June is here and wedding music is in the air. As we share in ceremonies and watch couples embark on their life together, many tears are shed. I often wonder if perhaps some of us are crying for lost dreams of promised love as we recall our own chuppah moments.
Marriages that we thought would last forever somehow did not. And those that remain are often lacking.
Marriage takes hard work. Falling in love is the easy part; keeping the love alive is the challenge. Here are the five best ways to keep your love thriving.
1. BECOME A POSITIVE PERSON
Who wants to live with a miserable, negative spouse? It is frustrating to share life with one who always sees the downside. Sour faces and moodiness destroy the happy feeling that makes home a haven.
You can create joy by developing a positive eye and attitude. Begin by giving a smile to those you love, even if you don’t feel like it. I know this sounds small but you cannot imagine the impact your face has on others. Our sages teach us that greater than the white of milk is the nourishment we give from the white of teeth as we smile.
Love flourishes in a positive atmosphere. So try to stop complaining and see the good. You'll find that your loved one reflects your new attitude and soon smiles right back at you.
2. NEVER SPEAK IN ANGER
If you feel the rage that means it is NOT the time to speak about what’s bothering you. When we speak in anger, our emotions take over. We say things we don’t mean and mean things we don’t say. We raise our voices and lose control. I have met too many couples who were seething and uttered words they came to painfully regret.
“That’s it. I’m outta here!”
Though we try to explain ourselves later, (“I didn’t really mean it, I was just in a bad mood.") the damage was done and deep wounds remain.
3. BE A GIVER
‘Ahavah’ is the Hebrew word for love. It comes from the word ‘hav’, which means to give. The more we give, the more we love.
Too often we mistakenly believe that the more we get, the more we will come to love.
We assume that it is the gorgeous diamond ring, the expensive watch, or the latest tech toy we receive from our beloved that makes us feel special and adored. Sure it’s nice to get gifts. But that's not what makes love last. It only feeds our desire to want more. We become takers instead of givers. We await the next gift; anticipate the ‘next thing’ that will make us happy. And as soon as we feel that we are not getting enough we become unhappy. Our ‘gimme more’ love begins to dim.
Make your love grow by investing in your relationship.
Don't let a day pass without giving of yourself as you initiate love. Giving does not have to mean expensive. Extend your hand as you offer an encouraging word, prepare a favorite dish, or send a loving text ‘just because’. Some people save their rumpled look for their spouse but give their best to everyone else. What a mistake! Take a moment, brush your hair, take off that stained t-shirt and put yourself together just like you used to when you first met. Show your loved one that you still care.
4. SEE THE WHOLE PERSON
It’s easy to get caught up in what annoys us and drives us mad.
“Why can’t he ever pick up after himself?”
“Why can’t she ever be on time?”
We are forgiving of ourselves when we mess up. We brush over our flaws and decide that overall, we are a pretty good person. Why not do the same with our spouse?
Think of three good qualities that you can find in your loved one. (If you can’t think of three, then you know where your homework lies.) The next time you find yourself concentrating on all those annoying habits, change gear. Fill your mind with the good qualities that make this person special. Don’t limit your sight to irritants or you will end up missing out on all the blessings.
5. STOP COMPARING
“How come they always get to go on vacation together?”
“Why does her husband buy her jewelry for their anniversary?”
“Why does his wife prepare gourmet dinners for him and look what I get every night?”
There is no poison like the poison of comparing lives. Others seem better off, more in love, happier, and having a better time together. The truth is you never know what is going on behind closed doors. Besides, maybe he buys her jewelry but she wishes he would spend more time with her and the kids, the way your husband does. And perhaps she does prepare gourmet meals but all he wants is an easy, no stressed dinner and good conversation, the way your wife does.
Comparing is never healthy. It eats away at our happiness and strips us of appreciation for that which we have. We become so busy looking at the lives of others we neglect to see all that we must be grateful for. As we concentrate on those around us we believe that we are lacking. We grow resentful without realizing why and feel an undercurrent of unhappiness.
If I am able to create a life filled with cherished moments then even the most difficult days become doable because I have my best friend besides me. Together we can build. Together we can overcome. Hold onto your blessings and bring the magic of peace into your home.