

Do we believe that emotional maturity and a matured relationship provide ourselves with enough affirmation to get by? Do we think that our spouses get enough from work, friends, kids? No matter which way we spin it, the only person that can really speak the words that count are the ones we truly love. So why is it so damn hard to throw a few words their way?

What’s it going to hurt?

It’s not going to make anyone feel bad…

So why is it so hard? Why do we get hung up on what the other person is doing wrong? How do we get back to all the things we are doing right with and for one another? (Hint: try pointing the finger back at yourself for starters.)

Someone once told me this is the hardest life will ever be (relatively speaking)… young kids, young marriage, young careers, struggling finances, interrupted dreams…  We spent the early years of adulthood feeling like we were on top of the world. I got a college degree! I got my first real job! She loves me!!

And then we settle into our lives as adults and the world starts creeping in on us, taking away pieces of our foundation, brick by brick. As our foundation starts to wobble, we question so many things about our lives and our decisions. Should I look for a better paying job? Does he still want me? Am I being a good role model?

All those questions and doubts and insecurities can really grab a hold of us and further shatter our existence. As the saying goes, we can rise from the ashes… In these periods of shame, doubt and insecurity, we can rise up. We can rise to the occasion and start rebuilding, brick by brick, word by word.

I’m sorry. You’re right. My God I’m glad to be married to you! What would I do without you?

Life’s most rewarding growth opportunities are found in the dark parts of our world, where the wounds are deep and the ashes lie.